Brand new Branstad ad, same old Branstad lie

Terry Branstad’s campaign started running a new television commercial statewide yesterday. The ad repeats the same revisionist history and false claims Branstad’s been pushing for months.

The commercial can be found after the jump, along with some fact-checking.

My transcript:

Chet Culver is criticizing Terry Branstad’s accounting practices–really? Our state auditor calls Terry Branstad “open and honest,” and Terry is the governor who actually cleaned up state finances, leaving a nine hundred million dollar surplus.

Chet Culver has spent two and a half billion dollars more than he’s taken in, creating nearly a billion dollar deficit and forcing a five hundred million dollar property tax hike.

Iowa on Terry Branstad, or Iowa on Chet Culver. Any Questions?

Branstad keeps slamming Culver for spending “more than he’s taken in,” but allocating federal money and dipping into rainy day funds are not the same thing as running a deficit. Iowa is coming out of this recession with a healthy balance in our reserve fund, which can’t be said of our neighbor to the north under the leadership of Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Culver also kept the budget balanced while sparing most critical government services from deep cuts. Branstad should show us how he would have balanced the current-year budget without spending more than 99 percent of projected state revenues.

Also, Branstad has a lot of nerve taking credit for the $900 million surplus Iowa experienced near the peak of a nationwide economic boom. Branstad was anything but fiscally responsible at the time, as the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Todd Dorman observed a few months back:

Please, remember the $900 million surplus that existed when he left office and was squandered by Democrats. Forget that during his last two years in office, Branstad and a Republican Legislature responded to a temporary surplus by enacting $400 million in permanent tax cuts and $390 million in spending increases for ongoing programs. Branstad wasn’t around for the next economic downturn in 2001 when the house of cards collapsed.

The Culver campaign’s solid response to Branstad’s commercial highlighted other inaccuracies too:

For Immediate Release June 21, 2010


DES MOINES – The Branstad campaign launched another ad without citations to back up their false and misleading claims.

Little of what Terry Branstad says is the truth about Governor Chet Culver is really the truth. If it were, the Branstad campaign should be able to find sources and documented background to back up their claims.

The truth is that Iowa has a triple-A bond rating from all three rating agencies. The state budget is balanced. The state of Iowa expects to have over $500 million in the bank by July 1. Despite the economic recession, Governor Chet Culver has not raised taxes on hard-working Iowans.

“The Branstad campaign is lodging misleading, false attacks on Governor Culver. Their ad has no citations or background to back up their claims. If they were telling the truth about Chet Culver’s record, perhaps they could manage to find citations,” said Culver/Judge Campaign Manager Donn Stanley.

“This isn’t new for Terry Branstad. His campaign put out several ads during the primary, spending millions falsely attacking Chet Culver and not one of those ads had any citations either,” continued Stanley.


CLAIM: Chet Culver is criticizing Terry Branstad’s accounting practices? Really?

FACT: It’s not a surprise that Terry, once labeled “Governor-for-life,” believes that he’s just entitled to be elected Governor and reacts with outrage whenever Republicans or Democrats question his record. [Des Moines Register, 8/21/1994]

CLAIM: Our state auditor calls Terry Branstad “open and honest.”

FACT: Despite whatever the political motivations of current Republican state auditor are, the Republican auditor who served with Terry Branstad says otherwise. Richard Johnson said 1994 that Branstad cooked the books. [Cedar Rapids Gazette, 6/1/1994] When Branstad recently claimed there weren’t two sets of books, Johnson said “I think he does need to be transparent to the public about what actually happened.” [Des Moines Register, 6/12/2010]

CLAIM: And Terry is the governor who actually cleaned up state finances, leaving a $900 million surplus.

FACT: Branstad took ten years to deal with the problem as he himself admitted on Iowa Press. [Iowa Press, 6/11/2010] Branstad shouldn’t get credit for a problem he ignored for over ten years.

Furthermore, he’s the one who created the problem in the first place. In May 1994, the Des Moines Register reported that:

“‘Our state budgets were traditionally built on a cash basis of accounting,’ says his [Johnson’s] letter. ‘That changed in June, 1983, when, even though state sales taxes were raised 33 percent effective March 1, 1983, a constitutionally based deficit was avoided by adding July and August receipts to the June 30 books to erase a deficit of $112 million. The pattern of deficit spending thus started in 1983 continued until 1992 when the Iowa Legislature finally passed a 25 percent sales-tax increase and a seven-point expenditure limitation plan to restrict state spending and require limitation of the accumulated deficit of over $400 million.’ [Des Moines Register, 5/5/1994]

CLAIM: Chet Culver has spent $2.5 billion more than he’s taken in, creating a nearly billion-dollar deficit, and forcing a $500 million property tax hike.

FACT: Terry Branstad attacks Governor Culver for spending reserve funds, which are built up specifically to assist the state during revenue downturns, and for spending federal ARRA money for its intended purpose: to preserve jobs and essential services, especially education.

FACT: There is no billion-dollar deficit. Terry Branstad is referring to “projected budget gap,” which unlike Terry Branstad, Governor Culver has worked to close. Terry Branstad signed into law budgets with actual unconstitutional deficits. For instance, in 1991 the state ran a $250 million deficit. [Des Moines Register, 6/12/2010] Also, in in 1985 Iowa had a $250 million deficit according to Moody’s. [Des Moines Register, 6/16/85] In today’s dollars, that’s over half a billion dollars. [Minneapolis Federal Reserve Inflation Calculator]

FACT: Terry Branstad continues to cite a study from December 2007 in reference to the across-the-board cut, which happened almost two years later. The study he is citing refers to projected property taxes and was made prior to the Bush Housing Market Crash. [Des Moines Register, 1/16/2008] Or at least that’s what we think he is citing, because the Branstad campaign never provides full citations to back up its claim.

CLAIM: Iowa on Terry Branstad, or Iowa on Chet Culver. Any questions?

FACT: It’s apparent that many Iowans, including Republicans, have a lot of questions about Terry Branstad’s record of reckless budgeting.

ADDITIONAL CLAIM MADE IN PRESS RELEASE: “The true test of a leader is how one deals with adverse and difficult circumstances, and the results of those efforts,” said Branstad 2010 campaign manager Jeff Boeyink.”

FACT: We think that Jeff’s right. Governor Culver responded to difficult economic times by cutting the budget, investing in needed infrastructure in order to create jobs and by not raising taxes. Terry Branstad responded to adversity by cooking the books and passing two sales tax increases. Iowa Tax Rate History,…

About the Author(s)