Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Cookie-cutter politics

The cookie-cutter approach means the attacks on members of Congress in Ohio are identical to the ones in other states.
The cookie-cutter approach means the attacks on members of Congress in Ohio are identical to the ones in other states.

Chances are you live in a city with a radio station that calls itself "Mix [Insert number]" and plays "the best of the ‘80s, ‘90s and today." It's the place on your radio dial where you can still hear Every Breath You Take and Don't Stop Believin’.

If you travel to another city, the odds are pretty good you'll find another "Mix [Insert number]," also playing "the best of the ‘80s, ‘90s and today." As you listen to Don't Stop Believin’ for the millionth time, you feel like you never left home.

The cookie-cutter approach works. The radio stations all sound the same, but the companies that own them find lots of efficiencies by using the same approach in every market.

The same goes for the Republican and Democratic parties. As we saw in the 2010 campaign, the parties find a few good talking points and then use them in identical attacks in targeted congressional districts. Case in point: a new attack from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In a news release, the NRCC blamed U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, and other Democrats for the government's fiscal problems.

"Betty Sutton and her fellow Democrats went on a spending spree and now their credit card is maxed out," the NRCC said.

PolitiFact Ohio checked the facts and found that was significant exaggeration. Although Democrats shoulder a fair amount of blame for the nation's fiscal woes, so do Republicans because they voted for tax cuts and additional spending that also contributed to the large deficits. PolitiFact Ohio rated the NRCC's claim Barely True.

There are 59 other Democrats who were targeted in nearly identical news releases. So if you hear a similar claim against your local member of Congress -- perhaps during the news on "Mix-[Insert number]" -- you'll know it is an exaggeration.

UPDATE: After the initial PolitiFact Ohio item was published, the NRCC issued a news release that said PolitiFact Ohio had confirmed the group's attack was accurate. PolitiFact Ohio then rated that claim Pants on Fire.