The Rural Patriot

October 16, 2006

Deconstructing a Negative Ad

I’ve recently received the mailing from the Kuhl Campaign, “Eric Massa must think money grows on trees”.  As with any negative ad I read or hear, my natural instinct is to (first cringe, because I feel that what I’m reading is distorted)  look beyond the rhetoric and try to find the truth. So, lets take a look.

The first item that strikes me is that Massa is called a “liberal”. He is a Democrat, but did you know that Mr. Massa, until not very long ago, had been a life-long Republican? Noting this, do you believe that his views could be as “liberal” as is trying to be portrayed in this ad? And are you familiar with the definition of the word “liberal”?

lib·er·al (lbr-l, lbrl) adj.
1.
a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
2.
a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
b. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
3. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.
4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.
5.
a. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
b. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
n.
1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
2. Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.

From the above definition, I still have no idea why this particular word has been painted with such a highly-negative connotation. What is so wrong with being free from bigotry, favoring reform, wanting ideas for progress, being tolerant of others, etc.? (And lets leave out the “obsolete morally unrestrained; licentious” definition; we’ve seen recent republican examples of that behavior on display. I’ll leave them out of this post, but if you want them, I’ll supply them. The list is not pretty.)

This negative ad is solely based on a post written by Eric Massa on the blog site, ” MyDD.com.”  I strongly urge you to read this complete post and see what Massa wrote almost one year ago. It is not accurately reflected in the ad from the Kuhl campaign. Here is a segment from that post:

The President has cut $1.3 trillion in taxes, he has never turned down a tax cut; but these tax cuts are not helping us. The working families are not seeing the benefits of having lower taxes, because the funding is not going to the programs that they utilize. The burden is passed down, and the price is paid at the local levels.

If we “stay this course” we will continue to have to cut the programs that have educated our children, put food on our tables, provided for our farmers, kept us healthy through the years, and put roofs over our heads.

Our communities are forced to come up with the necessary money to provide for their localities, and the only way the local governments have been able to accommodate has been raising taxes at the local level. The continual erosion of our tax base as living wage jobs disappear makes the situation worse.

Take notice that the continuation of the explanation of “families are not seeing the benefits…” is what is glaringly missing in this mailing. If the ad were to be honest, it would have said, “He actually suggested Western New York families do not benefit from lower taxes because the burden of funding necessary expenditures has been shifted to the local level, or has been cut or decreased.” The post explains and describes cuts to necessary programs to fund these tax cuts as an “assault on our working families”.

Now, let’s take a look at the sentence, “Rather than letting us keep our money, Massa supports raising taxes by an average of $2000 per family.” What is the source of this statement? From the ad alone, the answer would have to be, “I don’t have a clue, since NO SOURCE is given for this statement”. You may be led to believe that it is from the MyDD Blog post, but it is not. If you have read the post from this site, Kuhl and Massa Media Items, you may remember Elmira station WETM looked into this claim and had this to say regarding the television ad that this mailing is based on:

We had our political expert Dr. Stephen Coleman take a closer look at the ad. The ad cites two different websites where Kuhl got his information that Massa wants to raise taxes. Dr. Coleman says one website is purely a blog and not anything official from Massa. The other is the commerce department website. But Coleman says finding anything on that site is like finding a needle in a haystack. He says the ad needed to give more information on exactly where Kuhl found the information. “He doesn’t want to do that, wants tax reform, Kuhl camp is attributing it to mean Massa wants higher taxes. That interpretation is from the political twilight zone,” said Dr. Stephen Coleman, WETM TV Political Expert.

Now, lets take a look at Mr. Massa’s tax policy. Let’s see how it aligns with Mr. Kuhl’s explanation of Massa’s stand on “Taxes and Money Management”:

My promise to voters: If you send me to Washington, I’ll work to hold down taxes and restore fiscal sanity.

I do not see the phrase, “I want to raise your taxes”. He lists his priorities as: Balanced Budget, PAYGO, Middle-Class Tax Relief, and Hidden Tax Reform (to eliminate the hidden taxes in health, Veterans Tax and Widows Tax, and Toddlers Tax – the $30,000 tax that is now attributed to every child because of the current national debt). I still don’t see where he states the $2000 increase; in fact, it looks like he’s going to try to reduce taxes for disabled veterans, widows of veterans, our children and grandchildren, and middle-class citizens.

Income taxes would raise for SOME families, especially the ultra-wealthy, 1-2% of the population families. How many of those families live in the 29th District? The estate tax, (which republicans describe as the “death tax”), should be repealed. Does Paris Hilton deserve unearned additional wealth and not have to pay her fair share into the system to keep our country running smoothly? I’ve heard the “they’re going to loose the farm” argument to support the repeal of the estate tax. I challenge you to show me the figures that widely supports this claim. (Good luck)

Rep. Kuhl also argues that “higher taxes also mean fewer jobs for working families”. Lets take a look to see just how well these tax cuts have generated jobs:

Sluggish private job growth indicates failure of tax cuts

Changes in tax law since 2001 reduced federal government revenue by $870 billion through September 2005. Supporters of these tax cuts have touted them as great contributors to growth in jobs and pay. But, in reality, private-sector job growth since 2001 has been disappointing, and a closer look at the new jobs created shows that federal spending—not tax cuts—are responsible for the jobs created in the past five years.

If tax cuts have created jobs at all since 2001, it will have happened in the private sector. Assuming that job growth in 2006 matches the Bush Administration’s projections, the economy will have added about 2.0 million jobs to the private sector from FY2001 through FY2006. But how many of these two million jobs actually can be attributed to tax cuts and how many to increased government spending—particularly increased defense spending—in this period?

Based on Defense Department estimates of the number of private-sector jobs created by its own spending, we project that additional defense spending will account for a 1.495 million gain in private sector jobs between FY2001 and FY2006. Furthermore, increases in non-defense discretionary spending since 2001 will have added yet another 1.325 million jobs in the private sector, for a total of 2.82 million jobs created by increased government spending. Increased mandatory government spending—which is not even included in these estimates or the accompanying chart—would account for even more job creation. The mere fact that the projected job growth resulting from increased defense and other government spending exceeds the actual number of jobs projected to be added to the economy through 2006 clearly indicates that the tax cuts hardly seem plausible as the engine of the modest job growth in the economy since 2001. (author’s analysis of CRS, Defense Department, and OMB data. Emphasis mine)

Along these same lines, the article, “Bush’s tax-cut policies put economy in the tank” is worth your time:

The results are crystal clear. Bush’s performance is the worst for job creation in the first two years of an economic recovery and second from last in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, as compared with the eight earlier postwar recoveries from recession.

No president in the past 60 years, save George Herbert Walker Bush, has failed so miserably in his economic performance. But to see how bad President Bush’s economic policies have been, we must work through the numbers. It’s worth the effort.

(Yes, it is worth the effort – go and read this article.)

Let’s look at the Bush Administration policy on capital gains and dividends, and how it benefits the middle and working classes vs. the upper class:

In the wake of the Bush tax cuts, long-term capital gains tax rates are now between 5 percent and 15 percent. The rates are ostensibly progressive: People in or below the 15 percent personal income tax bracket (which applies to married couples making $60,000 a year) get the lower capital gains rate. But that benefit is a pittance compared with the benefit wealthy people get from having their capital gains and dividends taxed at a rate of just 15 percent.
(snip)
Rather than encourage capital ownership among the middle and working classes, the Bush administration’s dividend tax rate cuts for high-income people have further skewed the incentives in the wrong direction.
(snip)
In the current order of things, the well-off are benefiting from higher wage growth and higher capital income growth than everyone else. On top of that, they’ve been enjoying a third helping of dessert in the form of preferential tax incentives that have been much more generous to them than to the middle and working classes.

Finally, lets look at his claim that he “is not driven by partisan politics. He is an independent leader who works across partisan kines to get results for Western New York and the Southern Tier.” First, I want to direct you back to this post from the site where we review his voting record on important issues. Next, go and look at the Washington Post’s Congressional Votes Database for Rep. Kuhl’s votes. Just glance through the last three columns: Position, GOP opinion, and DEM opinion and judge for yourself if he is voting with the party line, or if he is an “independent”. The numbers speak for themselves. Supporting your party’s positions is common for members of each party; however, I’ll respect you more if you don’t try to hide the fact that you align your beliefs and votes along your party’s lines.

This ad is extremely misleading, disingenuous, and dishonest. I feel as though I am being lied to, and I for one don’t appreciate it. Are the constituents in this district viewed as being stupid or just too busy to find out the truth? I feel that these sentiments are what is being used to play upon and sway your opinion.

What I can say, however, is that I’m already tired of hearing not only locally, but also nationally, the common theme that , “if democrats are elected, they are going to raise your taxes.” It is being used right along with the theme that “republicans are the only ones who will keep you safe”. Death and taxes, death and taxes, death and taxes. Be afraid, be afraid, be afraid. What else is being offered? Not much. Time to wake up and realize that first, just as in your own personal finances, you must pay for what you are buying. The bill will be due one day, with interest. Was the “purchase” worth the cost? Second, I cannot and will not believe that any party, either republicans or democrats, don’t have a strong goal in “keeping America safe”. I don’t, and won’t, listen to any argument against democrats along those lines. It’s beyond ridiculous and plays into the fear card of those who buy into this argument. My goodness, do you even possibly believe that democratic leadership WANTS this country to be attacked again? It is a unbelievable claim.

Do not permit yourself to be fooled by these glossy advertisements you’ve been receiving. You are smarter than that.

It is your responsibility to cast an informed vote. November 7 is three weeks from tomorrow.

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5 Comments »

  1. Kuhl’s Mailer

    The Rural Patriot has posted a thorough analysis of a Kuhl mailer. The theme, like his recent ad campaign, is taxes. The tagline is Eric Massa must think money grows on trees. Along with Massa’s recent hide-and-seek ad, which featured

    Trackback by The Fighting 29th — October 16, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  2. Great analysis, and thanks for the link to the MyDD site. Kathy

    Comment by Kathy Bambrick — October 16, 2006 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  3. The Republicans have worn out the terms liberal and conservative. They no longer mean anything. The so called conservatives are spending money like it grew on trees especially at the Federal level. Their handouts go instead to corporations rather than the taxpayers who are paying the bills. The word conservative has become a code word for intolerance of all sorts. The Republicans are a minority party and cannot rule unless they split the electorate into factions. They manage to do this successfully most of the time by exploiting abortion, gay marriage and flag burning to name but a few of their divisive issues. I almost welcome some movement on abortion law as it would remove one of their fractious issues. They deliberately pander to so called Christian conservatives who seem not Christian at all. The National Republicans seem to be the logical outgrowth of the Dixiecrats. Today’s conservatives have raised xenophobia to an art form. They embrace racism, sexism and other forms of intolerance but are very careful to couch their language in such a way that it makes it very difficult to really tag them. Every once in awhile a guy like Trent Lott comes out and says something and he gets pummelled for exposing what they really believe.

    Attacking Eric Massa as a tax and spend liberal is absolutely ridiculous. We’ll just have to see if folks buy into this or if they’re wiseing up.

    Comment by countrycontemplative — October 16, 2006 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

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