This column is full of factual statements

Imagine you walk into a doctor’s office. You step on the scale and you see a number. The doctor writes a number twenty pounds lighter. He feels your arm and randomly writes a good score for your blood pressure. Confused, you ask the doctor what’s going on. His response: “These aren’t intended to be factual measurements, but are rather to illustrate that you look healthier.”

You would probably be confused. The information on which you base your decision won’t make you healthier if the doctor is fudging the numbers.

Didn’t I go to the doctor’s office to get facts about how I’m doing and how to get healthier?

I’m obviously not talking about a real doctor. A real doctor who did these things would never be allowed to practice medicine again. However, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican senator, essentially did that when he claimed “well over 90 percent” of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion. Every fact-checker called him out on that, as that number is actually 3 percent. This led to Kyl’s office responding with this actual line: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but was rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.” Kyl made this remark on the floor of the Senate, where the business is debate, and he admits that he lied to make a point. How can we trust what he says if he admits to lying, not mistakenly, but rather as part of his argument?

That is not the first fact-based issue that Kyl’s Republican colleagues have had. For example, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) does not believe in global climate change, so he proposed cutting all money from what he called “junk science,” the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which focuses on fact rather than opinion. Luetkemeyer proposed this cut based on his personal review of the IPCC’s work and his experience as a farmer and a banker. While these jobs make him highly qualified to represent rural Missouri, they do not qualify him to fact check the IPCC. He looked at what the panel was advocating for, saw he disagreed with it and decided that it was “junk science.”

Facts are critical to any debate, but as the great former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” And that’s fair. Luetkemeyer is entitled to his own opinion, but refusing facts by opposing organizations is not the way to win arguments.

Perhaps Luetkemeyer is just a member of his caucus. All but one House Republican voted against the majority of scientists by voting against a resolution recognizing climate change as a man-made event with disastrous consequences, clearly basing their voting on opinion rather than on fact.

This problem is probably top-down, and no man leads his party more than House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). He strongly defends his policies against any opponent, be it unions or the pro-choice movement.

He is willing even to repeatedly attack the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which scores specific policy proposals and talks about how the policy would affect the budget. He even said that the CBO is “entitled to their opinion.”

The media and those who dislike making up facts have criticized Kyl for his comment on the floor and the ensuing explanation. However, Kyl simply follows his Republican colleagues’ lead when it comes to facts. The current policy of mistreating facts is not something that we as thoughtful constituents can tolerate. As students, making up facts is something that would get us fired from our jobs or kicked out of school. We hold our employees, these congressmen, to the same standard. In the next election, we should vote out and rid Washington of politicians who live by Boehner’s musing, “Facts have a liberal bias, so just make up your own.” Or something like that.

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