Monday, November 05, 2018

FactCheck Monday: Both parties mislead in closing TV ads on health care, taxes and ICE, to name just three issues

Here's the last installment of a pre-Election Day series listing some of the most relevant items from and other nonpartisan fact checkers. We encourage you to subscribe to their alerts, which you can do here, and republish their findings, which FactCheck lets anyone do for free with credit to them. Since elections are tomorrow, we focus on final-week ads. First up, the Democrats:

"In the past week, many Democratic ads across the country have focused on health care and taxes, campaign-long themes for the party’s candidates. Some of the ads have used familiar, and misleading, talking points," Lori Robertson reports for FactCheck. 

One ad claims that Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., "voted to essentially end Medicare." That's inaccurate, because it refers to a Republican budget resolution that would change the way Medicare operates, but not end it. The ad also says McSally voted to "gut protections for preexisting conditions" because of her votes for repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and a Republican replacement. Repealing the ACA would repeal broad protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and the Republican replacements would have weakened those protections. But "if the ACA’s protections were to be eliminated or repealed, there would still be some previously existing protections for those with employer plans, who couldn’t be denied coverage or charged more based on health status under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act," Robertson reports. "Before the ACA, those with employer plans could face coverage exclusions, however, if they had a gap in insurance coverage."

Several Democratic ads in House races across the country claim that the 2017 Republican tax law awards 83 percent of benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent of citizens. "That’s only the case for 2027, because most of the individual income tax changes in the law expire by then," Robertson reports. "Republicans say a future Congress will extend the tax cuts. In 2025, a quarter of the tax cuts go to the top 1 percent."

"In the final days of the 2018 election, Republicans across the country are running TV ads about immigration that falsely accuse some Democrats of wanting 'open borders,' plotting to 'abolish ICE,' supporting 'sanctuary cities' and more. The ads contain evocative images of tattooed gang members and 'caravans' of Central Americans traveling through Mexico in search of asylum," Eugene Kiely, D'Angelo Gore, and Robert Farley report for FactCheck. An ad database shows that 162 TV ads in the past week have contained anti-immigration messages. 

Here's an example: In Arkansas, Rep. French Hill has run an ad against Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker saying that MS-13 is "the most dangerous gang infiltrating America, but Washington liberals want to get rid of ICE, the police enforcing our immigration laws and protecting our border from MS-13." The ad flashes pictures of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when the announcer says "Washington liberals," though neither support abolishing ICE. The ad also says Tucker attended an "anti-ICE" rally and won't take a position on abolishing ICE, and plays a quote of him saying "I don't know what it is," FactCheck reports.

On his website, Tucker says, "I support ICE and our Homeland Security agencies in carrying out the mission to keep our borders safe and strong, while increasing accountability and transparency in our immigration enforcement through common-sense strategic investments." So where do the ad's claims come from? Tucker did not attend an anti-ICE rally; the clip used in the ad is from when he attended a rally for "Families Belong Together," which opposes family separation without guarantee of reunification and advocates for due process for refugees seeking asylum. In the clip, a Republican asked Tucker if he supported New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's position on ICE. A few days before, Gillibrand said she believed ICE should be abolished. Tucker said he wasn't familiar with her position on ICE, saying "I have not had a chance to look at that . . . I don't know what it is, so --"

"Since then, Tucker has given it thought and has taken a position — but the TV ad ignores that. So does another ad by the Republican Majority Fund, which is a PAC affiliated with Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas," reports. Tucker says he supports protecting undocumented immigrants from ICE only when they're seeking emergency health care or reporting a crime. Such a stance doesn't condone shielding MS-13 gang members from ICE.

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