On the morning of the special House election in Georgia, President Donald Trump fired off two tweets that were critical of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. Trump claimed Ossoff “will raise your taxes,” but we could find no evidence of Ossoff proposing any broad-based tax increases, such as an income tax hike.
We don’t typically fact-check claims on Election Day, but in this case Trump sent out the tweets on the morning of the April 18 election.
Republicans must get out today and VOTE in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2017
Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2017
In an election that some view as an early report card on the Trump presidency, polls showed Ossoff leading all candidates in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a special election to replace Republican Tom Price, who was tapped by Trump to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There are five Democrats, 11 Republicans and two independents running in what is known as a “jungle primary.” If one candidate does not achieve 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will square off in a runoff election on June 20. Trump has recorded robocalls for Republicans in an effort to deny Ossoff from obtaining 50 percent (it is unlikely Ossoff will reach that threshold, according to FiveThirtyEight.com).
We asked the White House press office what support it has for Trump’s claim that Ossoff “wants higher taxes,” but we did not hear back.
Ossoff’s campaign website makes little mention of taxes, saying only that he “will work in Congress to reduce the tax burden on small businesses and simplify small business tax filing.”
In a written Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the paper asked what changes candidates would make to the tax system, and Ossoff said he would seek to simplify the tax code, and that “in order to lower tax rates, we can eliminate carve-outs and special treatment in the tax code that privilege large organizations at the expense of small businesses.”
Ossoff, April 17: A country reveals a lot about its character by the tough choices it makes to balance the books. Any reform to the tax code should include aggressive simplification to ease compliance and improve profitability and competitiveness of American enterprise. The benefits of tax reform should not only flow to the largest organizations that have extraordinary access to congressional committees, but also to small and medium-size businesses and new ventures that have more difficulty raising capital, developing products, and competing with established firms. And in order to lower tax rates, we can eliminate carve-outs and special treatment in the tax code that privilege large organizations at the expense of small businesses.
When addressing health care, Ossoff also told the newspaper that he favors “small business tax credits” and would repeal the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act.
Ossoff’s campaign also provided to us supplemental answers Ossoff gave to the Brand Bank Forum, in which he talked about cutting some $500 billion in federal spending to “reduce the tax burden on middle-class families and small businesses, and simplify small business tax filing.”
Ossoff, Brand Bank Supplemental Answers, March 26: Most federal agencies could use some belt tightening, and I’ve identified more than $500 billion in federal spending that can be cut. In Congress, I’ll stand up for a fiscally responsible economic policy that maximizes opportunity for entrepreneurs, workers, and investors. I’ll work to reduce the tax burden on middle-class families and small businesses, and simplify small business tax filing. Applying my experience as a journalist exposing the abuse of power, I’ll set up a dedicated investigative unit within my office to root out corruption, waste and abuse within the federal government.
We could find no evidence of Ossoff proposing any broad-based tax hikes, such as Trump suggested.
In addition to the White House press office, we also reached out to the conservative Club for Growth — which has been active in the race — as well as the Republican Party of Georgia, to find out what taxes Ossoff planned to hike, but we did not hear back. We will update this item if we do.
Ossoff on Immigration
Trump’s statement that Ossoff is “very weak” on immigration is a matter of opinion.
For the record, Ossoff has said he supports a comprehensive immigration bill that would strengthen enforcement along the southern border and provide a “path to legal status” for some of the 11 million immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally. That generally has been the position of most Democrats in Congress and some prominent Republicans — including President George W. Bush and the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.
“America needs a strong border policy that protects American citizens and American jobs,” Ossoff says on his website. “We should welcome those strivers who, like our own forebears, seek the opportunity to work hard, play by the rules, and build better lives in America.”
In a recent interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Ossoff addressed his views on illegal immigration.
Matthews, April 17: What should we do about immigration, illegal immigration?
Ossoff: Well, the only real solution — and I think most people recognize this — is comprehensive reform that secures the border and that provides a path to legal status for non-felons who lack documentation. There’s no way that a mass deportation program of 11 million people can be carried out.
Such a plan would result in some people who now live in the U.S. illegally to remain here legally, but it would not “allow illegal immigration,” as Trump had said about Ossoff in an earlier tweet.