FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:36:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 McConnell’s Bloated Tax Boast http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/mcconnells-bloated-tax-boast/ Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:29:30 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=84084 A new ad from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell grossly oversells the percentage of Kentuckians that McConnell “saved” from income tax hikes last year. The ad says McConnell saved 99 percent from “Obama’s tax increases,” but the actual figure is closer to 1 percent to 2 percent.

The claim is based on the compromise McConnell helped to forge to avert the so-called fiscal cliff last year. As part of the deal, Bush-era tax cuts that were set to expire were permanently extended for individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000. McConnell estimates the tax increase falls on less than 1 percent of Kentuckians.

But the McConnell ad suggests Obama wanted the income tax rate to rise for everyone, when in fact the president only called for allowing the higher tax rates to kick in for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 — about 2 percent to 3 percent of taxpayers.

McConnell and other Republicans can credibly claim to have increased the threshold from $200,000/$250,000 to $400,000/$450,000. But that’s all. That translates to saving 1 percent to 2 percent of Americans from “Obama tax increases.”

The ad — titled “Conservative Leadership” — which has begun airing statewide on Kentucky television, emphasizes McConnell’s conservative credentials less than a month before his May 20 primary against a tea-party-backed candidate, Matt Bevin.

According to the ad’s narrator, “Last year, [McConnell] saved 99 percent of Kentuckians from an income tax increase.” On screen, it states, “Saved 99% of Kentuckians from Obama’s Tax Increases.”

Small print in the ad explains that it is referring to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. That’s the bipartisan compromise that was reached at the 11th hour to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a potent mix of tax hikes and deep spending cuts that were scheduled to kick in at the end of 2012. Absent a deal, the Congressional Budget Office warned those tax hikes and spending cuts might trigger a recession.

One of the major sticking points between the parties was the fate of the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts, which were scheduled to expire at the end of 2012. Republicans wanted to permanently extend the tax cuts for everyone, and Obama wanted to allow them expire for upper-income taxpayers. Obama staked out his position in his 2013 budget proposal, which would have allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire for individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 (increasing the top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent). That plan was consistent with Obama’s longstanding campaign promise not to raise taxes on couples making under $250,000.

Ultimately, the two sides reached a compromise on Dec. 31, 2012, and McConnell was instrumental in helping to write that deal. The bill, which Congress approved on New Year’s Day 2013, permanently extended the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making below $400,000 and couples making below $450,000. The bill passed the Senate 89-8, and McConnell was among the 40 Republicans who supported it (five Republicans opposed it). But it was also supported by an overwhelming majority of Democrats, 47-3.

McConnell’s ad says he “saved 99 percent of Kentuckians from an income tax increase,” and the text on the screen goes one step further and states that McConnell saved those 99 percent of Kentuckians from “Obama’s tax increases.” According to the McConnell campaign, without the bill, all Kentuckians would have faced a tax increase, and McConnell’s deal “saved” from tax increases all but those making more than $400,000.

The McConnell campaign points to 2011 IRS data for Kentucky that breaks down the number of income tax filers into groups based on adjusted gross income. The IRS income groups don’t match up with the legislation, so it’s not possible to determine with precision the number of taxpayers making more than $400,000. But by making the assumption that a third of those making between $200,000 and $500,000 earn more than $400,000, the McConnell campaign approximates that a little less than 1 percent of Kentuckians saw their income tax rate rise.

That’s a fair approximation, said Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center.

But again, according to Obama’s plan, only individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 would have seen a tax increase.

“It’s hard to find anyone who wanted to raise taxes on everybody,” Williams told us in a phone interview. “There were a few hard-liners, but Obama was certainly not one of them.”

In other words, McConnell can only credibly claim to have “saved” from tax increases those Kentuckians who earn between $200,000 and $400,000 (individuals) or between $250,000 and $450,000 (couples).

According to Williams, Obama’s plan would have resulted in higher income tax rates for about 2 percent to 3 percent of Americans. So McConnell would only have saved from tax increases 1 percent to 2 percent of Americans. Using the Kentucky IRS data cited by the McConnell campaign (and making the same assumptions it did), we found the compromise plan “saved” a little more than 1 percent of Kentuckians from “Obama’s tax increases.”

Any way you slice it, that’s a far cry from McConnell’s 99 percent boast.

– Robert Farley

Inventing a ‘Pelosi Republican’ in N.Y. http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/inventing-a-pelosi-republican-in-ny/ Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:12:51 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=84043 There may be nothing more damning in a Republican primary than labeling your opponent a “Pelosi Republican.” That’s what Lee Zeldin does in a TV ad attacking his opponent, George Demos, in New York’s 1st Congressional District. But this is a case of mislabeling.

The ad says Demos is funded by “Pelosi’s team” and “has been called a ‘Pelosi Republican.’ ” It features a clip of Nancy Pelosi discussing a single-payer health care system as the ad’s narrator interrupts to say, “If you like Nancy Pelosi, you’ll love George Demos.”

But Demos doesn’t share Pelosi’s political philosophy; in fact, he has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The one thing the two share is a donor — Angelo Tsakopoulos, who also happens to be Demos’ father-in-law. The ad doesn’t reveal the familial tie and employs deceptive editing to avoid any mention of it. The ad also doesn’t disclose that the person who called Demos a “Pelosi Republican” is a spokesman for one of Zeldin’s more prominent supporters.

‘Nancy Pelosi’s Team’

Zeldin and Demos are the only Republicans running for the party’s nomination in the June 24 primary. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop. Zeldin’s ad, called “Night and Day,” began airing on April 21. It’s a compare-and-contrast ad, with the first half touting Zeldin’s record as a state senator and the second half defining Demos as a “Pelosi Republican.”

Narrator: Lee Zeldin is a dedicated family man. Serves as an Army Reserve major. As state senator he successfully ended the MTA payroll tax. And led the fight against Obamacare. George Demos? His campaign is funded by Nancy Pelosi’s team. Yeah that Pelosi. It’s why Demos has been called a Pelosi Republican. If you like Nancy Pelosi …

Nancy Pelosi: I wanted single payer. I wanted public option.

Narrator: … You’ll love George Demos.

We asked the Zeldin campaign if there are any policy positions that Demos has taken that would warrant the comparison to Pelosi. The campaign provided no examples and instead pointed to news accounts of Demos’ campaign contributions, referring us specifically to an article in the Washington Free Beacon that is cited in the ad.

The Free Beacon article — which carried the headline, “Republican Candidate for NY Seat Tied to Major Democratic Donors” — notes that Demos’ wife, Chrysa, “has contributed thousands to liberal Democrats,” and his sister-in-law, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, is a “close friend to Mrs. Pelosi.” The article correctly notes that Pelosi and her husband, Paul, attended Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis’ confirmation hearing in 2010 as President Obama’s choice to be U.S. ambassador to Hungary, and that Paul Pelosi has been a business partner with Angelo Tsakopoulos.

All the “Democratic donors” cited in the Free Beacon article are members of the Tsakopoulos family. The article lists past donations made by family members to Demos when he last ran for office in 2012. Our review of the federal campaign finance records for this campaign cycle shows that at least six members of the Tsakopoulos family each have given the maximum amount of $5,200 — $2,600 for the primary and another $2,600 for the general election — for a total of $31,200. That includes $5,200 in contributions from Angelo Tsakopoulos and Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis.

The ad also cites a report in Newsday on Long Island about how Demos has seen his personal assets substantially rise since marrying Chrysa Tsakopoulos in 2012, allowing him to make a personal loan of $2 million to his 2014 campaign. That story also said that “the Tsakopoulos family and employees have given $45,500 of his $201,000 in contributions” as of Jan. 1. But this story, too, mentioned no contributions to Demos from Democratic donors other than his wife and her family.

There is no question that Demos’ campaign coffers have benefited as a result of his marriage. There is also no question that the Tsakopoulos family includes some high-profile Democrats, some of whom have given heavily to Democratic causes. Since 1990, Angelo Tsakopoulos — one of Clinton’s guests in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House — has made nearly $950,000 in political contributions, mostly to Democrats — including Pelosi’s campaign committee and her leadership committee, PAC to the Future. It also includes large sums to Democratic Party committees, such as a $100,00 check to the Democratic National Committee in 1997 when Clinton was president. The New York Post referred to Tsakopoulos as “a heavyweight donor to Clinton political campaigns” in a story about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign aspirations.

But the claim that Demos is being “funded by Nancy Pelosi’s team” is entirely without context. It’s more like Demos is being funded by his family’s team. But the Zeldin campaign ignores any mention of Demos’ family and, in fact, employs some creative editing techniques to do so.

On the screen, the ad contains this phrase surrounded by quotation marks and attributed to Newsday: “Demos taking money from a major fundraiser for Nancy Pelosi.” That would suggest one of two things: a Newsday headline or a direct quote from the story. But it’s neither. The headline was, “Demos’ House bid boosted by wife’s family fortune.” It is also not a direct quote from the article. It is an edited version without any ellipses to indicate that it has been shortened and its context changed. The full quote is this (with the parts used in the ad in bold): “Yet Demos’ new fortune has strings attached by campaign finance law. And it’s a target for Zeldin, who criticizes Demos for taking money from a major fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).”

So, the Zeldin campaign — not Newsday — is the source of the claim that Demos is “taking money from a major fundraiser for Nancy Pelosi.” The newspaper article was about Demos tapping his newfound family fortune to finance his campaign. The article also notes that it isn’t unusual for Greek Americans to support Greek-American candidates regardless of party.

Newsday, March 8: What Tsakopoulos is doing isn’t unusual in the Greek-American community, where ethnicity often trumps ideology and foreign policy on Greece often trumps domestic issues, said Nick Larigakis of the American Hellenic Institute, a public policy group.

“It’s no secret he’s a major Democratic supporter. But he has certainly supported Greek-American candidates on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

That’s accurate. The campaign finance database at the Center for Responsive Politics shows that since 1990 Tsakopoulos has donated to the campaign committees of several Republicans of Greek heritage, including a combined $11,900 to Rep. Gus Bilirakis and his father, former Rep. Michael Bilirakis, both of Florida; $7,000 to former Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine; and $2,000 to former Rep. Mike Pappas of New Jersey.

‘Pelosi Republican’

The ad also says Demos “has been called a ‘Pelosi Republican.’ ” But by whom? The ad attributes it to the Free Beacon. Actually, it is David Laska, a spokesman for New York Republican Party chairman Ed Cox, who has endorsed Zeldin. In the Free Beacon article, Laska is quoted as saying, “Everybody’s heard of the Reagan Democrat. George Demos is the world’s first Pelosi Republican.”

The ad then goes beyond that clever retort by suggesting — without evidence — that Demos is politically aligned with Pelosi on policy issues. As we said, the ad shows Pelosi talking about a single-payer health care system, and then the narrator interrupts to say, “If you like Nancy Pelosi, you’ll love George Demos.” But Demos opposes the Affordable Care Act — Obama’s signature health care plan that Pelosi shepherded through the House. In his first TV ad, Demos vowed to repeal “Obamacare,” as he calls it.

The Zeldin campaign acknowledged to us that Demos wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but insisted that the clip of Pelosi talking about health care wasn’t meant to suggest that Demos agrees with Pelosi on health care. It was used, we’re told, only to highlight the connection between Demos and Pelosi. The Zeldin campaign also noted that Demos — who has never held office before — has no record, so it “begs the question” of whether the campaign contributions would influence his decision-making if elected to Congress.

But Zeldin’s campaign fails to produce any evidence of a political or public policy connection between Demos and Pelosi, a popular Republican boogeyman, other than a possible acquaintance through his in-laws. The ad omits the fact that “Pelosi’s team” is really Demos’ in-laws, and not-so-subtly introduces a straw man argument by showing a clip of Pelosi talking about health care.

It’s Zeldin’s right to make an issue of Demos being a self-funded candidate. It is common for candidates to criticize such opponents for trying to “buy an election,” as was the case in a 2000 Senate election when Jon Corzine spent $34 million to win a seat in New Jersey. In this case, Demos has already pumped $2 million of his own money into the race, and Newsday says he may invest more. But the ad doesn’t do that. Instead, it creates a narrative that isn’t supported by the facts.

– Eugene Kiely

American Encore http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/american-encore/ Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:26:00 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83061 playersguide2014_135pxPolitical leanings: Conservative/Republican

Spending target: At least $10 million

American Encore, formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights, is an Arizona-based 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization that has ties to billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch. CPPR was formed in April 2009 in opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Its stated mission was to “protect the rights of patients to choose and use medical care providers, promote the relationship between patients and their medical care providers, [and] advocate the rights of patients to independence and autonomy.” In February 2014, it changed its name to American Encore, stating more broadly that it “advocates limited government and free enterprise and is committed to protecting individual liberty, including the rights of patients to choose and use their desired medical care providers.”

American Encore is led by Sean Noble, who also headed CPPR. Before signing on as executive director to CPPR in 2009, Noble was chief of staff to Republican Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona for 10 years. Although Noble did not take a salary as director of CPPR, the group paid $23.4 million to three of his consulting firms.

According to a press release, American Encore plans to spend $10 million in 2014 on an online and TV ad campaign targeting politicians who it believes are infringing on the free speech of their political opponents by advocating new IRS rules that would limit the political activity allowed by 501(c)(4) groups like American Encore. It said it would spend $300,000 on an ad targeting Minnesota Sen. Al Franken for supporting these new rules. The group also spent $30,000 on a similar ad aimed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. CPPR was one of 60 conservative organizations to sign a letter in February to Congress urging a yes vote on legislation to block the IRS for one year (until after the 2014 elections) from implementing new rules to define and limit political activity by “social welfare” nonprofits.

Most of CPPR’s spending and income has been in the form of grants. Between 2009 and 2012, CPPR distributed more than $182 million in grants, including $167 million to conservative advocacy groups, such as the American Future Fund (more than $63 million), Americans for Responsible Leadership (more than $25.5 million), 60 Plus Association (nearly $16.7 million), Americans for Prosperity (nearly $16 million) and Americans for Limited Government (more than $7 million).

The Center for Responsive Politics has called CPPR the “linchpin in one of the most complex networks of dark money in the country,” a network spearheaded by the Koch brothers. The network — which is charted in this graphic – included 17 allied conservative organizations that together raised at least $407 million for the 2012 elections. The Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets Blog won a 2013 Sigma Delta Chi public service award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its reports on dark money groups.

American Encore does not have to disclose its donors. However, the Center for Responsive Politics discovered some of the group’s funding by sifting through the 990 tax forms for the 501(c) groups that must disclose the names of organizations to which they make donations. It found that CPPR has received most of its donations from other nonprofits, including TC4 Trust and Freedom Partners. Freedom Partners — which has current and former Koch Industries officials on its board funneled $115 million of the $236 million in grants that it distributed to conservative organizations in the 2012 cycle to CPPR. Between August 2009 and June 2012, CPPR received nearly $28 million from TC4.

In 2012, CPPR was caught up in a legal controversy when California’s Fair Political Practices Commission and the state attorney general launched an investigation of campaign contributions made to the Small Business Action Committee, which opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax plan and supported an anti-labor union ballot measure in the 2012 election. A state investigation found that CPPR funneled $11 million to SBAC and $4.08 million to a group called California Future Fund.

The Fair Political Practices Commission called the $11 million donation “the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history.” A settlement reached a year later required CPPR to pay $1 million to the state for not disclosing independent expenditure contributions. In addition, the two California groups were required to pay the state $15.08 million, the amount they had received from CPPR without disclosing the source.

Tillis Response Ad Cries ‘False’ http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/tillis-response-ad-cries-false/ Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:57:23 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=84029 A TV ad from GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis says that a recent attack ad about him from the Senate Majority PAC is “false.” We don’t think so.

The Tillis campaign’s response ad says, “Seen those ads attacking Thom Tillis? They’re false. Tillis fired the staffers.” That’s a reference to an ad from the liberal Senate Majority PAC that says two of Tillis’ former top aides had inappropriate relationships with lobbyists, later “resigned” and then were “rewarded” with “taxpayer-paid bonuses.”

Based on news reports, we think the Democratic super PAC’s account is accurate.

The Senate Majority PAC ad refers to Charles Thomas and Amy Hobbs, who are North Carolina House Speaker Tillis’ former chief of staff and former policy adviser, respectively. Thomas, the chief of staff, also shared an apartment with Tillis in Raleigh, N.C.

Both Thomas and Hobbs “resigned,” according to news reports, less than a week apart in 2012 after their intimate relationships with lobbyists became public. In addition, both aides, together, reportedly received more than $19,000 in severance pay from the speaker’s office “in lieu of notice” after resigning.

Here’s how the narrator of the liberal group’s ad describes the incident:

Senate Majority PAC ad: Thom Tillis shared an apartment with his chief of staff when North Carolina news reported that the chief of staff was having an extramarital affair with a lobbyist. He was caught on camera and resigned. Then one week later, another Tillis staffer resigns for another sexual relationship with a lobbyist. Thom Tillis’ reaction? He claimed he was surprised by his roommate’s affair, but then rewarded both aides with taxpayer-paid bonuses. Thom Tillis: Spending our money to clean up his mess.

The Tillis campaign’s response ad says that the liberal group’s ad is “false,” and it accuses Sen. Harry Reid, who is linked to the super PAC, of “meddling” in the GOP Senate primary in North Carolina to get a “weak opponent” for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

What exactly is “false” about the ad, as the Tillis campaign’s TV spot says?

In an email to FactCheck.org, Jordan Shaw, the Tillis campaign manager and spokesman, said the Senate Majority PAC ad “is false because it failed to note that Speaker Tillis forced them to resign and it is wrong in saying he ‘rewarded’ them with bonuses. He did no such thing — it was severance in conjunction with their forced resignation.”

But we don’t see that either point makes the Senate Majority PAC ad “false.”

Shaw said that Tillis “initiated the action that resulted in the termination of employment” for both Thomas and Hobbs. “He asked for (and received) their resignations,” Shaw added.

That may be, but the ad doesn’t say that Tillis didn’t initiate the action, either. We think most viewers would make the reasonable assumption that the boss – in this case Tillis – asked for the resignations or certainly willingly accepted them.

In most cases, news organizations reported the departures of Thomas and Hobbs as resignations, including the News & Observer stories cited in the Senate Majority PAC ad. Even Tillis himself had previously described his former staffers’ departures as resignations and not firings. Although, in the case of Hobbs, Tillis reportedly asked for her resignation, according to WRAL-TV in Raleigh. Tillis told the News & Observer that Thomas “verbally offered his resignation,” which he accepted.

It also isn’t necessarily “false” to say that Tillis “rewarded” Thomas and Hobbs with “taxpayer-paid bonuses.” That’s a judgment call. Clearly, some may see it that way and others may not. The fact is that Tillis’ office gave both Thomas and Hobbs each about a month’s worth of salary after they were no longer employed by the state.

Local media reported that Thomas received $9,338.94 in unused vacation time and $12,500 “in lieu of notice,” according to records from the General Assembly controller’s office. Hobbs was paid $6,833.33 “in lieu of notice” in addition to $4,632.20 in unused vacation time. However, news reports at the time said there was no requirement for Tillis to award payments “in lieu of notice.”

As WRAL-TV reported:

May 17, 2012: Payment for unused vacation time is standard for state employees who resign. But “Payment in Lieu of Notice” is not. Legislative employees like Thomas are “EPA” – exempt from the State Personnel Act – and can be fired at will with no notice.

The News & Observer reported something similar:

May 17, 2012: Under North Carolina law and rules, however, high-ranking legislative employees are exempt from state personnel laws and generally work “at will,” meaning they can be dismissed for no reason and without severance.

According to the WRAL story, Tillis told reporters that he believed that the payments were “fair,” because the staffers had to sever ties with his office immediately and were not allowed to give the standard two weeks’ notice. He also released a statement saying that both Thomas and Hobbs had worked for his office for a period of time without pay.

“I accepted their resignations because their personal choices were not acceptable in my office. I recognized that their jobs and careers were forever affected by their choices, and that serious family obligations still existed for each of them. I stand by my decision to accept their resignation while recognizing the difficult transition period they are now entering,” Tillis’ statement said.

Tillis may believe that the severance pay to his former staffers was “fair,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it was taxpayer money that wasn’t required to be given to them. And while his campaign now claims that Tillis fired both Thomas and Hobbs, it doesn’t change the fact that he had previously described their departures as resignations that he had accepted.

That context isn’t mentioned in the Senate Majority PAC’s 30-second TV spot, but it doesn’t make the ad’s claims “false.”

– D’Angelo Gore






Playing Politics with the Pay Gap http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/playing-politics-with-the-pay-gap/ Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:49:13 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83911 Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn took a page from Democrats when she wrongly claimed that “the White House [is] paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in comparable positions.” That’s not true for the same reason Democrats have been wrong when they’ve said women in the U.S. earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for doing the same work. Neither is a direct comparison of pay for doing the same job.

Blackburn’s claim was based on an analysis of White House staff members’ pay by the conservative American Enterprise Institute that concluded female staffers earn 88 cents on the dollar compared with men. The analysis, by Mark Perry, an AEI scholar and a professor of economics at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan, looked at salary data from the “2013 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff.” He found that the 229 women employed in the Obama White House earned a median salary of $65,000 last year, compared with a median salary of nearly $73,729 for the 229 men on the White House staff.  Here’s the accompanying graphic:


That statistic was cited by Blackburn on CBS’ “Face the Nation” when she was asked why Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2014. Blackburn said she found the Democrats’ ” ‘war on women’ rhetoric just almost silly.” The Tennessee Republican argued that the proposed law would have been a boon to trial lawyers, and that Democratic initiatives like the Affordable Care Act are “very unfair to women.” And then Blackburn cited the disparity in pay among White House staffers.

Blackburn, April 13: And by the way, the White House is paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in comparable positions. They need to go clean up their own act first.

The 88-cents figure was put to White House spokesman Jay Carney during an April 7 press briefing. Carney said the disparity had nothing to do with women earning lesser pay for doing the same jobs.

Carney, April 7: And here at the White House equal pay legislation deems that there should be equal pay for equal work, and that’s what we have — men and women in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries. …

I think that those studies look at the aggregate of everyone on staff, and that includes from the most junior levels to the most senior. … And when it comes to the bottom line that women who do the same work as men have to be paid the same, there is no question that that is happening here at the White House at every level.

The AEI study didn’t compare wages for similar positions, but the AEI’s Perry told us in an email that Carney is “probably basically correct” when he says the pay for men and women in the same positions with the same experience level is likely the same. As a New York Times graphic on such salaries said, most White House salaries are set by a pay schedule. “So it’s probably a matter of just following a formula based on job title, previous job experience, and maybe level of education,” Perry said.

The New York Times breakdown of the jobs by pay scale shows that women slightly outnumber men in the bottom two income categories, while men slightly outnumber women in the top two. Perry agreed that the pay gap in the White House is “partly/mostly explained” by that graphic. There are simply more women in lower-paying junior positions, and so the median salary lags that of men.

And that is why Blackburn’s comment that “the White House [is] paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in comparable positions,” (our emphasis) is incorrect. The comparison is for all jobs, not comparable ones, and men hold more of the upper-level positions.

Democrats Wrong on Pay Gap, Too

For much the same reason, we were critical of the Obama campaign when it made the claim in a 2012 reelection campaign ad that women are “paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.” The statistic is based on the most recent annual Census Bureau findings on median annual income. The Census Bureau concluded that, in 2010, “the earnings of women who worked full time, year-round were 77 percent of that for men working full time, year-round.”

But as we wrote in 2012, that’s the median (midpoint) for all women in all jobs, not for women doing “the same work” or even necessarily working the same number of hours. Furthermore, the raw gap for all women is not quite as large when looking at weekly earnings rather than yearly earnings.

According to the latest Labor Department figures, women earned 81 cents on the dollar when looking at weekly earnings in 2012. The median weekly earnings for women working full time at jobs paying a wage or salary was $691, compared with $854 for men. And although all these workers had normal work weeks of at least 35 hours (the minimum for “full time”), the Labor Department study noted that, for whatever reason, “men are more likely than women to have a longer workweek.” It said that among men and women who had a 40-hour workweek, “women earned 88 percent as much as men earned.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 2013: Twenty-six percent of men worked 41 or more hours per week in 2012, compared with 14 percent of women who did so. Women were more likely than men to work 35 to 39 hours per week: 12 percent of women worked those hours in 2012, while 5 percent of men did. A large majority of both male and female full-time workers had a 40-hour workweek; among these workers, women earned 88 percent as much as men earned.

Hours worked is just one qualifier. Studies also have found that women are disproportionately represented in jobs that pay lower salaries. Breaking figures down by occupation, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed women doing the “same work” (that is, within the same occupational groupings) often make much more than 77 percent of their male counterparts’ median weekly earnings.

The IWPR study found that “median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations.” But for the most part, the gap for “the same work” is not as wide as 23 cents. Of the 36 different occupational categories in the study, in only seven were women paid 77 percent of the pay of men or less.

Pay disparity figures — particularly when they claim to be tied to doing comparable jobs — imply discrimination, and experts say only part of the gap is due to discrimination. An economist and a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis concluded that the economic literature indicates the actual pay gap between men and women with similar characteristics is “much lower” than the raw gap. Despite the gains in recent decades, they wrote:

Natalia Kolesnikova and Yang Liu, October 2011: Men are more likely to be lawyers, doctors and business executives, while women are more likely to be teachers, nurses and office clerks. This gender occupational segregation might be a primary factor behind the wage gap.

Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told us in a phone interview that researchers have estimated that somewhere between 25 percent and 40 percent of the wage gap can be explained by discrimination.

In recent speeches, Obama has frequently cited the 77-cents figure, but he has been careful not to directly link it to performing the same work. Still, we can see how some might get the impression that Obama is talking about women doing comparable work. The president often concludes — as he did after citing the statistic during his State of the Union address — that “women deserve equal pay for equal work.” And when he uses the statistic, it is usually in the context of the need for laws to prevent gender discrimination in pay.

Another Democrat has simply misused the statistic. In a recent TV ad that features his two grown daughters, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf says, “As the father of two daughters, I’m especially sensitive to the fact that women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, when they do the same work.”

Again, the 77-cents figure is not a statistic comparing men and women’s salaries for doing the same work. It is an aggregation of salaries for all full-time men and women. And the same is true for the 88-cents figure that Blackburn used for the White House. That’s what women earn for every dollar men make for all positions, not for doing “comparable work.”

– Robert Farley

More Weak Claims on Cotton’s Insurance Ties http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/more-weak-claims-on-cottons-insurance-ties/ Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:12:31 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83943 Another liberal group is attacking Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas by saying Cotton has experience in the insurance industry and is attempting to undermine Medicare. Cotton’s insurance experience is limited to consulting work for a federal agency.

Last week, we fact-checked an ad from Senate Majority PAC that claimed Cotton, who’s running for Senate in Arkansas, “got paid handsomely working for insurance companies.” Now, Patriot Majority USA, a 501(c)(4) that is allied with Senate Majority PAC, is airing an ad that says Cotton once “bragged about his insurance industry experience” on his website “but now it’s been removed.” Cotton’s Senate campaign website has never claimed he had insurance industry experience. His Facebook page mentions consulting work that was done for a federal agency, not insurance companies.

Last week’s Senate Majority PAC ad made the old claim that Cotton wants to “end Medicare’s guarantee,” costing seniors “$6,000 more a year.” The new ad from Patriot Majority claims Cotton backed a plan that could “cost seniors up to 1,700 more a year.” The plan Cotton supported would take away discounts and increased coverage of prescription drugs. But the claim pertains to a small percentage of seniors on Part D prescription drug plans.

Still Nothing to Insurance Industry Claim

The ad makes an issue of Cotton’s so-called ties to the insurance industry, claiming that Cotton once “bragged about his insurance industry experience” on his website, “but now it’s been removed.”

This is a new twist on the Senate Majority PAC ad’s claim that, “Before Congress, Cotton got paid handsomely working for insurance companies and corporate interests.” As the Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler, aka the FactChecker, noted via Twitter, that ad, titled “Connect the Dots,” won the “fact checker trifecta” with FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and Kessler all pointing out that there was no evidence that Cotton did work for insurers. His only established connection to the industry involved consulting work for the Federal Housing Administration.

The thin piece of evidence for the Senate Majority PAC’s claim came from Cotton’s Facebook “about” page. Here’s a screen grab of what it says:


As our reporting uncovered, that insurance experience amounted to consulting work done on behalf of the Federal Housing Administration to help its Office of Multifamily Housing Programs better manage its backlog. Any money that McKinsey — where Cotton was a consultant — made from the FHA project would have ultimately come from the federal government, not from private insurance companies. And so, we concluded, the insinuation that Cotton’s time at McKinsey gave him ties to the insurance industry — that are now influencing his views on Medicare — was simply misplaced.

There’s nothing new in the latest ad from Patriot Majority to back up the claim about Cotton’s ties to the insurance industry. However, the ad says that a reference to insurance industry experience was once proudly displayed on Cotton’s website, “but now it’s been removed.”

Patriot Majority notes that Cotton’s biography on his congressional campaign website on May 25, 2012, (retrieved via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine) used the identical language as is found on Cotton’s Facebook page now. Cotton’s biography on his current Senate campaign website, however, does not. Here’s a screen grab of the pertinent section of the biography on the Senate campaign website:


In other words, there’s no list of Cotton’s “industry experience.” So, did Cotton’s campaign remove the “insurance” reference on the campaign Web page? We also went to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and could not find that the language was ever used on Cotton’s Senate campaign website. The biography on the Senate campaign website is shorter than the one on the House campaign website from two years ago (220 words compared with 372). Also left off from the congressional campaign website was the fact that Cotton enjoys running marathons. Was that also suspiciously “removed”?

The ad says Cotton wants us to “forget” that he once “bragged about his insurance industry experience” on his website. If that’s the case, Cotton isn’t doing a very good job. That same descriptive paragraph mentioning “insurance” remains on his Facebook page.

The Medicare Meme

In what has become another theme of the Arkansas Senate race, the Patriot Majority ad criticizes Cotton for supporting the House GOP budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan. Specifically, it attacks Cotton for what Ryan’s plan would do to Medicare. The ad says: “Cotton pushed a plan that would undermine Medicare’s guarantee. And could cost seniors up to 1,700 more a year.”

In Ryan’s premium-support plan, seniors would choose either traditional Medicare or a private insurance plan purchased with a subsidy sent to the insurer. Critics say that the plan would “undermine” traditional Medicare. That’s debatable. Supporters of the plan say risk-adjustment measures would guard against the situation opponents predict: traditional Medicare becoming too expensive, because it was filled with older and sicker beneficiaries. We’ve explained the policy debate before.

As for the “up to” $1,700 claim, viewers would have to pay attention to the on-screen graphic to see that it’s referring to prescription drugs. The announcer doesn’t say that, but text on the screen reads: “Costing seniors up to $1,700 more on prescriptions.” As we’ve said before, the Ryan plan would increase costs for some — but not all — seniors because it repeals a provision of the Affordable Care Act that lowered prescription drug costs for some seniors. The Republican House budget would do away with the ACA provision that slowly closes the so-called “doughnut hole” in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

But not all seniors reach the “doughnut hole” gap in coverage; in fact, most do not. Here’s how the gap works: Medicare covers prescription drug costs, minus a deductible and co-pays, until total costs reach $2,850 for the year for a beneficiary, in 2014. A beneficiary would then have to pay the full drug costs out of pocket until total out-of-pocket expenses reach $4,550. At that point, a senior’s drug costs are again covered, minus a 5 percent co-pay. The full cost of this gap in coverage for a beneficiary would be $1,700, the figure the ad uses.

The ACA now offers discounts on drugs purchased in that gap and slowly closes the doughnut hole until it’s gone in 2020. At that point, drug costs that previously fell in the gap would be covered, but seniors would have a 25 percent co-pay.

Seniors could face some higher costs under the ACA provision, too. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that “the premiums paid by beneficiaries will increase slightly” under the ACA because drug manufacturers would increase prices slightly to compensate for the discounts they must provide. CBO still said that seniors who reach the gap in drug coverage “will probably pay less for their drugs overall.”

And by 2020 that gap in drug coverage could be wider than $1,700, if the ACA provision were to be repealed. The Department of Health and Human Services estimated in a 2012 report that beneficiaries who reached the doughnut hole would save an average of $1,734 in 2020 and $1,969 in 2022 due to the closing of that coverage gap.

Whatever the true figure is, only the seniors who completely spanned that gap stand to gain the most under the ACA, and lose the most under the Ryan plan.

As of 2013, 35.7 million seniors had Part D drug plans. How many seniors does the doughnut hole affect? A spokesperson at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told us 4.3 million beneficiaries received discounts while in the coverage gap in 2013. So they’d pay something more under the Ryan plan.

How many would have completely surpassed the doughnut hole? According to a March 2014 MedPAC report to Congress (see pages 365-366), only 8.4 percent of enrollees in 2011 — slightly more than 2.6 million seniors — completely surpassed the gap, reaching what’s called the “catastrophic phase,” where coverage kicks in again. Most of those, however, received a low-income subsidy that “effectively eliminates the coverage gap,” MedPAC says. Slightly more than 500,000 did not receive the low-income subsidy and faced the full brunt of the coverage gap. That’s less than 2 percent of all those on Part D plans, using 2011 numbers.

Those figures may well be higher today simply due to more beneficiaries being on Part D plans. It’s also possible that some seniors have avoided the coverage gap in the past by reducing or changing their medications, so more could potentially benefit from the ACA — or pay more under the Ryan plan — than these numbers indicate. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation’s research has revealed that those who hit the gap reduce their prescription drug use, likely because they want to save money. The AARP provides a “doughnut hole calculator” on its website that helps seniors figure out if they’ll hit the gap and provides a list of alternative, cheaper medications that they could possibly get to reduce their spending.

Repealing the closing of the doughnut hole would raise drug costs for some seniors. The Obama administration’s most recent estimate is that 7.9 million seniors, and those with disabilities, had saved $9.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment. For 2013, the average drug discount per beneficiary was $911. In Arkansas, 35,535 beneficiaries saved an average of $737 for the year, according to the administration’s figures.

Beneficiaries should save more as the gap is closed, and those savings would disappear under the Ryan plan. But those savings, and Patriot Majority’s claim, would affect only a small percentage of seniors.

– Robert Farley and Lori Robertson

Rand Paul’s Supply-side Distortion http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/rand-pauls-supply-side-distortion/ Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:11:59 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83945 Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul claimed that 20 million jobs were created after President Ronald Reagan’s dramatic tax cuts in the 1980s, and that this was the “last time” such job growth took place. Paul is wrong on both counts.

The fact is that the economy added just over 16.1 million jobs under the tax-cutting Reagan, but it added nearly 22.9 million under Democratic President Bill Clinton, who raised taxes.

Supply-side Myth

Paul’s misinformed recitation of economic history came during an April 12 “Freedom Summit” gathering of 2016 Republican presidential prospects in Manchester, N.H. It was a straightforward expression of the supply-side myth that tax cuts produce more revenue rather than less:

Paul, April 12: When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan. What did Ronald Reagan do? Did he come forward and say: “Oh, let’s just cut taxes for low-income people?” No, he said forthrightly let’s cut everyone’s taxes. He did dramatically. The top rate — that’s what rich people pay — was 70 percent, he lowered it to 50 percent. Then he lowered it again to 28 percent, and 20 million jobs were created. More revenue came in in fact. When you cut rates people work harder, they make more money, more revenue comes in.

Paul was right about the size of Reagan’s dramatic cuts in the federal income tax rate. When Reagan took office in 1981, the top rate was 70 percent of income exceeding $108,300 for singles and $215,400 for couples filing jointly, and during his final year in office, the top rate was just 28 percent on income exceeding $17,850 for singles and $29,750 for couples filing together.

And it’s also true that those tax cuts were accompanied by years of prosperity. The 16.1 million jobs added during his eight years in office came despite a 16-month recession that began early in his first term, before the tax cuts enacted in 1981 began to take effect. But even ignoring the jobs lost during the early part of his time in office, the economy gained only 18.4 million jobs from the low point in December 1982 to the end of his presidency. That’s an enviable number, but it’s still well short of Paul’s “20 million” claim.

And it’s not the “last time” such gains were made, either. Clinton took office in 1993 during a weak recovery from an eight-month recession that plagued the middle of Republican George H.W. Bush’s term.

To reduce the huge federal deficits — records for the time — that he had inherited from Reagan and Bush, Clinton pushed through a tax increase (and some spending cuts) in 1993. Afterward, the deficits shrank, the recovery accelerated, and it continued until the end of his presidency, becoming what is still the longest sustained economic boom in the nation’s history.

During Clinton’s eight years, the economy added far more jobs than were added under Reagan, or even the combined total under both Reagan and the elder Bush, for that matter. Clinton’s total of 22.9 million in eight years easily exceeds the 18.8 million added in the 12 Reagan-Bush years. (For a discussion of all the factors involved, see our Dec. 7, 2007, Ask FactCheck item, “Clinton and Economic Growth in the ’90s.”)

Tax Cuts = More Revenue?

Another dubious claim by Paul is that “more revenue came in” after Reagan cut taxes. As we’ve often noted, when politicians say “more” or “less,” it’s always a good idea to ask, “compared with what?”

The plain fact is, revenue fell by $17 billion, or 2.8 percent, during fiscal year 1983, which was the first full fiscal year during which the 50 percent top federal income tax rate was in effect.

Furthermore, that drop came despite the fact that the recession of 1981-82 (when unemployment hit what is still a record 10.8 percent) was ravaging the economy during all of the previous fiscal year, and a recovery commenced two months after the start of FY 1983. (Fiscal years start Oct. 1 of the preceding calendar year.) Normally, recoveries bring increases in revenues, not declines.

Later, the government did see impressive increases in revenue — 11 percent in FY 1984 and 10.1 percent in FY 1985, for example. But would those increases have been even greater had rates not been reduced, or been cut less? It’s not possible to re-run history, so nobody can say for sure.

At the time the 1981 act was passed, however, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation projected an average revenue loss of more than $111 billion per year over the first four years the cuts were in effect — compared with what was projected under the old rates. That’s noted in a document we’ve cited before, “Revenue Effects of Major Tax Bills,” compiled by a career tax analyst in the Treasury Department.

Economists generally agree that lower taxes stimulate economic activity. But contrary to what Rand claims, they say tax cuts just don’t produce enough revenue to pay for themselves, let alone bring in increased revenue. For more on that, see our Jan. 16, 2008, item, “The Impact of Tax Cuts.”

And again, Paul is simply falsifying evidence when he claims far more job growth under Reagan than actually took place, and when he says the Reagan years were the “last time” such growth occurred.

– Brooks Jackson

False Tax Claims http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/false-tax-claims/ Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:37:04 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83907 Q: Did Democrats increase federal income tax rates in 2014 under Obamacare?
A: No. Tax increases mentioned in a viral email went into effect a year earlier, as part of a budget deal supported by many Republicans as well as most Democrats.


Is this information correct? I have tried to check it out but get terribly confused.
It came as an email from a friend in Colorado.

Happy New Year America
Here is what happened on January 1st 2014:

Top Income Tax bracket went from 35% to 39.6%
Top Income Payroll Tax went from 37.4% to 52.2%
Capital Gains Tax went from 15% to 28%
Dividend Tax went from 15% to 39.6%
Estate Tax went from 0% to 55%

Remember this ‘fact;’ if you have any money, the Democrats want it! All these taxes were passed with only Democrat votes. Not one Republican voted to do these taxes. Remember this come election time. And make sure your friends and neighbors know this info too!

 These taxes were all passed under the affordable care act, otherwise known as Obama care.


We started getting dozens of queries about this one about three weeks before tax filing day. It’s nonsense. Some of these figures aren’t accurate, and none of these increases took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, or had anything to do with the Affordable Care Act. And the claim that “not one Republican voted to do these” is false.

Here’s what really happened, and when:

  • The top income tax rate went back up to 39.6 percent over a year ago — for singles making more than $400,000 a year or couples making more than $450,000. The increase was part of the “fiscal cliff” package that Congress passed on New Year’s Day of 2013.
  • Capital gains rates also increased in 2013 under the same “fiscal cliff” deal — but not nearly as much as this email claims. For long-term gains (on assets held more than one year) the top rate went from 15 percent to 20 percent (not 28 percent), and also applied to individuals making more than $400,000 and couples earning more than $450,000.
  • The top rate for dividends also went up to 20 percent (not 39.6 percent) in 2013 as part of the same fiscal cliff package, and also only for those with more than $400,000 individual or $450,000 joint taxable income.
  • It’s true that the estate tax was once effectively zero percent — but only for people who died in 2010, not last year. The top rate went back up to 35 percent for those who died the following year, and (under the fiscal cliff deal) to 40 percent for those who died in 2012 and thereafter. Furthermore, the rate is still zero percent for any individual who dies this year and whose estate is valued at less than $5,340,000. The threshold for filing an estate-tax return was set at $5 million in 2011, and is indexed for inflation each year.
  • The claim that the fiscal-cliff tax increases were “passed with only Democratic votes” is false. The deal passed by a vote of 89-8 in the Senate (including 40 Republican votes in favor) and by a vote of 257-167 in the House (with 85 Republican votes in favor). The package made permanent the 2001 Bush tax cuts for all but very high-income earners, avoiding tax increases that otherwise would have taken effect Jan. 1, 2013, when the “temporary” Bush tax cuts were scheduled to expire.

The email’s claim about “income payroll tax” is a head-scratcher, since no tax expert we know of uses such a term. Our best guess is that the anonymous author meant to refer to the combined effect of the federal income tax and the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, and did not understand how these taxes work. No combination of payroll and federal income taxes would produce a top marginal rate of 52.2 percent, so far as we can figure.

Back in 2008, when Obama was first running for president, conservative commentator Larry Kudlow claimed that Obama’s tax proposals would amount to “a 52.2 percent combined income and payroll tax.” But even that claim was wrong, because of the simple fact that the top marginal income-tax rate applied at that time only to income above $349,701 and Social Security taxes applied only to wage or salary income below $97,500. Any income taxed at the top income-tax rate would incur zero Social Security tax.

And the same is true today: Taxable Social Security wages now stop at $117,000, and the top marginal income-tax bracket doesn’t kick in until $406,751 for singles and $457,601 for joint filers. All of these levels are adjusted for inflation each year.

Having said all that, we’ll note that taxes have gone up for some as a result of Obamacare. The law imposes a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income that applies to people who earn more than $200,000 a year for singles, or $250,000 for joint filers. It also levies an additional Medicare tax of 0.9 percent on wages, salaries and self-employment income for people in those income groups. However, these changes also took effect in 2013, not 2014.

– Brooks Jackson


Tax Foundation. “U.S. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, 1862-2013 (Nominal and Inflation-Adjusted Brackets).” 17 Oct 2013.

Hollander, Catherine. “Here’s What’s in the Fiscal-Cliff Deal.” National Journal. 1 Jan 2013.

Fidelity Brokerage Services. “A taxpayer’s guide to 2013.” 27 Feb 2013.

Ruffenach, Glenn. “Navigating the Dividend Storm; Tax rates on corporate payouts are heading higher for some. Don’t just sit there.” Wall Street Journal. 10 Jan 2013.

Cook, Douglas C. “Current & Historical Federal Estate Tax Structure, Exemptions & Rates.” Cook & Cook law firm website. 17 Dec 2012.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service. “Estate Tax” Web page. 9 Apr 2014.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 112th Congress – 2nd Session. “On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 8, As Amended ).” 1 Jan 2013.

U.S. House of Representatives. “Final Vote Results for Roll Call 659.” 1 Jan 2013.

Kudlow, Larry. “Obama’s Big-Government Vision.” National Review Online. 14 Feb 2008.

Social Security Administration. “Contribution and benefit bases, 1937-2014.” Undated Web page accessed 15 Apr 2014.

Internal Revenue Service. “Questions and Answers on the Net Investment Income Tax.” 5 Mar 2014.

Internal Revenue Service. “Affordable Care Act Tax Provisions.

Internal Revenue Service. “Questions and Answers for the Additional Medicare Tax.”

Obamacare Ad Onslaught http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/obamacare-ad-onslaught/ Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:54:30 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83717 Since 2009, it has been a campaign tradition: Election cycles filled with ads about the Affordable Care Act — and overwhelmingly ads attacking the law and those who support it. The 2014 midterm election could be even more intense, with an onslaught of advertising that rivals several years’ worth of anti-ACA spending.

Kantar Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ad spending, found that $500 million had been spent on advertising about the health care law from 2009 through mid-2013. It expected another $500 million to be spent by late March 2015, the five-year anniversary of the law. That’s the same amount of spending in roughly half the time. Going forward, we could see more pro-ACA ads than we have in the past — President Obama proudly boasted on April 1 of the sign-ups on state and federal marketplaces, after all. But Kantar’s earlier tracking saw critics outspending proponents by a margin of 5 to 1.

Those numbers haven’t been updated since last summer, but Elizabeth Wilner, a senior vice president at Kantar, told us in an email: “The political ad spending continues to be overwhelmingly — really almost exclusively — tilted toward negative ads than positive ones.”

Indeed, when we sorted through ads picked up by Kantar since January, we found only a few supporting the law among a slew of attack ads criticizing it, most of which came from one group — Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group founded by billionaire businessman David Koch. The Cook Political Report called Americans for Prosperity “the most prolific advertiser of the 2014 cycle.” AFP TV spots in House and Senate races from January 2013 through late March 2014 were more than double the number of spots from Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, the leading Democratic outside-spending groups, as this graphic from Kantar shows.

The few pro-ACA ads we found did come from Senate Majority PAC. But its advertising has been drowned out by the deluge from AFP. As of March 22, AFP had aired more than 14,000 spots in nine Senate races and more than 4,000 in nine House races, according to Kantar. Not all of those are anti-Obamacare ads, but much of the group’s advertising has focused on the law.

Whether the ads come from groups like AFP or congressional candidates, many of the TV spots about the health care law make general, and misleading, claims about “millions” losing insurance, premiums “skyrocketing,” or families “hurting.” And we’re still seeing claims about a government takeover of health care, despite the fact that the law brings new business to private insurance companies and won’t lead to universal coverage.

We’ve written about these types of claims before. Many times. But with the ad avalanche continuing — and perhaps intensifying as the November midterm election approaches — we’ve summarized our previous findings and updated them with the most recent research on these common lines of attack.

For more on the onslaught of Obamacare ads, see these stories in “Party Lines” — a FactCheck.org feature on misleading talking points:

‘Millions’ Lost Insurance

‘Skyrocketing’ Premiums

ACA ‘Hurting’ Families

Government-Run Health Care

– Lori Robertson

Government-Run Health Care http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/government-run-health-care-2/ Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:50:28 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=83761 Party Lines Red InsertThe Line: The Affordable Care Act puts the government between you and your doctor.

The Party: Republican

Those “government-run” health care claims were once so ubiquitous we called them a “mantra.” They’ve died down considerably, but we’re still seeing them in 2014 congressional races. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t create a government-run system, in which the government provides health insurance, or care, to residents. It does expand Medicaid, and also boosts business for private insurers, by about 12 million customers over the next decade, and leaves intact work-based insurance on which most Americans have long relied.

An ad from Florida House GOP candidate Curt Clawson says: “You and your doctor, it’s an important relationship. But Obamacare created a trillion-dollar mountain of government between patients and physicians.”


And in an ad about how Washington is broken, Oklahoma Senate candidate T.W. Shannon says future generations will inherit “a health care system run by bureaucrats, not doctors and patients.”


As we’ve said before, the law’s regulatory provisions are more like putting the government between you and your insurance company. The ACA says insurers can’t have caps on coverage, can’t deny customers based on preexisting conditions (or charge them more), and can’t spend more than 15 percent or 20 percent on non-medical-related costs. It also requires coverage of preventive care, such as cancer screenings, with no cost-sharing.

The law doesn’t create a single-payer system, in which the government insures everyone. In fact, while the law is expected to cut the number of uninsured Americans by 25 million, it still leaves 31 million uninsured.

Republicans also have repeatedly attacked the Independent Payment Advisory Board as a bureaucrat-filled rationing board. But the IPAB, which is created by the health care law, is charged with slowing the rate of growth of Medicare spending, and it’s limited in how it can go about doing that. The law says the board’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums … increase Medicare beneficiary cost sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.” The IPAB is made up of medical professionals, health care experts, economists and consumer representatives, not bureaucrats.

– Lori Robertson