AmeriPAC, a conservative Republican political action committee, sent out a fundraising letter recently that accused Democrats of banning incandescent light bulbs:
The Democrats have already voted to BAN our conventional lights bulbs (that you and I use even today!) in favor of DANGEROUS fluorescent light bulbs. … Help put an end to governmental interference in our lives! Help put an end to Mr. Obama interfering with free enterprise!
PolitiFact reviewed this claim and rated it a “Pants on Fire” lie. In the first place, Republicans voted for this bill too. In fact, it was signed into law by George W. Bush.
Secondly, the bill does not ban incandescent light bulbs at all. It only requires that light bulbs be 25% more efficient, while producing equivalent amounts of light. This is a good thing, since it will save consumers money on their energy bills, reduce energy consumption by $18 billion a year, and reduce global warming.
But here’s the good part. PolitiFact questioned them about their claim that the bill bans incandescent light bulbs and they replied that it was a de facto ban because it is not possible to make incandescent bulbs that meet the new efficiency requirements:
We believe ‘ban’ is an accurate term because there is no such thing as what they require. If it’s available, where can I buy it? Why doesn’t Home Depot carry them?
Well, the truth is that Home Depot already does carry them. The Philips EcoVantage bulb is an incandescent (halogen) bulb that is for sale in Home Depot and meets the proposed efficiency requirements. Osram Sylvania and GE also make incandescent bulbs that meet the new energy requirements, but they are sold at Lowe’s.
And finally, even if the bill did ban incandescent bulbs, you still wouldn’t be forced to buy florescent bulbs, since manufacturers are now making LED bulbs that meet the new energy requirements. As as for claims that florescent bulbs are dangerous because they contain small amounts of mercury? PolitiFact found those claims to be wildly exaggerated. In fact, the use of florescent bulbs actually reduces the amount of mercury that is released.
I’ve been trying to figure out how we can deal with outright intentional lying without infringing on free speech. We already have laws against libel and slander, but they don’t work during political campaigns since by the time you could win a lawsuit against someone who lies about you, the damage would be done (in many cases, the election itself would be long over).
Maybe we need something like a political lie court, where a panel of judges (picked to be non-partisan or at least balanced) rules on political lies in a timely manner. If a politician is found guilty of a blatant lie, they should be required to correct the lie in public and apologize.
For example, AmeriPAC would be required to send out a letter correcting their false claim. Or anyone who claimed that the new health care law creates “death panels” (PolitiFact’s lie of the year) would be required to apologize on TV.