Fact-checkers at the Washington Post gave Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “four Pinnochios” for posting a claim on Twitter about out-of-control Pentagon spending.
Ocasio-Cortez, who supports Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal for Medicare-for-all, which estimates say would cost $32 trillion over 10 years, claimed in the tweet Sunday that “Pentagon accounting errors” could help pay for part of the coverage.
“$21 TRILLION of Pentagon financial transactions ‘could not be traced, documented, or explained.’ $21T in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs ~$32T. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums,” she wrote in the tweet that has been retweeted 25,000 times.
In the posting, Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley in June’s Democratic primary, referred to a report in the Nation that tracked Pentagon spending from 1998 to 2015 and found $21 trillion in “unsupported budget adjustments.”
The Washington Post took issue with the estimate.
“The $21 trillion is not one big pot of dormant money collecting dust somewhere. It’s the sum of all transactions — both inflows and outflows — for which the Defense Department did not have adequate documentation,” the fact-checker wrote.
Putting the number in context, the newspaper pointed out that according to the Congressional Budget Office, total defense spending from 1998 to 2015 was nearly $9 trillion. And it estimates $7 trillion in spending on defense from 2019 to 2028.
“In other words, completely defunding the military for the next decade would yield only one-fifth of $32 trillion,” the newspaper said.
A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez tried to explain in an email to the Washington Post.
“The point, I think, was more about how we care so little about the ‘how do you pay for it’ when we are talking about war and military spending,” her spokesman wrote in an email. “It’s only when we are talking about investing in the physical and economic well-being of our citizenry that we become concerned with the price tags.”
The newspaper concluded: “Swing and a miss.”“The tweet is still up, probably causing confusion. So we will award Four Pinocchios to Ocasio-Cortez,” it said.