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Tom Feran
By Tom Feran March 5, 2012

Marcy Kaptur claims Dennis Kucinich opposed senior drug coverage when she supported it

Congressional redistricting in Ohio has turned two veteran incumbents from the same side of the aisle, Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich, into Democratic primary opponents in the new 9th District.

Each has a long record to boast, or defend, in what amounts to a fight for survival -- as shown by a 30-second TV ad for Kaptur that Kucinich says misrepresented his voting record on job creation, veterans' care and prescription drug benefits for seniors.

PolitiFact Ohio previously looked at two of the claims -- "When Marcy Kaptur brought home $42 million for new manufacturing jobs, Dennis Kucinich voted no"  and "When Kaptur helped get $15 billion more for veterans care, Kucinich voted no." We rated both Half True.

Now we'll look at a third statement: "When Kaptur fought for the Democrats' prescription drug benefit for seniors, Kucinich voted no."

The ad cites as its source the role call vote on the Stenholm Amendment to Congressional Resolution 290 of March 23, 2000.

Yes, that is 2000.

Bill Clinton was in the White House, John McCain had just ceded the race for the Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush, anxiety over Y2K had passed, unemployment was at 4 percent and the federal budget showed a surplus.

Much credit for the latter was claimed by a Republican congressman named John Kasich, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Now Ohio's governor, he was bringing his last budget resolution to the floor -- and, touching on a topic raised frequently in more than 14 hours of debate, promising a prescription drug plan for seniors by the end of the year.

According to the Kaptur campaign, Kucinich voted against the prescription drug plan offered by conservative Democrats in their alternative budget proposal, the Stenholm Amendment, at a time "when there was no alternative with a chance."

Kucinich voted for another Democratic plan that failed. He would have considered the Stenholm plan a "halfway measure," Kaptur's campaign spokesman said -- "He wanted the perfect, not the good."

Kucinich's campaign answered that he voted against the Stenholm Amendment advanced by "Blue Dog" Democrats "because it it also included about $4 billion more in military spending than even the Republicans had proposed.

"He supported and voted for the budget plan advanced by the Democratic leadership of the House, which included $40 billion over fiscal years 2001 through 2005 and $155 billion through fiscal year 2010 for a Medicare prescription drug benefit and premium and cost-sharing protections," Kucinich's campaign spokesman added. Kaptur, incidently, also voted for that plan.

In fact, the House considered and rejected five budget proposals before passing the resolution offered by Kasich, according to the Congressional Record's account of floor proceedings and the Congressional Research Service:

  • The Owens Amendment, advanced by the Congressional Black Caucus, was defeated by a vote of 70-348.

  • The DeFazio Amendment, offered by the Progressive Caucus, was defeated 61-351.

  • The Sununu Amendment, representing the Republican Conservative Action Team, was defeated 78-339.

  • The Stenholm Amendment, from "Blue Dog" Democrats, "sought to retire the public debt by 2012; provide investments in education, veterans, health care and defense; and establish a $40 billion Medicare reserve fund that can be used for Medicare reform and a prescription drug benefit," according to the CRS summary. It was defeated 171-243. Kaptur voted yes; Kucinich voted no.

  • The Spratt Amendment, advanced by party leadership, "sought to pay down the public debt, provide targeted tax relief to working families, retain 100 percent of the Social Security surplus, and provide funding for a Medicare prescription drug coverage," according to the CRS. It was defeated 184-233. Both Kucinich and Kaptur voted yes.

Both voted against the budget resolution advanced by Kasich, which passed 211-207.

That brings us back to the claim in the ad: "When Kaptur fought for the Democrats' prescription drug benefit for seniors, Kucinich voted no."

We think that claim isn’t accurate on a number of counts.

Kucinich did in fact vote no when Kaptur voted yes on one budget proposal. But labeling that proposal as "the Democrats’ prescription drug benefit for seniors" is inaccurate. It was one of four Democratic proposals and not leadership’s plan (which Kucinich and Kaptor both supported.  

It is misleading to imply that Kucinich’s no vote was a vote against a prescription benefit. His vote came on a resolution encompassing the entire $1.8 trillion federal budget that contained, among many things, the prescription benefit Kaptur’s ad cites..

Ultimately, a dozen years later, the question of whether the plan Kaptur’s ad touts was better is moot. The Spratt Amendment supported by both Kucinich and Kaptur actually won more votes than the Blue Dog proposal that Kaptur backed but Kucinich opposed, but neither was going to win passage  from the House's Republican majority.

We rate Kaptur’s ad claim False.

Our Sources

The Plain Dealer, "Tension between congressional candidates Kucinich, Kaptur on full display at City Club debate," Feb. 20, 2012

Marcy Kaptur campaign, "No," Feb. 20, 2012

Email from Andy Juniewicz, spokesman for the Dennis Kucinich campaign,  Feb. 19, 2012

Email from Steve Fought, spokesman for the Marcy Kaptur campaign, Feb. 21 and 22, 2012

Congressional Research Service, "Appropriations for FY2001: An Overview," Sept. 22, 2000

Congressional Record, V. 146, Pt. 3, pp. 3438-3557, March 23, 2000

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over, 1977 to date, accessed Feb. 29, 2011

Bureau of Labor Statistics, month-by-month unemployment statistics from 2000 to present, accessed Feb. 29, 2011

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Marcy Kaptur claims Dennis Kucinich opposed senior drug coverage when she supported it

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