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Health Care attacks lead ad bombardment

Political ads are flooding the airwaves and newspapers and websites, big and small, are trying to keep up. Today we find reviews of tax attacks, Social Security pledges, and stimulus effects.

- spots a trend. Since August, they "counted at least 33 ads in 20 different House and Senate races" making a false attack on taxes against Republicans. As they summarize:

The claim refers to the FairTax proposal, a controversial idea that was considered and rejected by President George W. Bush's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform. The panel said the tax would have to be set at 34 percent (not 23 percent) to achieve its goals. It also calculated that the levy and its accompanying cash rebates would benefit both low-income and high-income taxpayers but increase the tax burden on those in the middle -- raising taxes on those making between $15,000 and $200,000 a year. But the Democratic attacks omit all those subtleties and simply strive to create the impression that the new sales tax would come on top of all existing taxes. And that's not the case.

- The Seattle Times' "Truth Needle" finds errors in a line of attack perpetuated against Sen. Patty Murray by both the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and her opponent Dino Rossi:

The assertions are part of a Republican strategy that depicts Murray as a liberal with a "reckless spending agenda."

She has voted for more than $1 trillion of federal spending to stimulate the economy. Democrats say it helped to avert another depression. Republicans contend the stimulus was ineffectual and cost the nation vast sums it could ill afford.
The spending may seem to have had scant impact, with unemployment levels stubbornly stuck near double digits.

But claims that the stimulus accomplished nothing or created no jobs are hyperbole that isn't true.

- The Daily Telegram fact checks a range of ads bombarding Michigan's 7th district in the race between Republican Tim Walberg and Democrat Mitch Schauer. They point out that:

Commercials targeting Walberg give the impression that he wants to put current retirees' benefits on the chopping block.

On the one hand, support for the eventual privatization of Social Security does not automatically mean eliminating benefits for people who have already paid into the system. These commercials fail to acknowledge the true complexity of the issue.

On the other hand, Walberg's own statements invite a level of skepticism. His agreement with one interviewer's description of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" is hard to reconcile with his ads saying that he "strongly supports Social Security, always has." And any politician who supports pulling contributions out of Social Security while simultaneously avoiding any cuts to current retirees' benefits should be prepared to explain how exactly he plans to accomplish that mathematical feat.

- Further down ballot, Politifact Oregon finds a colorfully false ad in a state legislature race between Republican Bruce Starr and Democrat Chuck Riley:

Riley's ad, "On Our Side," starts with a photo of Starr and a pretty Hawaiian view in the background. A female announcer, backed by a breezy ukulele, says: "What's not pretty? The ethics commission ruled he broke the law by letting lobbyists foot the bill." (There also appears to be a pork chop dressed up to resemble a pineapple on the table.)
But it's not true.

- Finally, score one for citizen journalism. The Centre Daily Times of Pennsylvania published a letter to the editor that factchecked a print ad from the 9-12 group that ran as an inset with the paper.

By Justin Bank  | October 21, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, Fact Check 2010  
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