Are Any GOP Campaign Ads This Year *Not* Lying to Voters?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today nd here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News, when I came across this item by Max Cohen.

Voters in the country’s most competitive House and Senate races face a deluge of Republican ads focusing on the dubious claim that Democrats have empowered the IRS to hire an army of 87,000 new agents to target the middle class.

Since Aug. 1, Republican candidates and groups have spent more than $12 million on roughly 24,000 airings of ads warning of a massive influx of IRS agents, according to an AdImpact analysis. The spots are targeting vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, as well as toss-up House races from Michigan to Kansas.

But at the heart of the attack ads is an argument the IRS itself says is “inaccurate.” Experts say that the IRS is mainly seeking to replenish its aging workforce and beef up its outdated tech, not hound average Americans.

What the hell, Doc – all these Republican grifters just get to lie their way into office?

– GOPsmacked

Dear Smacked,

That seems to be the general drift of this election cycle. Then again, $12 million is lunch money in the big scheme of this year’s U.S. Senate races, as evidenced by this Katherine Huggins piece at MarketWatch.

Outside spending is pouring into the 2022 Senate races, as Democratic control of the chamber hangs in flux.

Nearly $450 million in outside spending has been spent on Senate races so far this cycle, according to OpenSecrets, a watchdog group that tracks money in politics. Just over 80% of that sum, or about $360 million, went to the 10 races deemed competitive by Cook Political Report.

Lunch money or not, $12 million in lying ads is not nothing, as Punchbowl News points out, especially when it puts falsehoods like these on the public radar screen

Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accused Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) of voting “yes to 87,000 new IRS employees to audit the middle class.”

SLF also assailed Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) for his vote “to hire 87,000 new IRS employees to dig even deeper in middle class pockets.”

None of that is true. Here’s what is true: “The IRS expects up to 50,000 of its current 80,000 employees to retire in the next five years. And despite facing a far broader set of responsibilities, the agency is operating with far fewer employees than it was 30 years ago, when the IRS boasted 117,000 workers.”

So most of the new hires will simply replace the departing staffers. Beyond that, the IRS is about as technologically sophisticated as Donald Trump, so a bunch of the other new hires will be tech geeks, not jack-booted tax auditors.

The GOP’s deceptive campaign ads don’t stop there, though, as Judd Legum reported in his Popular Information newsletter.

One of the challenges of attacking any Democratic incumbent on crime is identifying a basis for the attack. Democrats have controlled Congress for two years and, for better or worse, have not done anything to reform the criminal justice system or reduce the power of law enforcement. Both the Senate and House have passed legislation, the Invest to Protect Act, that would provide tens of millions of additional funding to local police departments.

That didn’t stop Republican candidates and the groups that support them from running 53,000 commercials on crime during the first three weeks of September. Over the same time period, “50 percent of all Republican online ads in battleground states…focused on policing and safety.”

Cue Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, which “is running ads claiming that [Georgia Senator Raphael] Warnock “chose felons over Georgia families.”

As Legum notes, however, the windfall for felons was a bipartisan gift.

The ad claims that Warnock voted “to send almost a billion in COVID relief checks to hundreds of thousands of convicted criminals in prison.” There are similar attack ads currently being run against Democratic Senate candidates in Ohio and Florida. And the NRSC has made the same claim against Democratic Senate candidates in New Hampshire, Arizona, and Nevada.

These ads, however, are extremely deceptive. If Democrats “chose felons” over law-abiding families, so did almost every incumbent Republican Senator and former President Trump.

To top off the general GOP mendacity, we have Amy Gardner’s piece in today’s Washington Post.

A majority of GOP nominees — 299 in all — deny the 2020 election results

Experts say their dominance in the party poses a threat to the country’s democratic principles and jeopardizes the integrity of future votes

A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices — 299 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in four states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined.

The worst part? “Although some are running in heavily Democratic areas and are expected to lose, most of the election deniers nominated are likely to win: Of the nearly 300 on the ballot, 174 are running for safely Republican seats. Another 51 will appear on the ballot in tightly contested races.”

The Post piece also includes a helpful Election Denier Finder.

The 2022 GOP LieAthon: Ask for it by name!

Is Student Loan Forgiveness Really the ‘Rich Kid Bailout’ a GOP Ad Claims?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News, when I came across this item.

The American Action Network, the non-profit aligned with House Republican leadership, is running a new spot calling President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loans a “rich kid bailout.” The spot is running in Denver, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Detroit, D.C., Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Charlotte.

Is that true, Doc – half a trillion taxpayer dollars to make Richie Rich . . . richer? What the hell?

– Loan Wolf

Dear Wolfie,

That’s a legit question, given Lorie Konish’s CNBC report that “the average burden per U.S. taxpayer for the new federal student debt cancellation will be $2,503.22, according to new estimates from the National Taxpayers Union, a fiscally conservative advocacy group.”

Then again, that figure is wildly deceptive, as the CNBC piece itself clearly indicates. First of all, “[the] estimated cost per taxpayer is based on the assumption that policymakers would need to make up for the total tally of the forgiveness through tax increases, spending cuts, borrowing or a combination of those strategies.” Fiscal projections don’t get much vaguer than that.

Beyond that, consider the actual breakdown of who would pay what.

Low-income taxpayers, earning less than $50,000, would have an average additional cost per taxpayer of $190. That would increase to about $1,040 for those with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $75,000; $1,774 for those between $75,000 and $100,000; and $3,791 for incomes of $100,000 to $200,000.

Taxpayers who make between $200,000 and $500,000 would have an average additional cost of $11,940.

Not to mention, the estimated costs would be spread out over ten years.

With those numbers in mind, let’s look at the American Action Network TV spot.

So we have an auto mechanic, a landscaper, and a waitress – all good Americans, the Doc gladly stipulates, and all worthy of our respect.

But . . .

Let’s be generous and assume they all make $100,000 a year. That means they’d pony up $1,774 over ten years, or $177.40 per annum, or 48¢ a day.

So that whole “my family will figure out how to get by with less” kind of boils down to “I can park on Newbury Street for eight fewer minutes every day.”

The White House says that among borrowers who are no longer in school, nearly 90% of the relief will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year. Others dispute that. You can sort it out for yourself here.

But one thing’s for sure: Richie Rich ain’t getting rich off this particular bailout.