December 12th, 2013
07:30 PM ET
1 year ago

And the top lie of 2013 goes to...

(CNN) – It's the worst of the worst – the most fictional of statements, the flippiest of flops and most misleading of claims by U.S. political figures this year.

Fact checkers, Politifact, asked readers to rank the top lies from politicians in 2013. Here are the top four - all of which relate to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act:

1 - Obama: "If you like your plan; You can keep your plan"

Obama's repeated promise that if you like your health care plan, you can still keep it under the Affordable Care Act leads Politifact's list with 59% of voters picking it as top lie of the year.

But it was the President’s revised pitch to the nation amid a storm of controversy over cancelled policies that earned Politifact's "pants on fire" emblem.

"What we said was - you could keep it, if it hasn't changed since the law passed," Obama said in November.

Politifact editor Angie Drobnic Holan told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview that its team of fact check editors chose Obama's Obamacare statements because they had the most impact on the national debate.

"It's something we first flagged back in 2009. We said this is partly right - the health care law does leave in place the existing health care system but it's partly wrong because we knew back then not everybody would be able to keep their health care plan and this was the year that it was proved false as these cancellation letters when out again."

Drobnic said Politifact found 37 instances in which the President repeated that promise, without caveats.

"The original statement is partly accurate. The lie of the year is not the most strong statement - it's the most significant impact and then the excuse got the ‘pants on fire’ overall," she said.

2 - Ted Cruz: Congress gets exception to Obamacare

Runner-up is Texas conservative and tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a speech in August, Cruz said President Barack Obama "granted all of Congress an exception" to Obamacare.

Politifact rated this claim "false."

"Congress has to have insurance just like all other Americans the law actually forced them out of the federal employees plan and on to the online market places so they could experience what it's like to shop with everyone else - so, not exempt."

Cruz's press office e-mailed CNN saying the Senator's statement is "100% correct."

"The Obama administration granted Congress the ability to keep federal health subsidies to purchase Obamacare exchange plans. That's an exemption from the law that private sector firms don't get."

3 - Michele Bachmann: IRS health care database

Former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in May appearing on Fox News that the IRS will be "in charge" of "a huge national database" on health care.

"The IRS is not keeping people's health care records," Drobnic said.

"The only role they play is if someone gets a subsidy to help them buy insurance, the IRS will verify their income and the IRS already has that information and they know how much money you're making."

Bachmann made similar claims about the IRS and its ties to the health care law in 2011 after Obama's State of the Union address.

The tea party darling asserted that "Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's health care bill."

At the time, CNN rated her claim misleading at best as the health care bill specifically says that taxpayers who do not buy insurance won't be prosecuted because of their failure to buy insurance through the law.

4 - Ann Coulter: Docs won't accept Obamacare

Politifact rated conservative commentator Ann Coulter's claim that "No U.S.-trained doctor will accept Obamacare" a whooping "pants on fire."

Coulter made the comments in a column titled "Democrats to America: We Own the Government!" posted to her website in October.

"Experts told us this was ridiculous and nothing we could find in the law connected where doctors were trained with what kind of insurance you had," Drobnic said.

Experts, Politifact says, called the notion that there is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that bars doctors from accepting patients who bought insurance under the federal marketplace "ridiculous" and "outrageous."

CNN reached out to the people mentioned above for comment. Cruz's office was the only one to reply by the time the Lead aired at 4 p.m. ET.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Ann Coulter • Michele Bachmann • President Obama • Ted Cruz
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    What about the jobs, jobs, jobs lie?

    December 12, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  2. Will

    Top 4 lies and 3 goes to Republicans. Is ANYONE really surprised by this?

    December 12, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. Sir

    How is what Obama said a lie? The law didnt force greedy insurance companies to drop people. Therefore it is not in Obama's control.

    December 12, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  4. Evergreen

    Did the President lie about "keeping your insurance plan" or did the insurance companies make him into a liar by canceling insurance plans?

    December 12, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  5. ladies first

    way to go people like throwing stones at a glass house

    December 12, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  6. sam

    Some of the 4 can't be judged a lie yet because Jan 1st 2014 isn't here yet.

    December 13, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  7. Dave

    Three of the top 4 were Republicans. and it is not clear the president was trying to lie. Sometimes people get it wrong without the dubious intentions. Every single one of those Republicans was lying through their teeth, not even caring if they got caught.

    December 13, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  8. Chaim Schenck

    There's a huge difference between no. 1 and nos. 3-4. I'll begin with #4, Coulter is not a politician, she is a private citizen with no coercive powers. #3, Michelle Bachmann is no longer a politician, she is a private citizen with no coercive powers. #2, Cruz is a politician, but as a Senator lacks any substantial coercive powers. This leaves us with #1, who has immense coercive powers: the lies told by nos 2-4 are incidental, the lie told by #1 is substantially worse.

    December 13, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  9. California

    The #1 Was blatantly obvious.

    December 13, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  10. CryBabies

    Who knew???????

    December 13, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  11. fla voter, early & often

    Really? The year's not over...........

    December 13, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  12. Rick

    Nah, the biggest lie is "We believe in bipartisanship" attributable to each Democrat and Republican that stood in front of a mike.

    December 13, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  13. Nunya

    I'm sick and tired of hearing how 'Obama lied' when he said 'you can keep your plan'. It was 100% obvious from the beginning that the plan had no provision that was going to force private insurance companies to continue offering the plans that they offered at the time. The intent of the statement was to communicate that the government was not going to force the insurance company to ditch all the old plans, and as such it is 100% accurate. Yet somehow people want to twist it into a claim that he meant exactly the opposite of what he meant.

    December 13, 2013 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  14. Sandy

    I think Ted Cruz should have been No. 1 with Michelle Bachmann coming in 2nd. The President was well-intentioned and under-informed when he made that comment. I can't say the same for the other lies.

    December 13, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  15. Server

    "Society wants the truth!"
    "Society can't handle the truth, only Google can!"
    Does auto-complete work for all search queries?
    Perhaps we need to look at the aggregate search data stored on the server.

    December 13, 2013 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  16. croaton999

    "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period"-Obama
    "I'm trustworthy"- Obama
    "ACA will save American families an average of $2500.00 per policy" – Obama
    How many more examples do we need to determine who is the biggest liar of them all?

    December 13, 2013 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  17. sundara0000

    Seriously? I agree with number one but you could have filled the rest with bigger lies then 2,3,4. What about We are not collecting data on American citizens?

    December 13, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  18. Jerry

    When it comes to Obama's lying, there should be no doubt HE is, pound for pound, the undisputed KING!

    How shameful!!! But, to be expected.

    Stay tuned. More lies, exaggerations and unnecessary/partisan political attacks coming at Américan populace "fast and furious."

    December 13, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  19. JoeMama

    Look no further to evidenc of CNNs left bias when they follow up Obama's whopper with three lame Republican quotes. We know you're working hard to protect Dear Leader CNN.

    December 13, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  20. maybeitsme

    Congratulations Mr. President... And thank you so much for destroying the entire health system in order to cover the un-insured. You knew and you know you didn't have to do it this way. History will not look kindly on you....

    December 13, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  21. hopelessinseattle

    In response to number 4, that may or may not be true only time will tell. It is my guess that reimbursement to doctors under Obamacare plans will be less. That is what allows insurers to offer policies at prices the government accepts. It won't take long for doctors to figure out what plans pay more or pay less and the ones that pay less they will stop taking. May take them a year or so to figure out what is what, but when they do I suspect #4 will turn out to be true. They are businessman (and woman) and very smart individuals, plus they pay staff to monitor this sort of thing.

    December 13, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  22. JRJ

    Oh come on!

    THE biggest lie is that you vote means a thing in how this country is run. The republic is dead! Long live the Corpocracy.

    December 13, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  23. Chris Asking Question

    What about the lie that health care will be more affordable?

    December 13, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  24. Logictox

    The top lie cost 5 million people already their healthcare and that number could multiply by ten next year. It is like comparing a Tornado to a dust devil.

    December 13, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  25. Minnie Mouse

    The real and most ridiculous lie comes from "Michelle Bachman" who said that the "Affordable Care Act is Literally going to kill people, women, children and seniors,

    That is 100% a big fat lie! This law is what's going to keep people alive!

    The truth-o-meter is way off.

    December 13, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
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