Americans For Prosperity: “Tell Tester: Start Supporting Montana”

Americans for Prosperity seeks to link Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to President Obama, calling Tester “one of Barack Obama’s favorite senators” and using a meaningless statistic to suggest that Tester casts his votes to please the president rather than to serve the people of Montana. The ad’s dishonest tactics cast doubt on its implications, however; the Affordable Care Act didn’t institute “government-run health care,” and although the debt ceiling had to be raised to allow Congress to pay its bills, Tester voted against the bank bailout.

“Government-Run”? Affordable Care Act Expands Private Coverage

Washington Post: “There Is No Government Alternative To The Private System.” According to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post:

Under the new law, there is no government alternative to the private system–this was a potential provision that was dropped during the congressional tussle–but the number of people who qualify for the existing federal-state Medicaid program for the poor will be expanded. States (or the federal government) will run “exchanges” — essentially marketplaces — in which private insurers will sell insurance to individuals and small businesses, but this should mean more people will get private insurance, not fewer. Tax credits will also be offered to people who have trouble buying private insurance.

Certainly, the law bolsters government regulation of the health care system, such as forcing insurance companies to no longer deny coverage to people who have existing medical conditions. People who currently do not have health insurance will be required to buy it. But the core of the health system in the United States will remain the existing private insurance market. So it in no way resembles the government-run health systems used in most industrialized countries in the world. [Washington Post, 1/18/11]

Sen. Tester Voted Against Wall Street Bailout

Sen. Tester Voted “Nay” On Wall Street Bailout. [H.R. 1424, Senate Vote # 213, 10/1/08]

Failure To Raise The Debt Ceiling Could Have Severe Economic Consequences

Debt Ceiling Does Not Determine U.S.’ Debt Level; It Is “A Limit On The Ability Of The Federal Government To Pay Obligations Already Incurred.” According to the Government Accountability Office: “The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred. While debates surrounding the debt limit may raise awareness about the federal government’s current debt trajectory and may also provide Congress with an opportunity to debate the fiscal policy decisions driving that trajectory, the ability to have an immediate effect on debt levels is limited” [, 2/22/11]

Failure To Raise Debt Ceiling Could Have Resulted In Default Or Had Other Severe Economic Consequences. From CNNMoney: “A failure to raise the debt ceiling would likely send shockwaves through the underpinnings of the financial system — and possibly ripple out to individual investors and consumers. The federal government would be forced to prioritize its payments. It would risk defaulting on its financial obligations. And if that happens, credit rating agencies would downgrade U.S. debt.” [, 7/21/11]

Debt Limit Has Been Raised Over 90 Times Since 1940. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Before World War I, Congress generally had to approve each separate issuance of federal debt. Since then, the limit has evolved into an overall dollar cap on the amount of debt the federal government can incur.  Since 1940, Congress has enacted 91 separate increases in the statutory debt limit, an average of one every nine months (though individual increases lasted anywhere from three days to eight years).” [, 7/21/11]

Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket

Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times: “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times1/8/09]

NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:


[New York Times, 7/24/11]

Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [, 11/18/10;, 5/10/11, citations removed]

Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:


[, 5/10/11]

CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.


[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]

Despite AFP’s Claim, Tester Has Broken With President Obama More Than Average Senate Democrat

Missoulian: “Political Scientists Say [Tester’s] At Or Below Average For Senate Democrats” In Voting With President. From the Missoulian: “While Tester’s support of Obama is high, political scientists say it’s at or below average for Senate Democrats and hardly unusual, given the fact Tester is in a Senate majority that’s the same party as the president. ‘The general rule of thumb is, if you’re serving in the majority party, you will support your president pretty much all the time,’ says David Parker, a Montana State University political science professor who’s been keeping close tabs on the contest between Tester and Rehberg. If one looks at Rehberg’s voting record during the presidency of George W. Bush, when Republicans were the House majority, it tells tell a similar tale: He supported Bush’s position 87 percent of the time, from 2001-2006.” [Missoulian, 3/4/12]

[MAN 1:] In the past, he’s made a lot of promises, but when he got to D.C., that all changed. [WOMAN 1:] He’s given us government-run health care. [MAN 2:] He’s the largest recipient of lobbyist money. [MAN 3:] Raised the debt ceiling to pay for bailouts. [MAN 1:] You might be thinking Barack Obama. [WOMAN 1:] Close. [MAN 2:] He’s one of Barack Obama’s favorite senators. [MAN 1:] Jon Tester. [WOMAN 1:] The same Jon Tester who talks one way in Montana, votes 95 percent of the time with Obama. [MAN 2:] Tell Tester to quit supporting Obama’s interests, and start supporting Montana’s. [Americans for Prosperity via, 6/18/12]