Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 11, 2009

You know, it’s starting to be old hat bashing Politifact for its partisan “analysis” of various politicos’ statements, but this one is particularly outrageous. The target is GOP Rep. Mike Pence of Ohio Indiana and his “half true” statement is this:

"To use money from the TARP fund in the manner that is being discussed by the White House and congressional Democrats would be a violation of the law."

Why is it false?

Does the law really bar Congress from spending that TARP money on the kind of economic stimulus described by the president?

Here's what the TARP legislation states in Section 106, Part D: "Revenues of, and proceeds from the sale of troubled assets purchased under this Act, or from the sale, exercise, or surrender of warrants or senior debt instruments acquired under section 113 shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt."

Oops, that’s why it’s true.

Here’s why it’s false:

But budget experts say there are ways Congress could get around that, legally.

Congress could rescind the TARP money and then, in a separate action, use the savings to offset the stimulus, said Brian Riedl, lead budget analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"So technically, it would not be TARP money," Riedl said. "But in all honesty, it'd be a shell game to use what would have been used for TARP to offset these expansions of government. If they do it this way, I believe it would be legal, although it would definitely go against the spirit of the TARP program."

Congress could also opt to simply change the TARP legislation it made last year, said James Gattuso, a senior fellow in regulatory policy at Heritage. But no matter how it's done, he said, to use money from TARP for economic stimulus would grow the national debt.

So, it’s illegal now, but Congress could pass a law making it legal, so Pence’s statement about its present illegality is “half true.”

As I’ve enjoyed doing before, let’s do a little reductio ad absurdum on this.

This example is inspired by Sen. Harry Reid.

Statement: It’s illegal to have slaves in the United States.

Politifact analysis: Half true. Congress could pass a constitutional amendment repealing the 13th through 15th amendments and 3/4 of the state legislatures could ratify it and then you could buy slaves again – probably at a warehouse store.

To say any true statement is “half true” because Congress may, at some point in the future, pass a law making the true statement false is the most absurd and tortured “analysis” that the self-appointed fact-checkers at Politifact have yet come up with – and that’s saying something.


I thank the commenters who pointed out that I had the wrong state for Congressman Pence. The idea that I "lose all credibility" because of that error is laughable. Seriously guys. If that's all it took to lose "all" credibility, then The New York Times and every other blogger, newspaper and television program loses "all" credibility repeatedly.

Next time try to focus on the bigger issue.

4 comments on “Politifalse”

  1. How can ANYone take you seriously when you can't even get the State correct?? Congressman Pence is from Indiana, not Ohio.

    You instantly lose any and all credibility.

    You know that House.gov, Govtrack.us, and MANY, MANY other websites exist so you can at least get that simple, overtly available fact correct.

  2. Seriously, how do you get that wrong? Try watching C-Span, too. Perhaps YOU are the needing fact-checkers, instead of Congress

  3. Good one guys.

    I guess that means the dumbass analysis that Politifact did is OK after all.

    Not like it matters anyway, all those northern states are so small anyways.


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