How we make the call
A false statement about a candidate’s position or a fact involving policy. It’s one thing to point out differences between records. It’s another for a candidate or third-party group to present false information or inaccurately portray a candidate’s political record.
A statement that distorts a candidate’s record or a fact involving policy, or which omits a fact that is essential to understanding a candidate’s position.
A statement that may be generally truthful, but lacks context and could easily mislead or be misconstrued.
A statement, however strident, that is based on accurate facts.
|Who:||Terri Lynn Land for Senate|
|What:||Web ad, “The Job Killers”|
|The call:||Regular Foul|
Relevant text of the ad:
“Peters supported carbon taxes that would have hiked utility bills, raised gas prices by 20 cents a gallon and killed up to 96,000 Michigan jobs. It was called the largest tax increase in American history, and Gary Peters voted for it. …. Peters … is bankrolled by billionaire radical Tom Steyer. Peters also supports Steyer’s call to kill the Keystone Pipeline.”
The one-minute Web ad focuses on differences in energy policy positions between U.S. Senate candidates Terri Lynn Land, a Republican and former secretary of state, and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat. It also targets Peters’ campaign support from wealthy philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
Statements under review:
“Peters supported carbon taxes that would have hiked utility bills, raised gas prices by 20 cents a gallon and killed up to 96,000 Michigan jobs.”
Those figures are based on a National Association of Manufacturers report.
The report makes the case for a negative economic impact of a carbon tax. The report states that a carbon tax, if implemented in 2013 (it wasn’t), could have had led to a “loss of worker income” in Michigan equivalent to 75,000 to 96,000 jobs by 2023. While the economic impact may be similar, it’s not the same as 96,000 jobs actually being lost.
More relevant, the report measures the impact of a hypothetical carbon tax that Peters has no record of supporting. Peters did vote in 2009 in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which proposed a cap-and-trade emissions policy for industry.
A cap-and-trade policy focuses on lowering emissions; a carbon tax focuses on making carbon-based energy more expensive.
Land campaign spokesperson Heather Swift says the ad’s contention that Peters supports a carbon tax is based on Peters voting against an amendment this year to deem a carbon tax a “major rule” that would require Congressional approval to be implemented. House Republicans voted 225-0 for the amendment; Democrats voted 176-12 against.
A vote against Congressional control of carbon tax implementation is not the same as supporting a carbon tax, though the Land campaign cited to Truth Squad several articles written at the time of the vote that referred to Democrats voting against a “carbon tax.”
A cap-and-trade policy might also slow job growth, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Energy Information Administration, with projections varying wildly depending on economic assumptions.
“It was called the largest tax increase in American history, and Gary Peters voted for it.”
The American Clean Energy and Security Act, which Peters voted for but which did not become law, was labeled as “likely to be the biggest tax in American history” in a 2009 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
“Peters … is bankrolled by billionaire radical Tom Steyer. Peters also supports Steyer’s call to kill the Keystone Pipeline.”
The ad cites a New York Times article that chronicles Steyer’s contribution of $100 million to the Senate Majority PAC that supports the election of Democrats to the Senate. The Senate Majority PAC has aired several ads in support of Peters.
The ad also cites a Weekly Standard article that claims Steyer is “bankrolling Senate candidate Gary Peters.” So far, Peters and his political action campaign haven’t receive any money directly from Steyer or Steyer’s Super PACS.
The two campaigns differ on the impact of the Keystone Pipeline, but it’s clear that Peters is an outspoken opponent of the pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada through the United States to the Gulf Coast.
|The call:||Regular Foul|
Peters’ campaign is being aided at least indirectly by cash from billionaire Steyer, just as Land’s campaign has benefitted from ads aired by Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch. Peters is an opponent of the Keystone Pipeline. Peters voted for a cap-and-trade policy that, if implemented, may have slowed job growth. But instead of focusing on cap-and-trade, the ad claims Peters supports a carbon tax and cites a study that links a carbon tax to the loss of 96,000 Michigan jobs. Linking Peters to support of a carbon tax is a misrepresentation of Peters’ record.