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Biggest lie of 2010: 'Government takeover of health care'

For the second straight year, the health care overhaul inspired the biggest political lie, according to the independent fact-checking Web site Politifact.

Last year, it was Sarah Palin's claim that there were "death panels" in the bill. The winner this year, is the term "government takeover" used by multiple Republicans, including incoming Speaker John Boehner.


In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover." ...

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. ... uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

Second place was Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that President Obama's recent overseas trip to India would cost $200 million a day.