Weekend open thread: Campaign ads and zombie lies

How’s your weekend going? Don’t forget to enter Bleeding Heartland’s election prediction contest if you think you know Iowa politics.

It’s Halloween and probably the last weekend for political commercials on Iowa television until Republican presidential candidates start running ads next year. Negative ads far outnumber positive ones, especially in the Iowa House and Senate races.  Judging from this blog’s traffic, a lot of people are searching for information on “Iowa heated sidewalks,” presumably because Republican House candidates are using the “heated sidewalks” canard against many Democratic incumbents. I also see references to flowerpots or trolleys in Des Moines and Iowa’s so-called billion-dollar deficit that doesn’t exist. Bleeding Heartland readers in other Iowa media markets have told me they see similar claims in ads for Republican statehouse candidates.

Many commercials feature “zombie lies,” claims that have been debunked repeatedly.  

Commercials paid for by Republican candidates and outside groups blame Representatives Leonard Boswell, Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley (and even some Democrats in the Iowa legislature) for “$500 billion in Medicare cuts” supposedly imposed by “Obamacare.” Politifact has dissected this “highly misleading impression” about Medicare funding, and Factcheck.org concurs.

One of Terry Branstad’s new commercials pushes false lines about I-JOBS and job growth that were disproved months ago. Governor Chet Culver’s campaign posted a detailed fact-check here. Speaking of the governor’s race, a few days ago I had one of the evening newscasts on while my seven-year-old was in the room. After seeing the Branstad ad called Our Children, which I discussed here, my son was indignant: “He says he’s giving kids pre-school! That’s what he’s taking away!”

In terms of hyperbole and deception, nothing tops a new commercial Republicans are running against Democratic candidate Susan Bangert in the open House district 8 race. This commercial started running in Des Moines this week and was paid for by the Committee to elect Tom Shaw. Shaw’s campaign disclosure documents show most of his funding came directly from the state GOP.

Female voice-over: Susan Bangert’s agenda by the numbers. [words on screen: “Susan Bangert’s agenda”]

500 billion. That’s the number of dollars cut from Medicare because of Bangert’s support of Obamacare. [words on screen: “Supports Obamacare”

1 billion. That’s Iowa’s deficit thanks to Bangert’s support of Culver’s agenda. [words on screen “1 billion” and “Iowa’s deficit thanks to Bangert”]

21,000. That’s the number of Iowa seniors who recently lost Medicare. [words on screen: “21,000” and “Iowa seniors who lost Medicare”]

And Bangert even said big government isn’t the bad guy? [“Big government isn’t the bad guy”]

Add up the numbers. We can’t afford Susan Bangert’s big government plans for Iowa. [“Add up the numbers” “We can’t afford Susan Bangert” “paid for by Committee to elect Tom Shaw”]

Wow, I didn’t know Congress checked with a speech pathologist in Algona before they agreed to changes in Medicare.

And even if Iowa did have a billion-dollar deficit (which it doesn’t), how would Bangert’s “support for Culver’s agenda” have anything to do with the budgets the Iowa legislature has passed? She’s not an incumbent.

Finally, Iowa senior citizens weren’t kicked out of Medicare. They were moved from Medicare Advantage programs (which cost the government more because they are run inefficiently) into regular Medicare.

This commercial seems to be entirely fact-free, though perhaps Bangert did say big government isn’t the bad guy–no source is given for that quote, so I can’t check.

UPDATE: Alert Bleeding Heartland user IowaVoter says that during a KLGA radio Algona candidate forum on October 21, Shaw commented regarding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, “I disagree with how those programs got started to begin with.  I wish those programs weren’t in place […].” So even though he hates big government, including Medicare, he’s attacking Bangert for supporting alleged cuts to Medicare.

In several other open House districts, Democratic candidates are getting blamed for policies they never voted for or took a position on.

Republicans are complaining about some Democratic ads too. State Senate candidate Rick Bertrand filed a defamation lawsuit on October 22 over a commercial paid for by the Iowa Democratic Party and approved by Senate district 1 candidate Rick Mullin. The Sioux City Journal posted the ad, which says Bertrand “put his profits ahead of children’s health” and “was a sales agent for a big drug company that was rated the most unethical company in the world.” Bertrand says “he never sold, marketed, or profited from” the sleep drug mentioned in the commercial. Democrats stand by the ad, and the court case won’t be settled until after the election.

Republican Kent Sorenson has a new ad running responding to “personal attacks” by Democrat State Senator Staci Appel (Senate district 37). I wish Appel were running some positive ads or at least comparative ones along with her commercial about Sorenson’s vote on a gun bill, which has been running on Des Moines stations for the past month.

State Senator Becky Schmitz has an ad up depicting Republican Sandy Greiner as a “dream killer” based on her voting record in the Iowa House and Senate. I haven’t seen the commercial, because it’s not on YouTube and I don’t living in the viewing area for Senate district 45. I’d like to hear more from Bleeding Heartland readers about how that campaign is going.

This is an open thread.

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