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By Bill Wichert August 5, 2012

DCCC ad campaign targets House Republicans for wanting to cut taxes for millionaires, but not the middle class

Between images of a supermarket employee and a wealthy guy sitting in a robe outside his mansion, a new Democratic ad campaign goes after House Republicans for apparently supporting tax breaks for millionaires, but not the middle class.

With a series of videos posted on YouTube last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting 23 GOP House members, including New Jersey’s Jon Runyan (R-3rd). Runyan is seeking reelection in November against Democratic challenger Shelley Adler.

The campaign aims to "expose" the representatives "who are about to vote for another tax cut for millionaires at the expense of the middle class and seniors," the committee said Monday in a news release.

Each online ad starts off like this: "Good news! Republicans want to cut your taxes. Not you," the narrator says as an image of the supermarket employee appears on the screen.

"You!" the narrator continues, as the ad shifts to an image of the wealthy guy outside his mansion, followed by images of a yacht, private jet and waterfront home. "And you deserve a break -- after all, these things are expensive."

Returning to images of middle-class folks, the narrator later adds: "This guy? Her? They don’t need it. They’ll just buy groceries and pay the mortgage."

The ad targeting Runyan ends with this on-screen message: "Tell Congressman Jon Runyan -- Stop putting millionaires over the middle class."

Here’s the problem with these ads: the proposal from House Republicans would extend tax cuts for all income levels -- not just millionaires.

This Democratic campaign centers on the pending expiration of federal income tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush, and commonly known as the "Bush tax cuts." The lower income tax rates were originally set to expire at the end of 2010, but President Barack Obama and Congress later extended them through the end of 2012.

Democrats have been pushing a bill that extends the tax cuts through 2013 for individuals with income below $200,000 and married couples earning less than $250,000.

Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans.

In a 256-171 vote on Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House approved a Republican bill that extends all of the tax cuts through 2013. Runyan and the other 22 representatives targeted by the DCCC campaign voted for the bill.

Higher-income households would see greater tax savings under this Republican proposal, compared with other households. Still, it’s wrong for the DCCC to suggest the GOP only wants to cut taxes for millionaires.

In response to our findings, DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin said in an e-mail: "If Congressman Runyan wanted to give the middle class a tax cut he wouldn’t be holding it hostage in order to get more tax cuts for millionaires."

But unlike the Democrats’ plan, the House Republicans’ bill would not extend five other tax policies benefiting lower-income households, which are separate from the Bush tax cuts.

Those provisions -- which were first included in the economic stimulus bill approved by Obama in 2009 -- include an income tax credit worth up to $2,500 to offset higher education costs.

"The (House) GOP bill would continue most of the tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of the year but would allow the Obama tax cuts enacted in 2009 and extended in 2010 to expire," said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. "The latter would raise taxes on some families, mostly those with low income."

Our ruling

In an online ad campaign, the DCCC suggests Runyan and other House Republicans support a bill that cuts taxes for millionaires, but not the middle class.

It’s true that the House Republicans’ bill would not extend certain tax benefits originally included in the stimulus package, but the legislation would extend the Bush tax cuts across all income levels, thereby giving all taxpayers a break.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

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Our Sources

Jon Runyan - The Millionaires, a video posted July 30, 2012 on YouTube

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, DCCC Continues on Offense, Launches Powerful Ads "The Millionaires", July 30, 2012

U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Section-By-Section Summary of the "Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012" (H.R. 8), July 24, 2012

Congressional Research Service, An Overview and Comparison of Senate Proposals to Extend the "Bush Tax Cuts": S. 3412 and S. 3413, July 25, 2012

Joint Committee on Taxation, Technical Explanation Of H.R. 8, The "Job Protection And Recession Prevention Act Of 2012" Scheduled For Consideration By The House Of Representatives, July 24, 2012

Joint Committee on Taxation, Estimated Revenue Effects Of H.R. 8, The "Job Protection And Recession Prevention Act Of 2012", July 24, 2012

PolitiFact Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan says Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal will cost patients $6,000 more a year, June 13, 2011

Tax Policy Center, Senate Proposals to Extend the 2001-2010 Tax Cuts, accessed Aug. 1-2, 2012

THOMAS, Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, accessed Aug. 1-2, 2012

New York Times, House Approves One-Year Extension of the Bush-Era Tax Cuts, Aug. 1, 2012

E-mail interview with Roberton Williams, a senior fellow with the Tax Policy Center, Aug. 1-2, 2012

U.S. Department of the Treasury, The American Opportunity Tax Credit, Oct. 12, 2010

Internal Revenue Service, American Opportunity Tax Credit: Questions and Answers, accessed Aug. 2, 2012

Phone and e-mail interviews with Josh Schwerin, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Aug. 2, 2012

Center for American Progress, Standing in the Way of Middle-Class Tax Cuts, July 31, 2012

Tax Policy Center, Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan: More Big Tax Cuts for the Rich, March 23, 2012

NBC News, House votes to extend current tax rates after shooting down Obama plan, Aug. 2, 2012

House Republican Conference, Digest for H.R.8: Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, accessed Aug. 3, 2012

New York Times, Bush-Era Tax Cuts, Aug. 2, 2012

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DCCC ad campaign targets House Republicans for wanting to cut taxes for millionaires, but not the middle class

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