Chamber Of Commerce's Feingold Attack Deeply Dishonest

October 07, 2010 5:42 pm ET

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new attack on Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) makes the ridiculous accusation that Feingold is "turning a blind eye to the spending he used to fight so hard against." In fact, Feingold voted against TARP, the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts — the three policies most responsible for the growth of the deficit in recent years — while voting for the Recovery Act spending that saved the economy from a depression. Not content with fiscal dishonesty, the Chamber slips in the old "government takeover of health care" talking point using text on the screen instead of the announcer's voice. It may be subtle, but it's still a blatant lie.

Chamber Of Commerce: "Stands With Them"

What happened to Russ Feingold? He used to stand up to Washington politicians. These days, he stands with them. Feingold stood with them to pass the health care bill. [On-Screen Text: GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTH CARE] Feingold stood with them to pass a reckless budget, tripling our national debt. And Feingold's standing with them turning a blind eye to the spending he used to fight so hard against. Russ always said he'd change Washington. Looks like Washington changed him. Call Russ Feingold. Tell him we miss the old Russ. We can't afford his spending policies. The U.S. Chamber is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Despite The Chamber's Insinuations, There Is No "Government Takeover Of Health Care"

The announcer in the Chamber's ad simply calls it "the health care bill," but the words "Government Takeover Of Health Care" appear on the screen at the same moment. That label is false advertising.

PolitiFact: "Obama's Plan Leaves In Place The Private Health Care System." Analyzing Sen. Tom Coburn's claim that President Obama's health care reform plan amounted to a government takeover of health care, wrote:

[H]e's wrong that Obama's plan offers government-run health care.

In fact, Obama's plan leaves in place the private health care system, but seeks to expand it to the uninsured. It increases eligibility for the poor and children to enroll in initiatives like Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and creates pools for individuals to buy their own cheaper insurance. It also outlines strategies to rein in costs for everyone, such as electronic medical records and preventive care.


That may be Sen. Coburn's opinion on what could happen, but it's definitely not part of Obama's plan. And Coburn was very specific in saying that "under the Obama plan, all the health care in this country is eventually going to be run by the government." That gives the incorrect impression that Obama is promoting a government-run health care system. He's not. We rate Coburn's statement False.

[, 3/4/10, emphasis added]

National Debt, Ballooning Deficits Come From Bush Policies

Public And Foreign-Held Debt Skyrocketed While Bush Was In Office. Below are two graphs prepared by the Speaker's office showing the increase of publically and foreign-held debt during the years Bush was in office:

[U.S. Treasury via The Gavel, 6/11/10]

Before Obama Took Office, The FY 2009 Deficit Was Projected At $1.2 Trillion. As reported by the Washington Times: "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs. [...] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record." [Washington Times1/8/09, emphasis added]

CBPP 2005: Tax Cuts Are Half Of The $539 Billion Increase In Deficits Since 2001. Below is a chart from the Center on Budget Policy Priorities (CBPP) using Congressional Budget Office numbers to trace the origins of the deficit:

[, 1/31/05]

The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Driver Of Federal Budget Deficits Over The Next Decade. Below is a chart from CBPP showing the deficit impacts of war spending, financial recovery spending, the recession itself, and the Bush tax cuts:

[, 6/28/10]

Feingold Voted Against Iraq War, Bush Tax Cuts, And TARP...

2001: Feingold Opposed Bush Tax Cuts. Sen. Russ Feingold twice voted "nay" on the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. [H.R. 1836, Vote#165, 5/23/01; H.R. 1836, Vote#170, 5/26/10]

2002: Feingold Opposed Iraq War Authorization. Sen. Russ Feingold voted "nay" on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. [H.J.Res. 114, Vote#237, 10/11/02]

  • Krugman: Iraq War "Has Cost At Least $700 Billion." Writing on his New York Times blog, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman stated: "There were two big-ticket Bush policies. One was the tax cuts, which cost around $1.8 trillion in revenue; add in interest costs, and we're presumably talking about more than $2 trillion in debt. The other was the Iraq War, which has cost at least $700 billion, and will cost more before we finally extract ourselves." [New York Times, 8/27/09]
  • CBO: Cost Of Operations For Iraq War Through 2010 Is $709 Billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of operations for the Iraq War through 2010 is $709 billion. [CBO, 8/10]

2008: Feingold Opposed TARP Bailout. Sen. Russ Feingold voted "nay" on Amendment SA 5685, which created the Troubled Assets Relief Program among other provisions. [S.Amdt. 5685 to H.R. 1424, Vote#212, 10/1/08]

...And Supported The Recovery Act That Prevented An Economic Depression

2009: Feingold Supported Recovery Act. Sen. Russ Feingold twice voted "yea" on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. [H.R. 1, Vote#61, 2/10/09; H.R. 1, Vote#64, 2/13/09]

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Was Passed.  According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months.The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:


[Washington Post8/12/10]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP.  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise. [CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June.  According to Reuters

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing net private sector job gains or losses per month since December 2007.

Private Sector Employment

[Bureau of Labor Statistics via The Gavel, 8/6/10]