GOP Shutdown Sells Out Small Business

Members of Congress – both Democratic and Republican – have long touted the merits of America’s small businesses. The value of small businesses as job creators and pillars of the local community are one of the few views shared by both parties. However, Republicans are demonstrating that their affection for small businesses is not deep enough to warrant any action beyond hollow rhetoric.

With the deadline to raise the debt limit looming, Republicans have been holding the economy hostage and threatening to let the nation default unless President Obama and Democrats give in to right-wing demands. In 2011, the mere threat of default caused significant damage for small businesses and the economy; an actual default – attributable solely to Republican intransigence – would be catastrophic, rivaling the 2008 economic crisis. Yet many conservatives dismiss the potential consequences of their actions, and have convinced Speaker Boehner to follow them down this perilous path.

Although Republicans have justified their opposition to the Affordable Care Act by falsely claiming that it will hurt small businesses and kill jobs, their decision to shut down the government in a desperate attempt to stop the health care law has led to actual suffering for small businesses. The Republican shutdown has created crippling uncertainty in the form of cancelled ongoing work, delayed payments, collapsed consumer confidence, and Small Business Administration loans “in limbo.” But Republicans show no signs of concern for the small business owners they purport to defend.

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U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “PA Senate – Bob Casey”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce accuses Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) of “voting against western Pennsylvania” by supporting the health care law, a cap-and-trade bill, and EPA regulations designed to cut down on toxic air pollution. But the Affordable Care Act doesn’t, as the ad suggests, cut any money out of Medicare’s current budget. The estimate of job losses the ad cites for the cap-and-trade law comes from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and the EPA’s air toxics regulations would prevent an estimated 11,000 premature deaths per year.

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U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “What’s Tim Kaine’s Plan For Virginia”

Claiming Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine supports “higher taxes” and “fewer jobs,” an ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacks him over his support for a cap-and-trade plan and health care reform. But the taxes Kaine proposed during his tenure as governor of Virginia were designed to pay for much-needed transporation upgrades that Virginia’s Republican-controlled House wanted to pay for with long-term borrowing, and although Kaine spoke about the need for a plan to address the threat climate change poses to Virginia, he has not endorsed a specific plan. The Affordable Care Act, meanwhile, leaves the private system intact and does not raise taxes on most Americans.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “A Serious Threat To Jobs”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s argument against Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin (D) distorts her record on health care, energy, and tax policy. The insurance-industry-funded Chamber attacks Baldwin for supporting a health care bill that included a public option, ignoring consistent popular support for the proposal. Baldwin’s opposition to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy does not amount to raising taxes on small businesses (a claim the Chamber supports by citing a biased report on a flawed study commissioned by the Chamber itself). And, finally, Baldwin opposed Republican energy legislation that would have stymied efforts to make offshore drilling safer.

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False Facts: Why Conservative Groups Hope You Won’t Check Their Sources

Mitt Romney’s citation of “six studies” confirming his claims about his tax plan has unraveled rather completely at this point. When a candidate makes that kind of claim, it receives deserved scrutiny, and fact checkers rightly shredded the Republican’s line. But the evidence offered by conservative outside groups in political ads receive much less attention, despite being a near-constant presence in voters’ lives on television, radio, and the web.

The network of outside-money conservative groups we monitor often don’t bother trying to ground their claims in objective truth. Some of their most effective TV ads rely on debatable interpretations of legislation or public statements, and many simply deprive the viewer of context in order to mislead. Others cite only a piece of legislation or a floor vote, while making un-cited claims about what that vote or law meant for voters. But these well-heeled organizations tend to get themselves in trouble when they cite more specific studies or news reports to support their claims.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Jon Tester – Working for Washington”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacks Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, a cap-and-trade bill, and for the Senate’s failure to pass a budget resolution over the last three years. Contrary to the Chamber’s claims, however, the health care law doesn’t ‘cut’ Medicare benefits, and the cap-and-trade measure Tester supported would have had little impact on the average household budget.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “It’s Time To Send Him Home”

The U.S Chamber of Commerce argues Rep. Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) voting record on energy is disqualifying, but its claims about cap-and-trade come from an industry-funded study that paints a much darker picture than the Energy Information Administration’s analysis. The ad’s claims about the Keystone XL pipeline and Heinrich’s party loyalty are also dishonest.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Sherrod Brown – 4 Decades Is Long Enough”

An ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was a “deciding vote” for the Affordable Care Act, which the ad says cut $716 billion from Medicare. But Brown was one of 60 senators to support the law, which seeks to reduce future Medicare spending without taking money out of the program. The Chamber also accuses Brown of casting “a vote against Ohio energy producers” but don’t mention that Brown was voting to support an EPA rule that would limit toxic mercury emissions, thereby saving thousands of lives each year.

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The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

Including a stray late-Friday-afternoon spot that didn’t make it into our roundup from last week, Bridge Project fact-checked 10 conservative ads this week. Eight of those were from the usual players – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which focused on House races, Crossroads GPS, which took on its usual Senate targets, and American Crossroads, with a presidential ad. The remaining two came from the National Rifle Association and American Unity PAC, more minor players on the electioneering ad scene.

Rhetorically, this week saw a heavy focus on supposed threats to small business jobs, with six of the ads mentioning small businesses specifically. But most of the conservative claims about “small business” rely on distortions – for example, the conservative definition of a small business often includes large corporations and wealthy individuals rather than the mom-and-pop businesses the term conjures for most people. And the health care law, often cited as a source of crippling new taxes on small business, actually offers tax credits that will help those small businesses provide their employees with health insurance.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Cheri Bustos”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacks Illinois congressional candidate Cheri Bustos (D), claiming that her support for the Affordable Care Act disregard’s “job-killing tax hikes on small businesses” and higher taxes on middle-class families. But the claim that the law will kill jobs has been debunked, and it contains tax credits for both small businesses and lower- and middle-class families.

Read more after the jump.