GOP Budget Blues: How Conservative Policies Increase Inequality

As congressional leaders from both parties negotiate over the federal budget, it is important to remember that many Republicans are similarly unsympathetic to the idea that addressing inequality should be a priority. Echoing Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks, congressional conservatives routinely blame the safety net for making people “dependent” on government, implying that low-income Americans remain at the bottom of the economic ladder by choice. For instance, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the leading Republican voice on budget issues, has complained that “we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America.”

That attitude has been on display throughout the recovery from the massive recession that President Bush left behind, even as the wealthiest Americans recovered their losses and the income gap widened. In each of the past three years, Ryan has authored – and House Republicans have approved – extreme budget plans that shred the safety net while providing tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations. Republicans have repeatedly sabotaged bipartisan budget talks by demanding that working Americans shoulder the burden of deficit reduction while dismissing any proposal that requires the rich to pay their fair share. And, despite shamelessly citing the job losses that Obama inherited as evidence of his supposed failure, Republicans have been consistent in obstructing efforts to actually help the unemployed.

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Crossroads GPS: “Roadblock”

Crossroads GPS presents Heidi Heitkamp as an obstacle to Mitt Romney’s agenda in an ad called “Roadblock,” stressing that “every single vote” on the repeal of health care reform and the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy will be crucial. The ad is highly dishonest about each of those policies, falsely claiming that ending Bush’s upper-income tax breaks means taxing small businesses, and accusing Heitkamp of “cutting Medicare spending” even though her opponent voted twice for the same Medicare savings.

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American Action Network: “Again”

The American Action Network wants you to know that Rick Nolan stands “for raising taxes and killing jobs” – 700,000 jobs, to be precise. But that number comes from a study that explicitly did not analyze the actual White House proposal for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. The on-screen claim that Nolan would tax 894,000 small businesses is similarly bogus, as that definition of “small business” includes multi-billion-dollar corporations and both candidates for president. The ad is correct about Nolan’s 1975 votes on gas taxes, but they somehow fail to mention the same bill included tax credits to offset the increase in pump prices.

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Crossroads GPS: “Simple”

Armed with misleading claims and a clip of Heidi Heitkamp playing softball, Crossroads GPS alleges she “will go to bat for the Obama agenda,” while Rep. Rick Berg is the “independent voice” North Dakota needs in the Senate. Of course, Congressman Berg’s voting record does not reflect that supposed independence – but it does include two votes for the exact Medicare savings GPS attacks Heitkamp for supporting. The ad’s claim that Heitkamp wants to “hit job creators with higher taxes” fares no better under scrutiny.

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60 Plus Association: “Why Did We Fire Dan Maffei In 2010?”

The 60 Plus Association reminds voters of Dan Maffei’s support for the Recovery Act and health care reform prior to his defeat in the 2010 election. They also present those policies in a deeply misleading light, when the facts show the Recovery Act worked and the Affordable Care Act will save us money. As a kicker, 60 Plus attacks Maffei over Medicare spending reductions that his opponent, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R), voted for twice when they were included in GOP budgets.

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Crossroads GPS: “Taxing Tammy”

Crossroads GPS accuses Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) of being “far left of Obama and Pelosi” and “too extreme for Washington,” citing her support for a budget proposal introduced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The budget in question emphasized higher taxes for the wealthy, but also proposed to spend less than the president’s plan and would have eliminated the deficit faster than the GOP alternative introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “CA-10: Jose Hernandez”

The Chamber of Commerce spent $100 million in insurance company funds trying to defeat the Affordable Care Act in 2009-10, and their 2012 ads indicate they’re not over that loss yet. An ad attacking former astronaut Jose Hernandez, candidate for California’s 10th Congressional District this year, relies on trite misinformation about the law. Beyond misrepresenting the Medicare and tax provisions of the ACA, the Chamber also ignores a crucial reality: Hernandez’s opponent, Rep. Jeff Denham, voted for the same Medicare savings for which they attack Hernandez.

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The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

After last week’s wave of House ads, conservative outside groups focused most of their attention on the Senate this week. Of the 14 ads we fact-checked, eight of them targeted Senate hopefuls (five from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups and three from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), compared to only two hitting House candidates (both from the Congressional Leadership Fund). We also answered presidential ads from Restore Our Future, Americans for Job Security, and American Future Fund. Finally, Americans for Prosperity joined the conservative campaign to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Failed To Protect Medicare”

The Chamber of Commerce’s attack on Bill Nelson’s Affordable Care Act vote holds up better in the vacuum the ad presents than it does in the real world. In reality, the law doesn’t cut Medicare benefits and extends the life of the program by eight years. Also in reality, Nelson is running against a congressman who not only voted for the same Medicare savings, but supported the Republican Study Committee’s “Paul Ryan budget on steroids.”

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Heidi Heitkamp – More Government Isn’t The Solution”

The Chamber of Commerce subtly suggests that former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is a Washington insider who helped pass health care reform, without mentioning that her opponent has been in Congress for two years. The subtext might not be so interesting if the ad weren’t centered around Medicare spending reductions. Congressman Rick Berg voted for those same measures twice, while Heitkamp’s voted for them zero times. And while the Chamber misrepresents the Medicare and tax impacts of the Affordable Care Act, that’s no surprise; the group spent $100 million lobbying against it earlier in President Obama’s term.

Read more after the jump.