Washington Post Gives Ocasio-Cortez’s Pentagon Claim Four ‘Pinocchios’

Amber Athey | Media and Breaking News Editor

The Washington Post gave congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “four Pinocchios” Tuesday for her recent claim about Pentagon funding and Medicare for All.

Ocasio-Cortez claimed in a Monday tweet that unaccounted for Pentagon funding could have been used to pay for her expensive Medicare for All plan.

According to an audit of the Pentagon between 1998 and 2015, $21 trillion in funds “could not be traced, documented, or explained.”

“Medicare for All costs ~$32T. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon,” Ocasio-Cortez asserted.

The Washington Post’s fact check team debunked Ocasio-Cortez’s faulty logic in a Tuesday morning post, calling the tweet her “$21 trillion mistake.”

WaPo explains that the $21 trillion in unaccounted for Pentagon money is the sum of all transactions, “not one big pot of dormant money collecting dust somewhere.”

“The figure cited had to do with the accounting for inflows and outflows within the Pentagon budget, meaning that the same dollar could be accounted for many times. It does not mean there were trillions of dollars that the Pentagon spent on pure fraud that otherwise could have been spent on other national priorities,” Philip Klein further explained in the Washington Examiner.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates her victory at La Boom night club in Queens on November 6, 2018 in New York City. With her win against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 06: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates her victory at La Boom night club in Queens on November 6, 2018 in New York City. With her win against Republican Anthony Pappas, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress. (Photo by Rick Loomis/Getty Images)

Additionally, the Pentagon audit is over a span of 17 years, while the estimated $32 trillion price tag on Medicare for All is for just 10 years.

Finally, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood noted that the Department of Defense has not been appropriated $21 trillion over the course of its existence, making it impossible for the Pentagon to have simply wasted that much money.

WaPo concluded its fact check by awarding Ocasio-Cortez “four Pinocchios” and accusing her of misleading her many Twitter followers by suggesting the Pentagon could have already funded Medicare for All.

Ocasio-Cortez is not the first Twitter user to mangle information from a news report. But it’s unconvincing to try to pass this off as a rhetorical point being misread. She cited the $21 trillion figure and said ‘66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon.’

That’s a direct comparison. It’s badly flawed. The same article she referenced on Twitter would have set her straight. The tweet is still up, probably causing confusion. So we will award Four Pinocchios to Ocasio-Cortez.

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