By Tomas Bozack of Brookings, Oregon. Tomas is a volunteer with the Curry County Democratic Party.
PolitiFact Oregon has a long history of inexplicable rulings in favor of Republicans. Now they're at it again with their coverage of a statement made in a satirical campaign video titled “Mister Robinson's Neighborhood” put out by Congressman Peter DeFazio's campaign. This video makes fun of some of the many nutty beliefs held by DeFazio's Republican opponent and Tea Party darling Art Robinson.
Those who have been following lower-left Oregon politics will know Art Robinson as arguably the wing-nuttiest of all Tea Party Republican candidates currently vying for national office – and that's saying a lot. His train-wreck interview with Rachel Maddow during his 2010 campaign against DeFazio is a classic worth watching again for its entertainment value if nothing else.
DeFazio's recent video correctly states that Robinson has called for the end of Social Security "by attrition." Robinson's proposal is to phase out Social Security by not accepting new beneficiaries and waiting for the current beneficiaries to all die off.
PolitiFact Oregon takes on this claim and classifies it as "mostly true" even though they agree that Robinson actually said it and meant it. They just can't bring themselves to call it "true", so they weasel word and prevaricate around the issue and end up saying,
We will rule on the accuracy of DeFazio’s claim that Robinson wants to end Social Security 'by attrition.' Robinson has called for an end by attrition and continues to say we should end the current program by attrition, to be replaced by another system, whether it’s private or mixed with a public program.
They seem to have pulled the part about replacing Social Security with "another system" out of ... the air. They provide no reference to any such statement.
But that's not the end of it.
PolitiFact seems compelled to fluff Art Robinson's radical opposition to all government social programs by citing a statement from Robinson's paradoxically named book “Common Sense in 2012” (pdf):
Robinson, not surprisingly, argues that DeFazio is wrong to say -- and to say only -- that he would end programs such as Social Security. 'I have consistently called for increases in Social Security payments,' Robinson writes in his new book, 'Common Sense in 2012.'
'I have pointed out that Social Security payments have lagged badly behind price increases [factually not true]. They must be increased to catch up. The federal budget must be balanced, but not by short-changing seniors for benefits they have paid for and counted on.'
He sounds very senior-friendly there. DeFazio’s people contend this is a prime example of Robinson backtracking from previous statements -- to end Social Security -- that were not as senior-friendly."
PolitiFact tries to leave the impression that Robinson has moderated his position by proposing to end Social Security in a more compassionate way by increasing the payments to current beneficiaries (which coincidentally are a big part of Robinson's core constituency). They fail to note that his compassion doesn't extend to what would otherwise be future beneficiaries. Apparently for PolitiFact compassion has its limits.
This clearly reveals PolitiFact's right-leaning bias (again). Robinson is on record as wanting to end Social Security. That's a simple fact. That's always been his position, and no weasel-wording on the part of PolitiFact can change it.
Read the whole thing and marvel at PolitiFact's transparently biased attempt to give Art Robinson way more credit than he deserves and make him look like he's something other than a wing nut with a crazy streak.
For this kind of biased reporting PolitiFact Oregon deserves a rating of “pants on fire.”