A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Erratic Quotes

The Obama-Biden campaign has a new, unannounced ad that says McCain has been “erratic” in his response to the financial crisis:

The ad includes various critical quotes from editorials in the Washington Post, USA Today and Politico. We looked up the original articles, and all the quotes are in context.

But the ad also cites the August 15 Tax Policy Center report, with text on screen saying “nothing for the middle class.” Within the ad, the words do not appear in quotes, but they also aren’t a very fair characterization of the report’s findings.

Actually, the Tax Policy Center report says McCain’s plan would deliver a fair amount of tax relief to the middle class, just not as much as Obama’s. The report says that “for households in the middle of the income distribution, the average increase in after-tax income ranges from 1.9 percent for singles to 4.2 percent for heads of household” under McCain’s plan. That hardly strikes us as “nothing” for the middle class, as the Obama ad says.

When we contacted the campaign about the discrepancy, a spokesman cited one of our articles from late August that found Obama distorting the same Tax Policy Center report. The report says that 65.8 million households would not see a tax cut under McCain’s plan. And that’s all households, not just the middle-class. Obama had said the number was closer to 100 million, which is only true if you take out indirect benefits from McCain’s corporate tax plan. But no matter which figure you accept, it’s a distortion to interpret either as “nothing for the middle class.” As the TPC report makes clear, at least some of those with middle-incomes would see a reduction in taxes under McCain’s plan.