How we make the call
Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:
|Who:||Terri Lynn Land for Senate|
|What:||"War on Michigan," 30-second ad|
Last week, Truth Squad ruled no foul on an ad by Terri Lynn Land for Senate. Upon further review, we have changed our call to “foul,” based on the ad’s inaccurate claim of fewer jobs. See revised Truth Squad analysis below.
Relevant text of the ad:
“Because of Obamacare, full-time jobs are becoming part-time jobs. Because of Washington’s big bureaucracy, red tape regulation, we have fewer jobs. I'll downsize big government, cut the red tape so Michiganders can create, invest, hire and grow again. We can expand opportunities for everyone here in Michigan. Let's stop the games and get things done.”
Ad wars rage on in the high-spending, high-profile race for U.S. Senate between former GOP Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters. The race is among several that national analysts believe could determine control of the U.S. Senate in 2014. With spending approaching $10 million, some analysts believe it could hit $50 million by election day. In this 30-second TV ad, Land speaks directly to the camera and says the Affordable Care Act and big government amount to economic war on Michigan.
Statements under review:
“Because of Obamacare, full-time jobs are becoming part-time jobs.”
The Land campaign cites news articles detailing decisions by employers to reduce full-time positions to avoid mandates under the Affordable Care Act that employers offer health insurance to employees working more than 30 hours a week. It also cites a 2014 report by Investors Business Daily, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that work week hours in low-wage sectors hit a record low in July 2013. That was before the Obama administration announced it would delay until 2015 enforcement of the requirement that employers with more than 100 full-time workers provide health insurance. Employers with 50 to 100 workers are required to do so in 2016.
Analysis in February by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded “there is no compelling evidence that part-time employment has increased as a result of the ACA.” But the same report calculated there would be 2.3 million fewer workers by 2021 because of the health reform measure, mostly due to workers voluntarily leaving the work force.
“Because of Washington’s big bureaucracy, red tape regulation, we have fewer jobs. I'll downsize big government, cut the red tape so Michiganders can create, invest, hire and grow again."
The Land campaign cited analysis by the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation that “regulatory burdens” on Americans increased by nearly $70 billion during President Barack Obama's first term. It also cited a column by the CEO of the libertarian Cato Institute that asserts that excessive regulation costs the U.S. Economy $1.75 trillion a year.
Of course, progressives would argue that appropriate regulation is needed to ensure everything from a sound banking system to transportation and food safety and clean air and water. A federal commission in 2011 concluded the financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent economic meltdown were caused in part by significant failure in federal oversight. It cost an estimated $22 trillion in economic losses, according to the federal analysis.
But it is not true that “we” have fewer jobs, nationally or in Michigan. Federal data show U.S. employment is up by more than 4 million since Obama took office. Similar data show that Michigan gained nearly 220,000 jobs since Gov. Rick Snyder took office.
Despite anecdotal reports of employers cutting back full-time workers because of the Affordable Care Act, nonpartisan analysis finds little evidence for that. That said, the ad does not specifically claim a measurable change from full- to part-time jobs from Obamacare, only that the act has caused this to happen. The phrasing offers leeway for anecdotal examples.
Long term, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the equivalent of 2.3 million workers will elect to leave jobs by 2021 because of the act. Many will presumably do so because they can afford to buy health insurance due to subsidies offered to low-income workers. The Land campaign cites assertions from conservative sources of the cost of excessive regulation. It does not cite which aspect of “big government” or which “red tape” Land would cut.
More disturbingly, the ad incorrectly states that “we” have fewer jobs, though it’s not clear if Land is referencing Michigan or the U.S. No matter. However sluggishly, more jobs have been added nationally and in Michigan in recent years. Truth Squad initially glossed over the ad’s claim of fewer jobs, assuming it was tied to her attack on Obamacare. Upon further review, the claim of fewer jobs is made flatly, without regard to the healthcare law, and must stand on its own merit. It does not.