Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies began a new round of advertising Thursday against Sen. Claire McCaskill, attacking her votes on Medicare and tax cuts.
How accurate is it?
First some background: Founded with assistance from Republican political guru Karl Rove, Crossroads GPS is set up under the IRS as an independent advocacy group whose purpose is “social welfare,” not politics. As such, it can keep the names of its donors secret.
Together, Crossroads GPS and the Super PAC, American Crossroads, reportedly could spend $240 million or more this year to advance their interests and preferred candidates. The anti-McCaskill ad will run for two weeks at a cost of $300,000, according to the group.
The new ad claims that the Missouri Democrat, who is running for re-election this year, “voted to cut Medicare spending half a trillion dollars by supporting ObamaCare…”
This has been a ubiquitous Republican attack line and popular talking point used against any number of Democrats who voted for the health care law. GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney has leveled it at President Obama, as well
The claim has been debunked numerous times, but Republicans and their allies continue to use it, despite the clear distortions. Independent political watchdogs have grown weary over how many times they have had to keep explaining the fiction.
"Sometimes talking points are just so good that no matter how many times we point out they’re wrong, politicians keep using them again and again and again, broken-record style," Politifact.com said in an analysis of a similar ad last fall.
The nonpartisan, political research website said that the Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed in 2010, “does reduce Medicare spending by $500 billion over the next 10 years. But here’s the catch: Those dollars aren’t taken out of the current budget, they are not actual cuts, and nowhere does the bill actually eliminate any current benefits."
Assessing one particular ad campaign against a Florida Democrat, which relied on the alleged $500 billion in Medicare cuts, Politifact concluded that the statement was “barely true.”
Moreover, the $500 billion in savings comes from health care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, according to The Fact Checker, a regular microscope on political rhetoric in The Washington Post.
But apparently Republicans were for the $500 billion in savings before they were against it.
The Fact Checker noted that they championed a budget a year ago offered by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that included “all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.”
And McCaskill’s would-be Republican replacements as well.
Rep. Todd Akin, one of three Republicans running for her seat, voted for the Ryan plan. Another, St. Louis businessman John Brunner, has said the Ryan plan was a “fantastic step in the right direction.” The third, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, has said, “I would love to be able to vote for the Ryan plan.”
The Crossroads GPS ad also takes McCaskill to task for voting against “extending tax cuts, including the child tax credit, death tax and marriage penalty.” It cited her votes over the past few years opposing various Republican amendments to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush and which included those measures.
McCaskill has also voted repeatedly over that same period for Democratic amendments and Senate budget resolutions that would expand child tax credits, lower real estate taxes and eliminate the marriage penalty.
The Bush tax cuts were due to expire at the end of 2010. The president and Congress cut a deal to extend them through 2012.