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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Credit Where it Isn’t Due

The McCain-Palin campaign is running a series of upbeat ads designed to appeal to workers in three states (Michigan, Ohio, and New Mexico – for some reason the New Mexico ad isn’t on McCain’s YouTube channel, but it sounds pretty much like the Ohio one). Sometimes even upbeat ads need a little tweaking.

Here’s the Michigan ad. In this one, McCain says that “John McCain and his congressional allies” have a plan for Michigan, including “loans to upgrade assembly lines.” The ad calls this “their plan.” This is not, strictly speaking, false – McCain supports such loans. But he didn’t come around to that way of thinking until late August, and before then, he was opposed to the idea. We already dinged Obama for implying that McCain was against loans to automakers; he’s not, now. But we don’t think he gets to claim credit for a plan he didn’t support until a month ago.

On the subject of McCain’s “congressional allies”: The bill that originally authorized funding for the loans was sponsored by a Democrat. By the time it passed, 200 cosponsors had signed on – 197 Democrats and three Republicans; McCain, as we noted, was not among them.

The Ohio and New Mexico ads, meanwhile, say McCain and his congressional allies will help those states create jobs. It mentions tax cuts as a way to make that happen and “investments in renewable energy.” That phrase caught our attention, since McCain hasn’t proposed new spending on renewable energy.

We’ve noted before that McCain uses images of wind turbines in his ads, but his energy plan says he’ll “rationalize the current patchwork of temporary tax credits” for renewables, such as wind, solar and hydro power. We’re not sure what that means, and neither were the wind and solar spokespeople that we asked.

The campaign’s support for that claim in the ad points to his plan to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and his proposal for a permanent research and development tax credit equal to 10 percent of wages spent on R&D. But those both apply to ALL corporations and aren’t specific to renewable energy.

McCain’s plan does contain specific money-backed provisions for “clean coal” and calls for new nuclear power plants. Those were the job-creating industries he mentioned at a campaign stop in Strongsville, Ohio, Sept. 23: “One important way that we are going to create jobs here is with the development of additional nuclear plants and through investments in clean coal technology,” he said. No mention of windmills in those remarks.

– Jess Henig and Lori Robertson