A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Congress and Progress


Americans United For Change, a liberal labor-funded group, has released a new ad accusing congressional Republicans of opposing "progress."

The ad accuses Republicans of voting against children’s health insurance, equal pay for women, economic recovery, middle-class tax cuts and a budget that would lead to "long-term prosperity." We’ve called this group out before for unfounded claims about the Republican agenda, but this ad sticks closer to the truth. Democrats did push through bills on expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program and guaranteeing equal pay for women, both of which were opposed by most but not all Republicans. (Here are the House and Senate roll calls for the CHIP bill and the House and Senate roll calls for the equal pay bill.) All House Republicans and almost all Senate Republicans voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill. House and Senate Republicans opposed Obama’s budget, too.

But whether these amount to "saying no to progress" is a matter of opinion and definition. Congressional Republicans didn’t oppose the stimulus bill or the budget because they hate middle-class tax cuts, working families and economic recovery. They opposed the budget because it would increase spending and add to the deficit, and the ARRA because it would increase spending and because of a concern that it won’t change the gross domestic product (or could reduce it slightly) in the long term, among other reasons. Americans United for Change may feel that these considerations are less important than the bills’ positive impacts; they’re free to think so, and we won’t arbitrate that. The ad’s sponsors are entitled to their opinions. But whether viewers agree or not, they shouldn’t mistake those opinions for facts.