The Week In Conservative Attack Ads

This week, conservative power players descended on Tampa for the Republican National Convention. According to reports, leaders of conservative outside groups spent the week wooing GOP mega-donors, seeking even more cash for their final push to defeat President Obama.

Consequently, it was a slow week for the release of new ads. We fact-checked five conservative ads – four of them targeting separate Senate candidates, along with one unusual spot warning about “mass immigration.” Notably, none of them came from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups, which sat the week out but made their presence felt in Tampa.

“Already Going Bankrupt”

Ever since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, its conservative opponents have complained that the law “cut” Medicare, the implication being that seniors would lose benefits. This has been a common theme in attack ads, but it now appears that conservative groups are trying out a new wrinkle.

Last week, Americans for Prosperity contended that the health care law “took over $700 billion from Medicare, which was already going bankrupt, to pay for more spending.” 60 Plus Association echoed AFP this week, saying the ACA “cuts $700 billion from Medicare…to pay for more wasteful spending in Washington,” adding that “Medicare is already going bankrupt.”

The ads, running in Indiana and Virginia respectively, seem to suggest that the ACA will somehow contribute to Medicare “going bankrupt.” In fact, the opposite is true. The health care law reduces future Medicare spending, allowing it to remain solvent for longer. As New York Times reported, undoing the law’s Medicare savings would “hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years.”


The Anti-Immigrant Rap

In addition to the standard lines of attack, we looked at a singular ad from NumbersUSA urging a reduction in the numbers of legal immigrants given green cards each year. Featuring a rap song performed by an actor playing an unemployed recent college graduate, the ad blamed immigrants for the difficulties of finding a job. That’s a pretty common refrain from NumbersUSA, a nativist group with ties to John Tanton, an anti-immigrant activist with connections to the white nationalist movement. Since 2001, NumbersUSA has gotten over $800,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation, major funders of the political right controlled by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.