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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Biden’s ‘Patriotic Act’

A recent McCain-Palin ad titled “Patriotic Act” puts a new twist on some old false claims, then adds a misleading implication, just for good measure. Here’s the ad:

We can start with a list of what the ad does get right:

  1. Joe Biden did indeed say that paying taxes is patriotic.

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole list. The rest of the ad is mostly malarkey, starting with the implication that Biden called it patriotic for most Americans to pay taxes. Here’s what Biden actually said to ABC News’ Kate Snow in a Sept. 18 interview on “Good Morning America”:

Snow: Anyone making more than $250,000 is going to pay more?

Biden: You got it, it’s time to be patriotic, Kate. Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut. And the way to do that is … they’re still gonna pay less taxes than they paid under Reagan.

It’s up to you to decide whether you think that it really is patriotic to raise taxes on those earning at least $250,000 per year. But it’s clearly false to imply, as the ad does, that Biden says it’s patriotic to raise taxes on seniors, your electric bills or working Americans making as little as $42,000 per year. Biden is clearly limiting his remark to a relatively small subset of Americans.

Oh, and speaking of raising taxes on electricity, seniors and those making $42K per year …

Twice now we’ve debunked the claim that Obama wants to raise taxes on electricity. The McCain-Palin campaign’s sole support for that charge is a single out-of-context remark that Obama made in an interview with a San Antonio newspaper. And while Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal would have the effect of raising the costs of electricity, McCain also supports a cap-and-trade program.

We’ve also covered the claim about seniors (as have our colleagues at PolitiFact.com). Obama will raise taxes on your life savings, but only if you’re drawing out more than $250,000 per year from that savings. The McCain-Palin campaign bases this charge on Obama’s proposal to raise the capital gains tax from its current 15 percent to as much as 28 percent. But the campaign ignores the part where Obama enacts that raise only for couples earning at least $250K per year (or for individuals earning at least $200K).

And that claim about Obama raising taxes on people earning as little as $42,000 per year? Well, that one is getting closer to the mark. McCain previously applied the figure to families, which is false. But Obama did vote for a budget resolution that called for returning the 25 percent marginal tax bracket to it’s pre-Bush tax cut level of 28 percent. So a single, non-homeowning taxpayer earning $42,000 would in fact have seen a $15 per year tax increase. Couples would have had to earn $83,000 per year and a family of four more than $90,000 per year to be affected.