How we make the call
Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:
|Who:||College Republican National Committee|
|What:||“Say Yes to the Candidate,” 1-minute web video|
With a few years of this job under our belts, it’s hard to really surprise the Truth Squad. We watched former state Rep. Lesia Liss slice bologna in her Democratic primary ad, and we saw Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun stretch the truth like taffy to get a competing bridge derailed. But the College Republican National Committee might set a new standard with their spoof of “Say Yes to the Dress,” a TLC reality show about women choosing wedding gowns.
In “Say Yes to the Candidate,” a young woman identified only as Brittany glows when she stands before her friends in “the Rick Snyder,” a fitted, strapless gown with a sparkly belt at the empire waist. (Hey, some members of the Squad used to write wedding announcements; we know how to describe a gown.) Brittany beams under her multicultural friends’ approval, but as frequently happens on the show, there’s a fly in the ointment: Brittany’s sour-faced mother, who proclaims, “I like Mark Schauer. It’s overpriced and a little outdated, but I know best.”
Brittany’s face indicates she is no fan of the dowdy, shapeless Schauer dress, which truth be told, does nothing good for her figure.
And here’s where the metaphorically challenged claims come in, as a saleswoman steps in with the “additional costs” – an ugly necklace and veil – hands them to Brittany and tells her they are “higher taxes, double-digit unemployment and increased government spending.”
“But I’ll be paying this off the rest of my life!” Brittany exclaims before telling mom, “This is my decision. And I see a better future with Rick Snyder.” All her friends agree, the champagne cork pops, and everyone (except mom) lifts a glass to the Snyder.
Before we get into the analysis, someone needs to tell Gov. Snyder (perhaps the host of another reality show,“Cheaters”): Brittany is not a one-man woman. There are additional, nearly identical “Brittany” spots running for Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott (in Florida), Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania), Bruce Rauner (Illinois), Bob Beauprez (Colorado) and Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas). Brittany describes them all as “a trusted brand, with new ideas that won’t break your budget.”
(Snyder, for his part, doesn’t think much of Brittany, telling the Macomb Daily he found the ad “dumb and offensive.”)
But factual assertions about Snyder’s opponent are made, so let’s address them.
“Don’t forget, the Mark Schauer comes with additional costs. There’s higher taxes, double-digit unemployment and increased government spending.”
As Truth Squad has documented again and again, while in the state legislature, Schauer did vote to raise the income tax from 3.9 to 4.35 percent and to expand the 6 percent sales tax to include a variety of services. (The service tax was almost immediately repealed.) This was done to avoid a shutdown of state government and to plug a $1.75 billion budget deficit.
The ad fails to mention that Snyder also raised taxes in his initial state budget, most notably on those receiving pension income. He also did away with some exemptions, which raised taxes for others. These changes were made to help offset a $1.65 billion tax cut for business, which Snyder said was necessary to spur job growth in the state.
Michigan’s economy and unemployment rate were certainly worrisome when Schauer was in the state legislature. The Great Recession pushed unemployment as high as 14 percent in 2009; but it began falling soon after, and stood at 7.4 percent as of August. As Truth Squad has noted, however, most experts who have addressed Michigan’s troubled economy put the blame on a tumbling manufacturing sector, led by the automobile industry. Placing the blame on Schauer, who was a state senator from the party not in power, is a difficult charge to support.
Schauer has supported more state spending in education and road repair, efforts that the Rick Snyder dress has also wrapped its sleeves around. (Okay, the Rick Snyder dress doesn’t technically have sleeves, but roll with us here.) All of which suggests that it’s possible taxes could rise under a Schauer administration; it’s also possible the ad is referring to Schauer’s past votes.
We’re calling this one a warning because we don’t have a category for “silly.” An ad like this, too long for television, exists less to advertise a candidate than to draw attention to itself – and to be sure, “Say Yes to the Candidate” has been rampaging through social-media feeds like a Bridezilla hopped up on diet pills. Democrats are up in arms over what they view as its condescension to women; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus defends it as “clever.” Its claims lack important context but are too generic to merit a foul, allowing Brittany to traipse from state to state like so many runaway brides. Will unemployment skyrocket if Brittany chooses the Mark Schauer? Will Brittany say yes to the Rick Snyder?
Or shall we just call the whole thing off?