PolitiFact: The Roundup

How does PolitiFact Georgia’s Truth-O-Meter work?

Our goal is to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fact-check statements by local, state and national political leaders, including lobbyists and interest groups. We then rate them on the AJC Truth-O-Meter.

To fact-check the claim, reporters first contact the speaker to verify the statement. Next, the research begins. Reporters consult a variety of sources, including industry and academic experts. This research can take hours or a few days or even longer, depending on the claim. Reporters then compile the research into story form and include a recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling.

The fact check then moves on to a panel of editors who debate the statement and the reporter’s recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling. The panel votes on a final ruling; majority prevails.

PolitiFact Georgia and the AJC Truth-O-Meter spent the week checking recycled claims about the federal health care law and education.

We researched small businesses’ reaction to the Affordable Care Act for a claim by a conservative talk show host based on a previously cited survey. We checked the impact of the ACA on the federal deficit for a repeated claim about the plan’s long-term debts. We hit the books to investigate a claim about Georgia’s education spending and student achievement. And our PolitiFact Florida colleagues revisited a claim about data collection under the Common Core national education standards. That claim was almost identical to one checked by our PolitiFact Georgia team during the summer.

Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below. Full versions can be found at: www.politifact.com/georgia/.

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Larry Elder: “Seventy-four percent of small-business people believe that Obamacare is a bad idea.”

CNN host Don Lemon and Elder, a political commentator and conservative talk show host, made for some entertaining television recently when they sparred over how small-business owners feel about the health care law.

Our research found that there is no independent polling to support Elder’s argument. The numbers Elder used to base his claim were in response to a different question on a survey the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted this past summer. Also, the poll that Elder relied on to make his claim is deeply flawed. Still, Elder believes the combined 74 percent of respondents in the Chamber of Commerce poll who say the health care law may affect future hiring reflects their feelings about Obamacare.

Other fact-checkers have reviewed similar claims based on the same survey and have found flaws.

Elder may have a point, but there is no concrete evidence to support his argument.

We rated Elder’s claim False.


U.S. Rep. Paul Broun: According to a federal report, Obamacare will increase the long-term deficit by $6.2 trillion.

Days before the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces opened for enrollment, the Georgia congressman made this claim about the law in a newspaper op-ed. Broun, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, used the article to promote his own plan.

Broun’s claim was similar to those made by other political leaders and quoted in articles in conservative publications. We found that the $6.2 trillion figure was based on a federal government report and devised by a group of GOP Senate Budget Committee staffers.

The report does say that the health care law could cause the federal deficit to increase if cost-savings measures are phased out over time. But if the law is fully implemented, it could actually lower the deficit over time.

Broun, like other politicos before him, repeated a selective version of the report to support his claim while omitting alternative positive findings of the same report.

We rated Broun’s claim Mostly False.


Tim Curtis: “There are over 300 data elements the government is going to be collecting (under Common Core) about your children and about you.”

Our PolitiFact Florida colleagues checked this claim made by a tea party activist and Common Core opponent during a meeting earlier this month in Tampa.

During the summer PolitiFact Georgia checked a similar statement by a Common Core opponent claiming that more than 400 data elements on each child would be collected under the national standards initiative.

Common Core does not include new requirements for the government to collect data on schoolchildren. It’s true that school districts and the states of Florida and Georgia already collect a long list of data on students. Those data are aggregated for the federal government, after stripping out students’ personal information, and that collection of data doesn’t change whether states adopt Common Core or not.

Common Core opponents are mixing two separate issues here: the transition to Common Core and data collection that already occurs.

We rated Curtis’ claim Mostly False.


Nancy Jester: Georgia “spends in the top 10 nationally on education, yet, most of our education metrics hover in the bottom five.”

Jester, a former DeKalb County school board member, made this claim earlier this month in a newspaper op-ed about the Common Core national education standards.

Our research found that she was correct about the state’s overall education spending. But that is expected for a state whose total population and the population of k-12 students both rank in the top 10 nationally. It is also important to note that Georgia’s ranking drops significantly, to the bottom third of all states, for per-pupil spending.

National results of college readiness exams and graduation rates ranked Georgia among the bottom in most reports. Georgia did rank among the top 10 states nationally in a survey touted by state education officials. But even in that report Georgia scored low marks in key areas.

Jester’s statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details about education funding that could give the reader a different impression.

We rated Jester’s claim Half True.

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