Fact-checking Michele Bachmann’s faltering claims


The New York Times notes in ‘This Week’ Is Adding Online Fact Checks that the days of politicians getting a fact-free ride on Sunday morning public affairs shows may be coming to an end.

As Bachmann watchers might anticipate, the gentlewoman from Minnesota’s Sixth has mention in the article:

“But some say that TV misstatements demand attention from the networks themselves. After Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, said on CBS‘s ‘Face the Nation’ last month that the United States government was ‘taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the American economy,’ CBSNews.com published a report specifying that she had ‘offered no facts’ to back it up.” [end update]

Another Monday, another crop of articles examining Congresswoman Bachmann’s veracity. The St. Cloud Times takes a long, carefully researched look in Bachmann’s health care claims falter. Staff writer Mark Sommerhauser’s news feature begins:

Few things anger anti-abortion activists more than when federal tax dollars pay for abortions.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, says the long-standing detente on that volatile issue was permanently altered last month by passage of the federal health care overhaul.

Over the last three weeks, Bachmann has said the new health care act will unleash a wave of new federal funding for abortion and increase the number of abortions performed in the U.S. by 30 percent.

Yet contrary to Bachmann’s claims, the law doesn’t fundamentally change federal policy on abortion funding, says a group of nonpartisan health care policy experts surveyed by the Times.

And a Bachmann spokesman has backed off her prediction last month that the act will boost abortions in the U.S. by 30 percent. . . .

Eric Loehr, a St. John’s University student whose commentary is published the second Monday of each month as part of the Time Writers Group, observes in Bachmann’s promise is foolish:

The words of 6th District U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, last week at her re-election rally in Minneapolis were like those of a whining toddler at the neighboring table at a restaurant. Nothing is ever good enough.

It doesn’t seem all that outrageous to think that in a re-election rally speech, one might make campaign promises and commit to working toward specific goals. However, all that came from Bachmann was negativity, the word “no” and yelling for repeal.

“We’re about repealing all of Obamacare and all of the Obama agenda this fall,” Bachmann said.

Beliefs and opinions aside, this is just bad politics. Negative language and the slogan to rewind are unappealing and destructive….

Read the full text of both articles at the St. Cloud Times.

Outside the district, a conservative commentator notices Bachmann doesn’t do much. The American Spectator’s Nicole Russell writes in Bachmann Turns to Overdrive:

Still, Bachman’s headline-grabbing stunts, time spent on talk radio and cable, and even labels from staff and peers would be worth it if she could put her money where her mouth gabbed. This is her second term as a U.S. Congresswoman. She has yet to sponsor and pass any effective legislation at all, let alone any related to the issues that put her in the spotlight — though in her defense she’s outnumbered, and to her credit, she has co-sponsored some good bills.

Nonetheless, Russell applauds Bachmann’s ability to throw rhetoric red meat to the conservative base. Constituent Karl Bremer takes a close look at how much the nothing and hot air are costing taxpayers.

While Bachmann is, in Russell’s words, unable “to sponsor and pass any effective legislation at all, let alone any related to the issues that put her in the spotlight,” her staff expenses have risen more than those of any other member of Congress. In Michele Bachmann’s Staff Salaries Skyrocketed 26.4% In 2009 a post at Dump Bachmann, Bremer writes:

While Michele Bachmann has developed a reputation as a champion for cutting government spending, her own 2009 congressional staff salary budget mushroomed by $176,868 – a whopping 26.4 percent – over her 2008 staff budget, even though her congressional workload didn’t change.

At the same time, Bachmann’s national media profile took a dramatic jump in 2009 due to her frequent cable tv appearances and campaign speaking engagements around the country.

Are taxpayers subsidizing Bachmann’s campaign expenses and increased media exposure with a congressional staff growing at more than twice the rate of anyone else in the Minnesota delegation? That’s hard to tell, because a number of Bachmann staffers also work as consultants to her campaign.

Read the rest. Bremer notes that:

While this double-dipping practice is legal, it’s relatively rare. In fact, among the Minnesota delegation in 2009, only two part-timers on Rep. James Oberstar’s congressional staff worked simultaneously on his campaign staff.

Bachmann famously said in 2008 that we are the “workingest” state in the union, Crooks and Liars posted in Michelle Bachman Is Proud People Have To Work Two Jobs. Who knew she was talking about her own staff? 

Those who want more values for their dollar might consider giving to Tarryl Clark’s campaign or to those cool cats at the Residents for Accuracy and Truth Political Action Committee.