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Antidote for Campaign Baloney? – NY “Truth Squad”

June 13, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. - New Yorkers worried about separating truth from fiction during the next five months leading up to Election Day may have the antidote for campaign baloney in a new "Truth Squad."

The group of seven experts on safety-net and social-insurance issues was assembled by a coalition called Restore the American Promise, and will be available to news media as a fact-checking resource. While they hold strong views about social policies, Truth Squad members say they will counter lies from both left and right.

Health-care reform expert Richard Kirsch, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, says they'll do some of the work journalists are supposed to do.

"This idea of saying, 'You have to say both sides' when one side is totally full of Pinocchios is absurd."

Areas of expertise covered by Truth Squad members include women's health, low-income families, Social Security and state economic issues.

Truth Squad member Eric Kingson is a professor at Syracuse University's School of Social Work who served on two presidential commissions - during the Reagan and Clinton terms - which dealt with Social Security.

"In my case, I'm firmly supportive of Social Security - a program that, whether you ask Tea Party households or union households, they all say they don't want to see it cut."

He points out that Social Security provides New Yorkers with $43 billion a year, helping one in six households in the state.

Another Truth Squad member, Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, expects to be called on soon.

"Our area of expertise at the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island will be the Medicaid program and the Affordable Health Care Act. Obviously, we will see a determination from the Supreme Court at the end of the month, so we'll be able to talk a little bit about what those decisions mean."

As Kingson puts it, 'If we're going to talk about making changes in the social safety net, we ought to do it from a common set of facts, not opinions."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY