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RGA Continues Attack on Corzine

The Republican Governors Association is on air with another ad, with one old and one slightly revised claim about New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s record on taxes and jobs. In one instance, the group even cites our article, “Corzine’s Misleading Calls on Christie,” as the source of its claim that Corzine is “spending millions falsely attacking Chris Christie.” Not exactly. We said that one of the claims in Corzine’s ads “is outright misleading” and that “others could use some context.” However, we noted that a number of the ads’ claims were “reasonably on target.” Ironically, we previously found two of the RGA’s ads attacking Corzine to be misleading.

The claims in this ad also could use some context.

The ad says, “Jon Corzine said he’d cut taxes,” but “he raised them by billions.” There’s no source shown on screen for the claim, so we went to RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf.  He pointed to two articles that reported that Corzine’s budgets in 2006 and 2009 would raise billions through increased taxes. Schrimpf also noted that in two of Corzine’s 2005 campaign ads (one can be seen here), he said he “believe[s] in cutting property taxes” and “believes in tax cuts for the middle class” – “not higher taxes.”

Corzine did propose increasing property tax rebates for New Jersey residents during his run for governor four years ago. And Corzine’s budget this year proposed eliminating property tax rebates for all but seniors and the disabled. Corzine has said that the state can no longer afford the rebates. However, a news report in Newark’s Star-Ledger said revenue raised from a state tax amnesty program will allow Corzine to restore rebates for most residents, except for those who make more than $75,000. And it’s also true that some of Corzine’s budgets have raised revenue by increasing some taxes. For example, this year’s budget increased the tax on cigarettes, alcohol and wine. Corzine has said in the past that tax increases, such as the increase in the sales tax in 2006, were necessary to fill state budget gaps. And the New York Times reports that this year’s increase in taxes “was necessitated by a $5 billion drop in revenues.” But you wouldn’t know all of this from just watching the RGA’s ad.

The claim that Corzine “said he would cut taxes” is a revised version of the RGA’s previous claim that “Corzine said he wouldn’t raise taxes.” But as we noted, Corzine wouldn’t go so far as to promise he wouldn’t increase taxes during his run in 2005. He said that he wouldn’t raise taxes “unless … absolutely pushed up against the wall.”

The RGA ad also says, “Corzine said he’d bring jobs to New Jersey,” but “[u]nemployment’s up 73 percent.” But the ad’s 73 percent unemployment figure is out of date and is a little misleading. New Jersey’s unemployment rate at the end of May 2009 was projected to be 8.8 percent. That means that since Corzine took office in January 2006, when the rate was 4.8 percent, the state’s unemployment rate has actually increased by 83 percent. However, New Jersey’s unemployment rate is still lower than the national unemployment rate, which is up 100 percent over the same economically difficult time period.