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Friday, August 3, 2012 at 6:47 am

FACT CHECK: Hochul camp disputes Collins tax policy

post by Mark Brudz in chris collins, kathy hochul, NY 27

A press release from Kathy Hochul's office, dated 1 Aug., had this headline:

"HOCHUL CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO CHRIS COLLINS’ PUSH FOR MORE DEFICIT-RAISING TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES"

Hochul's Campaign Manager Francis Thomas cites a report issued by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities [CBPP] stating:

"Economists say that cutting taxes for the richest Americans would raise the deficit by “nearly $1 trillion” and give the most benefits to people making more than $1 million per year."

Thomas goes on to cite a [CBPP] article dated 7/19/2012 that poses the proposition that maintaining the Bush Tax Cuts for those in the upper 2 percent would, in fact, add deficits of more than $1 trillion to the 2013 budget.

"According to the nonpartisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),
just 2.5 percent of small business owners face top tax rates. In a July 2012 study, they wrote 'allowing the top two marginal tax rates to return to pre-2001 levels as scheduled next year would affect very few small businesses, a recent Treasury Department study found. The study shows that only 2.5 percent of small business owners face the top two rates.' ” [CBPP 7/19/2012]

Although the CBPP does, in fact, claim to be "nonpartisan" on its Web site, further reading clearly disputes this claim. On the page titled "Experts" on the CBPP Web site, my research shows that all but one of those listed on the page have held positions with the Democrat Party. Of the 46 names listed in various positions, not one has held a position in the GOP or any other conservative or moderate think tank of a similar nature. Below are four examples selected from the Federal Fiscal Policy Section.

Jared Bernstein (Senior Fellow) is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden in the Obama Administration. Bernstein is considered to represent a progressive, pro-labor perspective.

Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Policy Advisor) was involved with Amnesty International USA, as a member of its Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisory Group and in other volunteer positions. After graduating from the University of Chicago in June 2005, Dutta-Gupta came to D.C. to work with a nonprofit Democratic consulting firm on political campaigns, food and hunger, international development, energy and national security issues. While in college, he interned at the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL).

James R. Horney (Vice President for Federal Fiscal Policy) was a deputy Democratic staff director at the Senate Budget Committee from 2001 through 2004.

Chuck Marr is the director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He served as economic policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Further, the report cited by Thomas has come under fire from nonpartisan and conservative tax policy organizations like the TaxFoundation and the Heritage Foundation.

"While we applaud the CBPP's obvious success at bringing attention to the budget, it paints an incomplete picture to place only certain budget items in a graph of the deficit, as if that demonstrates causality. Why not throw entitlement spending in the deficit category, or defense spending, or certain initiatives from the Clinton years? Better yet, why not simply show the entire budget, and in a larger historical context?

"Indeed, the CBO report on which the CBPP analysis is based does just that. A closer look at the CBO report will help illustrate the relative importance of tax cuts and spending (including spending through the tax code) in creating the projected deficits." The Budget Debate, taxfoundation.org

Clearly the issue is not so black and white.

Complete Hochul press release after the jump (click on the headline to read more).

Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:42 am

Fact Check: Hochul and Collins spar over health care in fact-challenged statements

post by Mark Brudz in chris collins, kathy hochul, NY 27

In an email released by Kathy Hochul's staff Wednesday, her Campaign Manager Francis Thomas took opponent Chris Collins to task over the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (RNCC) claims that Hochul's support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a talking point in this year’s race.

It is absolutely clear that Mr. Collins’ tact so far has been to attempt to paint Hochul as a champion for all Obama policies. Almost every press release, tweet and statement generated by the Collins’ Camp contains a reference to a Hochul-Obama connection.

What Chris fails to mention is that Kathy has sided with the Republicans in three key votes that, if also passed in the Senate, would repeal elements of the ACA. Mrs. Hochul was one of only seven Democrats who joined Republicans in repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

She also voted along with the GOP to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program.

Finally, Mrs. Hochul, along with 36 other Democrats voted for the Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices.

Consider also, that Hochul did not even hold office when the ACA was enacted and on several occasions has stated that she would have had problems voting for the ACA if it were presented as passed.

Yet, Collins is not alone in attempting to keep this race in true talking point hyperbole form.

In his press release styled email, Hochul campaign manager Thomas pulled out the tried and true quote, and often used by Kathy referring to the Paul Ryan Medicare Plan:

“.....Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay $6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires."

This approach was used to defeat Jane Corwin and Jack Davis in 2011’s special election with great success, unfortunately, this line was also dubbed as “One of the Whoppers of the Year” by factcheck.org then and it is under even more scrutiny now.

First of all, if implemented, those 55 at the time and older would not at all be affected at all by the Ryan Medicare Plan; they would receive Medicare benefits as currently prescribed by law.

As for the $6,400 figure, yes it is accurate when you do the simple math however, it leaves out distinct caveats that offset that number.

Finally, the next iteration of the Ryan Plan is similar to the first, and the new version is due to be brought to the floor after the November election. Among its contributors is the very liberal, and lifelong champion of senior issues, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. This iteration by all definitions is bipartisan.

For each talking point by either candidate, a fact-based argument can be used as a counter. For each statement issued by the candidates or by their supporters and staff, there will no doubt be a combination of truth, spin and/or vetted talking point.

Issues on the other hand, are often complex. When you analyze the facts there is plenty of room for debate.

The complete statement from the Hochul campaign:

Chris Collins is clearly afraid to run against Kathy Hochul's Independent record of fighting for Western New York, and now he and his allies are launching a desperate attempt to make this race about Barack Obama. Kathy has repeatedly crossed party lines to repeal the most troubling portions of the health care bill, while protecting Those provisions that protect our seniors, our young people, and those with preexisting conditions.

Instead of misrepresenting Kathy's record, Mr. Collins and his allies should explain to voters why he supports plans to force seniors to pay
$6,400 more for their Medicare and use that money to give tax breaks to millionaires.

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

When it comes to keeping quotes in context, Collins should heed his own advice to Hochul

post by Mark Brudz in Barack Obama, chris collins, kathy hochul, NY-27

Publisher's Note: A few weeks ago, Mark Brudz discussed the idea of regularly fact checking the candidates for the NY-27 Congressional District, much like a site like factcheck.org does on a national level. We believe this is the first such post with more to come in this campaign. We hope to encourage both candidates to run more honest and truthful campaigns than is usually seen in this highly partisan era.

If Mr. Collins is going to cry foul for Mrs. Hochul cherry-picking his words and not keeping them in full context, he should also hold himself to the same standard.

A Collins For Congress email sent Saturday afternoon used a statement by President Obama to attack Hochul.

Obama: "If you got a business, you didn't build it. Somebody else made that happen."

The email then went on with the subtitle: "Kathy Hochul's Presidential Candidate Slams Small Businesses."

Yes, the president did in fact say that, however, it was taken out of context in a excerpt from a campaign rally speech in Roanoke, Va., on Friday July 13. The Collins team included in their email a quote from the Washington Times article written by Walter Cooler.

"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."

The president's entire statement however, was not exactly a slam toward small business. In full context, the president more specifically expressed his belief in infrastructure and that successful business people rely on that infrastructure to grow their business. Additionally, President Obama stated that successful business people have achieved but also relied upon teachers and mentors to reach their goals.

All in all, there was much fodder for Mr. Collins with the statement in full context because it becomes more of philosophical discussion where Chris Collins actually can make some issue-based arguments.

It is no different than the flap earlier this month between Collins and Kathy Hochul. (See The Batavian; NY-27 race shaping up as a war over words.)  Hochul jumped on a Collins statement that he made in answer to a question during an interview for The Batavian. Clearly Mrs. Hochul took Mr. Collins out of context in order to obtain the upper hand when there was plenty in that interview that she could have taken issue with in full context.

What we need from both Collins and Hochul at this point is more statement of what they intend to do in Congress and less of the carefully choreographed talking points that are typical in today's politicians.

This is President Obama's statement in full context:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires; we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”

It would be very appropriate for Chris Collins to take the president to task on the entire statement in context, likewise it would also be appropriate for him to question Mrs. Hochul's position on this statement, should she actually have made one. In Chris Collins email, there were several bullet points where he did in fact state his strengths and there was a legitamate question posed as to Mrs. Hochul's private sector business knowledge and experience.

I say let them both go at it from that point and may the best candidate win. But spare us the talking points and the he said/she said game this time around. If you want my vote, spell out your agenda and let me decide.

After the jump, the complete press release from the campaign of Chris Collins (click on the headline to read more):

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