We’re less than a week away from seeing election results, but the ads keep on coming. Assuming there might be someone still undecided out there it seemed worthwhile to look at some of the claims and see how much truth we can find. Some of the claims are in new ads. Some are classics.
First, a couple pieces of advice.
- 1. Question any ad that makes a conclusion based on one piece of legislation.
- 2. Question any ad that makes a claim based on one part of a single piece of legislation.
- 3. Question any ad by a politician or group characterizing the opposition’s views.
- 4. Know that many of the details in campaign ads are true, but they don’t necessarily tell a true story.
- 5. Assume every single campaign advertisement could be lying to you.
CLAIM: “SHAMEFUL: Schlicher Takes Advantage of Senator’s
Choice to Breastfeed”
THE STORY: There is a true story here that doesn’t make Democrats look good even under the most flattering lights. Party leaders deny the worst accusations about the incident, and how much Schlicher was to blame for it is a bigger question. This ad comes from the state Republican Party. The Good Government Coalition also funded a similar ad. I refer you to Washington State Wire and Crosscut stories that discuss the incident. The short version is that a Republican senator who regularly took breaks to nurse her baby was excused from the floor. On one occasion Democrats took advantage of her absence to push a Schlicher-sponsored bill dealing with administrative costs for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to a vote. The bill had the support of 11 of 12 senators in committee. The ad says Schlicher “helped lead an effort by his party for a power play.” It was his bill, sure. He certainly would have benefited politically had it passed. And the Democrats issued a press release after the incident in which Schlicher was quoted. But another Democrat, Seattle’s David Frockt, was the one blamed for pushing the vote. He and other Democrats said they didn’t know the absent senator was off breastfeeding. If you’re skeptical of that, I can’t blame you.
CLAIM: Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for deceased
multi-millionaires over education for our kids.
THE STORY: Angel is a “no new taxes” enthusiast, which gives an organization like She’s Changed PAC, the advertiser here, ample fodder to make statements like Angel likes (insert bad thing here) more than (insert good thing here). Angel’s side employs the same technique. Angel is unlikely to vote for any new tax on the belief that the state can fund its priorities with existing revenues. In this case Angel was opposed to the Legislature’s decision to change state law in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that would have forced the state to refund $160 million in estate taxes to people who can legitimately be called multi-millionaires. The money the state held onto did go to education, so there’s the link between rich people and our kids. The problem is that Angel might be right that the state could eventually have to pay back this money. The Legislature essentially clarified the intent of an older law and applied that clarification retroactively.
CLAIM: Representative Jan Angel chose tax loopholes for
Big Oil companies over our kids’ schools.
THE STORY: This is essentially a new version of the anti-Angel claim above. She’s hawkish on taxes, and considers closing loopholes a new tax. The argument on a She’s Changed PAC flyer makes a lucid and issue-driven argument against Angel’s position on tax loopholes for oil, except for where it definitively links that position with schools. Again, Angel says “Fund education first,” then fund everything else, so she could be for that money, but not when it comes from that tax. Most either/or arguments like this are “either” misleading “or” false. Fund education first, she says, satisfies the state constitution. Schlicher counters that there are other funding mandates required under the constitution, too, so Angel’s suggestion for a funding formula puts other constitutionally mandated programs at risk.
CLAIM: Schlicher opposes the voter-approved 2/3rds
majority to raise taxes.
THE STORY: People for Jobs, Enterprise Washington uses an email Schlicher sent to a constituent. At least most of the ads get it right that Schlicher thinks the Supreme Court was right to overturn the voter initiative, but they leave out the rest of his position. Here’s the quote from a letter he wrote to Kelly Haughton: “While I do agree with the court decision that the initiative was unconstitutional, the message was clear: taxes should not be the default solution of the government in times of fiscal crisis. I support the will of the people to consider a constitutional amendment on the issue and will vote for a reasonable version of an amendment.” Where Republicans can take bigger issue is that he doesn’t think corporate tax loopholes that don’t provide a benefit to the state (And that is the reason to establish a loophole.) should be subject to the 2/3 standard.
CLAIM: “Nathan Schlicher voted against a bill for early
intervention to help all students read by the 4th grade, instead
favoring the special interests of a campaign contributor.”
THE STORY: This references Senate Bill 5946, which in part addressed reading skills for third graders. The original version of the bill had no funding provided to local districts, yet directed districts what they were to do. In other places that’s called an “unfunded mandate.” One of the solutions suggested for kids in third grade was discussing whether the student should stay in third grade. Schlicher argued that keeping kids in third grade would be the default solution, because the bill provided no money for anything else. The bill passed by four votes in the Senate, went to the House and came back to the Senate. The final bill had funding. Schlicher voted for that version, which passed the Senate in a 46-2 vote.
CLAIM: “When insurance companies wanted to eliminate
basic care like mammograms and maternity care, Jan Angel sponsored
House Bill 1804 that would cut our benefits.”
THE STORY: We’ve addressed this one before, but it keeps coming up in part because Angel has expressed so much outrage over the claim, citing her own personal history of having one third of her breast removed. The Seattle Times ruled that a TV commercial saying Angel “led efforts to eliminate coverage for mammograms,” was “Mostly false.” The Times was right on that ad. But wait, there is more. Angel co-sponsored a bill that would have removed all state mandates on insurance coverage, conditions and services government requires insurance companies to cover. The bill would have exchanged state rules for the mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Had the bill passed, mammogram coverage would have still been required, but only for women 40 and above and not for immigrants. Some women would have lost coverage under the bill. Men get breast cancer, too. The state requires coverage for their mammograms and the ACA does not. Additionally, Angel has stated she is against the Affordable Care Act, even though her voting record is mixed on funding state implementation of the federal law, according to the (Tacoma) News Tribune. So, Angel is against the Affordable Care Act, yet she voted to remove state mandates in favor of ACA rules. This becomes a question of whether Angel supports any government mandates about health insurance. In a campaign questionnaire she wrote that she favored a free market, “menu driven/choice plan.” So if she had her way and insurers got to offer the plans they wanted, would they all stop covering mammograms? In theory they could, but insurance companies wouldn’t stay in business if they didn’t cover anything. Is Angel absolute about her thoughts on insurance companies? I’ve asked and I can’t get an answer. I tried to ask her after the Oct. 3 forum in Gig Harbor if the state mandate bill had passed and Obamacare went away, would she want government somewhere to require insurance companies to cover mammograms? She said she couldn’t answer a hypothetical question. I’ve forwarded a similar question, “Should any government tell insurance companies what they have to cover?” and have received no answer. So, yes, details in this claim are wrong, but until Angel definitively says she is for or against mandates I have a hard time raising the finish flag on the issue.
Cheer up. There’s only one more week of this. It will be months before it all starts again. In these final few days if you’ve seen any other claims you question, let us know and we’ll see if we can dig into it.