Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Ad Watch: A look at the latest claims by Romney, Crossroads and Hirschbiel

Mitt Romney makes his $1 trillion tax hike claim in this ad that is playing in Virginia.

As the clock ticks toward Election Day, ads from candidates and third-party groups appear with more frequency and air more attacks.

Let’s highlight some of the recent claims and how PolitiFact has rated them:

Mitt Romney claim: "To pay for government-run health care, you’ll pay higher taxes and more for your medicine. And their plan includes $1 trillion in higher taxes, even on the middle class."

Republicans have repeatedly claimed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a slew of new taxes, including many on the middle class, and this Mitt Romney ad raises nothing new. The act, passed in 2010 and known now as Obamacare, does include several taxes, though most of them will affect only a few people, such as tanning bed users and those who have medical savings accounts.

PolitiFact has previously found that President Obama has raised taxes at least 13 times, but that he also cut taxes for 95 percent of families. Claims that Obamacare is the greatest tax increase in history or would charge $1 trillion in new taxes have been rated Pants on Fire.

Crossroads GPS claim: "Tim Kaine supports cap and trade, a huge tax and a big job-killer. The scheme Kaine backs could increases energy costs for small businesses by 40 percent, costing us 50,000 jobs."

Tim Kaine, Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. does support the concept of cap and trade, but he has not backed a particular plan, as the Crossroads GPS ad claims. He gave testimony as governor to a U.S. Senate hearing on climate change and the Chesapeake Bay in 2007, supporting a broad "cap-and-trade program" but giving no endorsements of particular legislation. And the state did not sign on to any voluntary cap-and-trade program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative among states in the Northeast.

The cost of cap and trade varies by proposal. If the government sold green credits on an auction and gave the proceeds back to consumers through energy efficiency programs and rebates, the cost of energy for consumers could decline. Other programs show would likely increase costs, gradually at first and then much higher later on. Compared to other efforts, cap-and-trade legislation is one of the least expensive options for controlling greenhouse gases, experts said. We rated a similar claim Mostly False.

Hirschbiel claim: "Experts say Rigell’s plan would force seniors to pay over $6,000 more a year" for Medicare.

Paul Hirschbiel is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Scott Rigell in the 2nd Congressional District, centered in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

Hirschbiel’s ad refers to a Medicare plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who became the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee. Ryan has included plans to change Medicare in both of his budgets -- one for fiscal year 2012 and one for 2013 -- which passed the House on party-line votes. Rigell voted with Republicans in support of the budgets.

But Hirschbiel, like other Democrats have, bases this statement on the 2012 budget, which would turn Medicare into a premium support program instead of a defined benefit program for those aged 55 and younger. The government would give money to that population, when it reached retirement age, to help them buy health insurance from approved private insurance plans. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office figured that in 2022, when the program would first be implemented, the out-of-pocket health care costs would be $12,500 under the Ryan plan, as compared to $6,150 for traditional Medicare.

There are two problems with the claim. First, only people aged 55 and under would see any changes to their Medicare coverage. And Ryan changed his plan in the 2013 budget to allow those future seniors to choose between traditional Medicare and the premium-support plan. CBO said it wasn't able to estimate what the costs would be for beneficiaries. Different PolitiFact affiliates have rated claims like Hirschbiel’s Half True or Mostly False.