Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 29, 2010

Analysis: Flagrant foul on McDowell

By the Center for Michigan
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---- — • Who: Gary McDowell

• Featured Campaign Material: Television Ad

• Truth Squad Call: Flagrant Foul

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS

"Dan Benishek wants to abolish Social Security. He wants to get rid of Medicare."

In a candidates' forum during the primary election campaign, Benishek said Social Security is "bankrupt" and there will be no money to pay benefits for people 50 years old and younger by the time they reach retirement age.

He also said Medicare is unsustainable and that he favors reforms of Social Security and Medicare proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican.

Ryan's proposals are controversial, even among some in his own party. But there is general agreement by experts that Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable at current levels of funding and benefits.

Benishek has said he favors maintaining all benefits to those currently receiving Social Security and Medicare.

"He wants to cut taxes for corporations while putting a 23 percent sales tax on everything we buy."

Benishek has said he wants to reduce the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax code, but has not endorsed the Fair Tax, which would replace the federal tax code with a 23 percent national sales tax and abolish the Internal Revenue Service. The Fair Tax organization claims its proposal to replace all federal income and payroll taxes with the 23 percent sales tax would be revenue neutral.

It also has a provision in which individual taxpayers would receive a monthly "prebate" payment to partially offset taxes on some essential goods, including groceries.

A companion Michigan Fair Tax would abolish virtually all state taxes on individuals and businesses, and replace them with a 9.75 sales tax on all consumer purchases of goods and services.

The Democratic Congressional Committee is running ads against Republican congressional candidates across the country accusing them of supporting a 23 percent tax without explaining it would replace all other federal taxes.

"And he wants to make taxpayers pay for oil spills while giving tax breaks to big oil companies like BP and Enbridge."

Benishek does not say on his campaign website that he wants to make taxpayers pay for oil spills while giving tax breaks to big oil companies.

McDowell apparently is basing this claim on comments Benishek made to a newspaper and a blogger regarding his views on the size of government and environmental protection.

Benishek told the Iron Mountain Daily News that "the purpose of government is to fill pot holes, kill terrorists and get out of the way." McDowell is interpreting that to mean government shouldn't do anything else.

Benishek is quoted on the blog site Jennerationx, managed by "thirty-something blue collar conservative journalist" Jen Kuznicki, as saying that the EPA's regulatory power should be limited.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

This is a highly misleading ad that makes exaggerated claims about Benishek's views on Social Security, Medicare and taxes. And its contention that Benishek wants taxpayers to pay for oil spills has no basis.

TRUTH SQUAD CALL: Flagrant Foul

Flagrant foul for misleading and false claims about Benishek's positions on the issues.

The Center for Michigan is a centerist think-and-do tank founded by former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan Regent Phil Power.