Washington Post Says Landrieu Lies in TV Ads

Fact Checker – Cutting Social Security to fund tax cuts for the rich?

By Glenn Kessler

Rep. Bill Cassidy’s “record is crystal clear: voting to cut Social Security benefits to pay for tax breaks for millionaires like himself.”

– voiceover of new ad sponsored by the campaign of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)

This tough new ad from Landrieu — who faces a runoff election against Cassidy — uses clips from a Cassidy speech to make him appear seriously unhinged. Readers can judge for themselves how out of context the clips are (the ad directs viewers to the full speech), but The Fact Checker was interested in the small bit of policy substance highlighted in the ad: “His record is crystal clear: voting to cut Social Security benefits to pay for tax breaks for millionaires like himself.”

There are three key elements to this claim: that Cassidy voted to cut Social Security benefits, that he voted to use the savings from Social Security to fund tax cuts and that he, as a “millionaire,” would benefit from those tax breaks.

On Social Security, the RSC budget plan would have slowed spending from the program’s trust funds by gradually raising the retirement age and changing the method of calculating cost-of-living adjustments. Specifically, the budget would have changed the formula to something called that chained consumer price index, a proposal President Obama also embraced until recently.

Okay, if the Social Security changes are intended to extend Social Security, then how does it pay for a tax cut for the rich? That’s where the logic of Landrieu’s ad starts to fall apart. The RSC budget calls for a revenue-neutral tax plan so in theory no savings from Social Security are needed to pay for any revenue loss.

The Landrieu campaign justifies this line by saying the budget was intended to achieve balance over 10 years, so the $137 billion in Social Security savings is used to help achieve balance. The campaign also argues that the tax plan has not been proven to be revenue neutral but instead relies on optimistic assumptions.

Once again, we should note that all of this would have become clear if actual legislation had been drafted and scored by the Congressional Budget Office. But this is just a budget blueprint, so the Landrieu campaign is layering assumptions upon assumptions.

Another assumption is that Cassidy would benefit from these tax changes. The ad labels him “a millionaire” — and he has an estimated net worth of nearly $1.6 million — but his disclosure statement suggests that he earns relatively little income from his investments. Much of his income is from his congressional salary, which at $174,000 a year puts him well below the income level that would be affected by such proposals such as restoring George W. Bush-era tax cuts for people making more than $400,000 a year.

On several levels, this claim falls short. Whatever one thinks of Cassidy’s Social Security proposals, they are aimed at helping preserve the system, not funding tax cuts for the wealthy. Landrieu has to go through several leaps of logic to tie those benefit changes to tax cuts for the wealthy — and then to assume Cassidy would benefit greatly.

The Landrieu campaign earns Three Pinocchios – Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.


5 Responses to “Washington Post Says Landrieu Lies in TV Ads”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    More of Mary’s lies.Someone needs to check Mary’s record and where she got all of her money,she didn’t work for it.

  2. Donald Maroon Fouler Says:

    Republicans lie about 50% of the time. Democrats lie all the time.

  3. Cowboy Says:

    The Washington Post is running a story entitled “This is Why Mary Landrieu is in Serious Trouble” by Philip Bump that is especially insulting to Louisiana. Mr. Bump takes several opportunities to imply that Louisiana is somehow less than American for having parishes instead of counties and jungle primaries instead of primaries. Mr. Bump even goes so far as to strike out the word “parish” and substitute the word “county” when discussing election details. The link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/11/10/this-is-why-mary-landrieu-is-in-serious-trouble/.

    As a Southerner who was born and raised in Louisiana, it galls me to no end to see these d a m n yankees insult us in their condescending way like we are beneath them! They preach fealty to diversity and impose political correctness, then turn around and make fun of us for being different in ways they would find objectionable and unacceptable if they were directed at their favored groups! White Southerners are the only group of Americans the elitist class have deemed okay to demean in any manner! It is THAT condescending attitude towards us white Southerners which is most responsible for Mary Landrieu’s electoral trouble!

    We’re d a m n tired of being insulted by elites like Mary Landrieu who live in Washington mansions and make fun of us hicks back home at DC cocktail parties, then run down here to lie about how much she’s been working for us at election time! Mary Landrieu has been gone from Louisiana so long she doesn’t even know her way around anymore! It’s time we in Louisiana voted Landrieu out of office so she doesn’t have to be ashamed of us and we don’t have to put up with her!

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