Health Care Reality Check

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The health care debate has generated a lot of crazy talk (Obama wants to kill grandmas! And Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome baby!) So it’s not surprising that the president has launched a website to debunk the lies, dubbed “Health Insurance Reform Reality Check.”

When Obama unveiled a similar site, “Fight the Smears,” during the campaign, it was considered a smart political move. But it’s unclear how effective it actually was.

The problem is that once an idea enters the cable news/blogosphere ether, it’s nearly impossible to kill. One of the stories debunked on “Fight the Smears” was Obama’s birth record. We all know how that turned out. Nor has it stopped people from believing Obama is Muslim, unpatriotic, or tax-happy.

Still, clarification is never a bad thing—and the site could very well persuade members of the masses, if not the wacky fringe.

Currently, the site’s six busted myths range from the fear-mongering (the plan will require euthanasia for old people) to the reasonable (it will cut some Medicare benefits). At least one of the lies it discredits—that reform will lead to a government takeover of health care—has also been debunked by factcheck.org. Still, the site’s video rebuttals would carry more weight if they came from people outside the administration, and had a little less spin.

Only time will tell if this will actually help Obama push through his plan. But one thing’s for sure: When it comes to the paranoia-infused health care debate, a reality check is often in order.

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And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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