Misleading Super PAC Ad Attacks ATR Pledge; Iowa TV Station Fact-Checker Falls for Ad's Claims

August 7th, 2014 6:35 PM

Erroneous attacks against the American for Tax Reform’s (ATR) Taxpayer Protection Pledge are nothing new. Liberal Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer is funding the latest spate of misleading TV ads through his super PAC. The ad  wrongfully attacks Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst for signing the Pledge, claiming that the pledge protects tax credits for companies that send jobs overseas. Unfortunately for Iowa voters of all parties, Cedar Rapids TV station KCRG has bought the misleading ad hook, line, and sinker, claiming: “There’s at least one example of [ATR] pledge signers being pressured to oppose legislation that restricted tax breaks for multinational companies. We score this claim mostly true.” 

Unfortunately striking back at such the inaccuracies is like a game of whack-a-mole. No matter how many times you hit it, it keeps on coming back up again.  Errors similar to this one have been debunked by fact-checking organizations and news agencies like the Associated Press time and again. It’s absurd to say this part of the ad is even remotely true.

This specific fallacy goes all the back to atleast 2010, when it was whacked down by an Associated Press story: ADWATCH: With campaign ads, don't trust, verify. According to the AP, the pledge:

says nothing about jobs. It's a pledge to oppose tax increases. Democrats have tried to end tax breaks used by companies that ship jobs overseas, and Republicans have opposed that. The pledge, however, simply says the candidate will oppose increases in income tax rates and oppose cutting deductions or credits unless matched dollar-for-dollar by lower rates. 

Indeed, ATR spokesman John Kartch was quoted in the same AP article saying that yes “it would be possible to end tax breaks for overseas companies while honoring the pledge, by substituting a tax reduction of equal value elsewhere in the tax code.” 

But of course this hardly comes close to the pledge promoting companies which shift jobs overseas.

ATR asserts this claim is “blatantly false” and a 2010 Fact Check blog agrees.  The pledge only protects corporations from an increase in its overall tax burden. It explicitly allows elimination of any specific tax deduction or credit if matched dollar-for-dollar by an overall cut in rates. And it says nothing about jobs.

To claim that this "protects" any particular provision of the tax code is simply untrue. Any tax benefit can be eliminated and offset by a rate cut or by other benefits without raising taxes overall, and without violating the terms of that pledge. 

FactCheck.org has been knocking down this claim since April, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ran a TV ad against a Republican House candidate in Hawaii. They recently debunked the same claim in an ad in the Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. 

And now most significantly the false claim in the Steyer Super PAC ad about the pledge shipping jobs overseas has been knocked down in the past couple days by a blog at PolitiFact. 

As long as media outlets like KCRG have a liberal bent, they will always tend to back us dubious claims about such things as the ATR pledge. It’s a lot easier than telling the whole truth.