"Politicians lie" is one of the most commonly-heard refrains about the American government, and that's because by and large, it's true. Elected officials and their associates knowingly make false statements to the public all the time, and that trend certainly hasn't slowed down since Donald Trump became president in January. This year has been chock-full of political mistruths, so let's have a look at 13 times politicians lied to us in 2017.
Many of 2017's political lies have been uttered by none other than the president himself. According to the New York Times, Trump either lied or made a factually-incorrect statement at least once a day during his first 40 days in office. That's no surprise, given that Politifact "awarded" Trump its Lie of the Year award in 2015 for the multiple false statements he made during his presidential campaign.
And yet Trump isn't the first. American presidents have been lying ever since American presidents have been a thing. Yes, George Washington did indeed tell a lie — and that behavior may be just as common in senators, representatives, White House aides, and other assorted staffers in government.
Although it can sometimes be difficult to assess the veracity of politicians' statements, it can sometimes be quite easy. The below examples fall into that latter category; they're instances in which a politician made an explicit and clear claim that simply wasn't true. In 2017, this was a sadly common occurrence.
The president said this on July 17, at which point he had signed 42 bills sent to him by Congress. But in reality, Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Franklin Roosevelt, George H.W. Bush, and Harry Truman all signed more bills into law than Trump during the equivalent periods of their presidencies, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post. In fact, Roosevelt signed 76 bills in his first 100 days, easily dwarfing Trump's 42 bills in 147 days.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
"The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence." — White House press briefing, June 29
At a February 2016 campaign rally, Trump told his supporters to "knock the crap out of" protesters who might be planning to disrupt his speech, and offered to pay their legal fees if they did.
Sen. Tom Tillis
"Last year was one of the deadliest years ever for law enforcement officers." —Press release, May 19
In no way was 2016 one of the deadliest years ever for American law enforcement officers. By just about any metric — police officers killed per year, police officers killed by criminals per year, yearly per capita rate of police officer deaths — 2016 was far less deadly for law enforcement than the majority of years in the 20th and 21st centuries. To use just one example, the average violent death rate of police officers in 2016 was about 10 deaths lower than the average for the last 50 years, according to PolitiFact.
Sen. Ted Yoho
"It’s been proven over and over again Medicaid has the worst outcomes in the industrialized world as far as the quality of health care." — PBS interview, March 14
According to PolitiFact, there have been no studies that even attempted to compare Medicaid's effectiveness to the rest of the industrialized world's health care, let alone any data that proves Yoho's claim. When confronted about this by PolitiFact, Yoho's staff said that "the congressman didn’t mean to use the word 'worst.'"
"[Trump's inaugural crowd] was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period." — White House press briefing, Jan. 21
In the same press conference, Spider claimed that around 720,000 people attended Trump's first inaugural. But Barack Obama drew an estimated 1.8 million to his first inauguration in 2009, according to CNN.
Conway is talking about remittences, and she is wrong. According to the United States Trade Representative, Mexican imports to the United States brought $294 billion to Mexico in 2015, which is roughly 10 times the amount of money that flows into the country via remittences.
Rep. Paul Ryan
"The law is in what the actuaries tell us [is] a death spiral." Press briefing, Jan. 12
A death spiral is what happens when a health insurance market simultaneously sees a spike in premiums, a drop in enrollment, and healthy people leaving the market. When Ryan made his remarks, Obamacare's enrollment was rising and healthy people were staying in the market at a steady rate, which means that by definition, the law wasn't in a death spiral. And it still isn't.
Rep. Raul Labrador
"Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care." — Town hall, May 5
A 2008 study from the Urban Institute found that 22,000 people died in the year 2000 due to lack of health insurance. A 2009 paper in the American Journal of Public Health found that lack of health insurance contributes to over 44,000 deaths per year.
Rep. Sean Duffy
"Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood do little other than provide abortions." — Press release, Jan. 24
In reality, Planned Parenthood provides birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, emergency contraception, and many other services that have nothing to do with abortion. Abortions only comprise three percent of total services that the organization provides annually.
"This issue of busing voters in to New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics. It’s very real, it’s very serious." —This Week interview, Feb. 12
Although Miller isn't the only Republican to claim that Democrats illegally bus voters into New Hampshire from other states so they can cast illegal votes for Democrats, there's no reason to think this is true. A Washington Post study was unable to find any evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire during the 2016 election, and the state's former Attorney General — a Republican — wrote in a tweet that "allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless [and] without any merit."
Rep. Kevin McCarthy
"Under Obamacare, it mandates that you have health insurance. If you don’t, you have to pay a penalty or take a waiver. More people, almost twice as many, pay the penalty or take the waiver than signed up for it." —Fox and Friends interview, June 11
McCarthy is referring to Obamacare's individual mandate, and he is incorrect. According to the IRS, around 19.2 million people either paid the penalty for being uninsured or had that penalty waived in 2015. At least 12.9 million Americans signed up for Obamacare that same year; needless to say, 12.9 is not half of 19.2
State Rep. Jesse Kremer
"The Earth is 6,000 years old. That’s a fact." — Legislative meeting, May 11
In fact, the overwhelming consensus amongst scientists is that Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, according to the United States Geological Survey, Smithsonian Magazine, the Scientific American, the Washington Post, and many others.
"China has [meddled in American elections], North Korea has and they have consistently over many, many years." — Fox News Sunday interview, July 9
There's no evidence that either the Chinese or North Korean governments have ever attempted to interfere with an American election. There just isn't.
When it comes to 2017's political lies, the above examples are just the tip of the iceberg, but they do give a good idea of what the rest of that iceberg looks like.