Fact Squad | Junge ad hits Slotkin on immigrants, taxes, omits a few details

One week before the election, Republican Paul Junge is airing an ad that ties first-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Slotkin, D-Holly, in 2018 flipped the 8th Congressional District that represents Livingston, Ingham and northern Oakland County and had been controlled by Republicans since 2000.  

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Slotkin, a former CIA analyst, has a reputation as a centrist Democrat, but Junge labels her as “liberal” in a 30-second ad, “Put America First,” pointing to support for a stimulus package that would help undocumented immigrants and a tax increase.

The ad accurately reflects Slotkin’s stance on two divisive issues, but lacks crucial context and falsely suggests that her support for legislation delayed COVID relief.

The Claims

The ad claims Slotkin “played politics” when COVID-19 struck and “voted for Nancy Pelosi's plan that diverted COVID relief money to illegal immigrants and prisoner release.”

It also claims Slotkin is “pushing a 20 percent payroll tax increase on Michigan.”

“Slotkin: Pelosi first. Paul Junge puts you first,” the ad states.

Facts

The ad centers on two issues: Slotkin’s vote for a second wave of stimulus funds, the HEROES Act, and her co-sponsorship of a bill to prevent the Social Security fund from going insolvent, the Social Security 2100 Act.

The ad from Junge, a former news anchor and appointee of President Donald Trump, begins by saying Michigan “needed help and needed it fast” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It doesn’t mention that Slotkin voted for the first round of stimulus, the CARES Act, that paid an average of $1,800

The ad focuses instead on her vote May 15 for the HEROES Act, a  $3 trillion spending package that included an additional $1,200 stimulus checks, reinstatement of $600 weekly unemployment benefits and $110 billion to schools.

It’s true the Democratic-sponsored act would have allowed medically vulnerable prisoners to request a federal court to adjust their sentencing and given undocumented immigrants access to stimulus funds they couldn’t receive through the CARES Act. 

The Republican-controlled Senate did not pass the bill, and the talks about a second stimulus are stalled. 

Slotkin said she considered voting against the measure because she disagreed with some portions of it and would have preferred a “more bipartisan bill.”

“I voted yes because, on net, this bill provides important money for local governments, for individuals, and for basic services we all depend on,” Slotkin said at the time of the vote. 

As for the payroll taxes, the Social Security Act that was co-sponsored by Slotkin and some 200 other Democrats would have increased tax withholdings from 6.2 percent to 7.4 percent from 2020 to 2043.

It’s true that’s a gradual 20 percent increase, as the ad states. 

The ad never mentions Social Security, however, and could give readers the impression that Slotkin wants to raise all payroll taxes, which also include those on federal income and for Medicare and unemployment.

“Slotkin has consistently put party over country, voting with Nancy Pelosi every single time on the passage of legislation,” Junge campaign spokesperson Robert Wagener told Bridge Michigan.

Slotkin and Pelosi voted the same way on 96 percent of bills this term, 76 of 79, according to voting records. That’s fairly typical among Democrats.

Conclusion

Both of the major claims in the ad are based on indisputable facts. 

But the ad omits key details to give the impression that Slotkin played politics instead of helping Michigan during the COVID-19 crisis, when she twice voted for stimulus measures.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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