December 12th, 2013
07:30 PM ET
9 years 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. Evergreen

    Presidents lie to motivate the country to action. President Bush lied about WMDs to motivate the citizens to go to war. President Obama lied about keeping your same plan to motivate the citizens toward affordable healthcare for all. What will future Presidents lie about?

    December 13, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Rudy NYC


    What you guys FAIL to mention is that #1 was picked 59% of the time and #2 drops to 8%!
    It's called the recognition factor. What you fail to realize is that #1 has been blasted all over the media in recent weeks, while the rest have had little or no mention at all in recent weeks. In fact, I doubt that many of those polled had even heard of every comment before they were polled.

    December 13, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. "You can keep your plan, PERIOD." -- Lie of the Year from the Liar of the Century

    Polls show that 52% of Americans think Obama is not honest or trustworthy. 44% think he is.

    That 44% of the population represent the biggest danger to the future of this country as they do not possess the intelligence level to know when they are being lied to and conned. Either that or they are getting free stuff from the government and don't want it to stop so continue to support the liars running our governemnt. This is a form of soft corruption that threatens our country's future.

    December 13, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Thomas

    There are no WMD's in Iraq .

    December 13, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Maria Delaluz

    I think it's funny that CNN HAS TO include others in this article that they claim fibbed as well. But, the actual topic was THE LIE of the year by one Barrack Obama.

    December 13, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. tom l

    Keep telling yourselves Obama didn't lie. The truth is that if the people really knew what was in the law they would not have allowed their reps to pass it.
    Being wrong about something doesn't make you a liar


    You have lost any chance at ever calling George Bush a liar with regards to WMD's. Per your words, my friend.

    December 13, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. current state of the union

    Tom, you dont believe George and Cheney made up the lie, unfortunately its the truth, a very ugly one, next your going to tell me George didn't know anyone would die in the war. Cheney outed the CIA agent because her husband wouldn't play ball , see what integrity gets you in the gop? Look it up before you claim his innocence, they made it up when the real Intel didn't give them what they wanted, Cheney's company got 55$ a piece for paper plate, spork, cup, all the way from new England, another no bid contract, these are the real reason for the war, sorry you can't accept that, but maybe we found your problem

    December 13, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Democrats,Obama bad for America.

    You liberals can spin it anyway you want, Bottom line is OBama is the biggest liar of them all. Period.

    December 13, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    You have lost any chance at ever calling George Bush a liar with regards to WMD's. Per your words, my friend.
    Nice try, but you're wrong. Bush addressed the nation and the world, claiming to have evidence of WMDs in Iraq. Bush claimed to have had concrete evidence, but he couldn't reveal it because it would compromise national security and our intelligence networks. Bush even called it "irrefutable" evidence. We have yet to know what that evidence was, even if it was wrong. Do you remember the mobile chemical weapons lab, mounted inside of a semi-trailer?

    December 13, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Garrett from Texas


    Obama's statement is accurate for most Americans. Most Americans get to keep their health insurance plans.


    So it's still a lie, right?

    December 13, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. PSYmuffin

    #2 is incorrect.....Reid kept his leadership staff on the federal plan , explaining that he was following the law....not suprisingly known as the Reid Amendment. Other members of congress including Grassley also pursued this route. Point is some congressional staff members have not been thrust upon the ACA exchanges. Interestingly Reid ranted about the benefits of the ACA exchanges. I quess he meant the ignorant masses.

    December 13, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Oakspar77777

    The Great Leader gets nailed for the biggest lie (with more votes than the other three combined – indeed, ever other considered lie combined), so they try to save face for their Messiah by tagging 3 things from the right.

    If Cruz was lying, explain the staff of Harry Reid.

    December 13, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. ST

    I have doubts whether some know calling anyone a liar is an offence. It is driven with hatred one has towards a person they call a liar. If there is love, the word liar disappears and instead comes: "I think he got it wrong."

    December 13, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Tony

    Garrett from Texas, how many of Republicans' statements are 100% true? Obama's critics said that he is the biggest liar ever, but have they forgotten about the senior Bush's "read my lips, no new taxes" or Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"? If Republicans claim that Obama is the biggest liar ever, because his statement is not true for everyone, Republicans are the biggest liars ever because everything they have said about Obamacare are not 100% true. Congress's exemption from Obamacare. IRS's database to keep tabs on everyone. The claim that doctors won't accept Obamacare. And these are just the ones that were on Politifact's list.

    December 13, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Democrats - The Party of Lies, Deceit and Corruption

    Even worse than the numerous lies repeated endlessly to the American people, are the NEW LIES now coming from the Democrats about how they didn't lie. Do you honestly think the American people are compelete and total imbeciles? Why are you continuing to lie to us? People liek that simply should NOT be anywhere nears the controls of government. As we have seen with the IRS and NSA, that is a formula for disaster.

    December 13, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. J Russ


    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."

    Sir......respectfully you are incorrect. The law requires certain coverage. If you do not need that coverage too bad, it is not a qualifing plan under the law and therefore you are subject to a tax(fine). Personnally I do not need many of the items that the government requires in a health insurance plan. Now am forced to purchase something I do not want, do not need, and cannot possibly use. All this for more money than my previous plan.

    December 13, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. rob


    There are no WMD's in Iraq

    Better tell that to:

    Bill Clinton
    Hillary Clinton
    John Kerry
    Al Gore
    Harry Reid
    Nancy Pelosi
    British Intelligence
    New York Times
    Washington Post

    December 13, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Frank from WI

    Nice to see that so many Republicans find value in Politifact. They should look at the bigger picture on Politifact to see that on average their Republican friends almost continuously out lie Democrats 60% to 40%.

    December 13, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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