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By W. Gardner Selby March 14, 2014

Dan Patrick suggested every family get $5,000 voucher toward buying a car instead of Uncle Sam bailing out auto manufacturers

A game show-themed TV ad that debuted just before the Texas Republican Party primary showed different viewers in shock as the unseen "host" declared objectionable "facts" about Dan Patrick, the Houston state senator who ended up drawing more than 40 percent of the primary vote for lieutenant governor. Patrick and incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst are slated to run off for the Republican nomination on May 27, 2014.

The ad, sponsored by Dewhurst, included this curious claim: Patrick, the announcer said, "supported giving a $5,000 taxpayer-funded voucher to every family to buy a car."

Did Patrick, a radio talk-show host and businessman who hasn’t served in Congress, do that?

By email, Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine sent us Dewhurst’s backup document for the ad, which states that twice on CNN’s "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Patrick suggested vouchers for Americans to buy cars instead of the federal government bailing out automobile manufacturers.

On the Nov. 25, 2008, edition of the show, Dobbs suggested an urgency to the then-proposed bailout and sought Patrick’s thoughts, according to CNN’s transcript.

Dobbs: "This auto industry bailout, we got to have it. There's just no question. Whatever the reason is, national security, you name it. Three million people lose their jobs. We have got to do something. I don't get why Congress is so uptight about this idea after basically signing on for $8 trillion. Do you, Dan?"

Patrick: "Well, I do get it from this standpoint, Lou, is until we see a plan that they're going to change their business model, we're bridging the gap until they eventually go bankrupt. I'm not in favor of any of these bailouts but I would rather see let's bail out the middle class that you had a story earlier in the show that's being hammered. Give each family a voucher for $5,000 that can only be used if they buy a new truck or automobile."

"That will start moving inventory," Patrick then said.

The Texan added: "We need some practical thinking on the main street level to help the average, American family. That's what we need to help get the economy rolling. Once the economy is rolling, everything takes care of itself but I'm tired of giving money to Wall Street, tired of seeing Congress have no transparency where this money is going.

"Let's put it in the pockets of the people," Patrick said. "We got here, Lou, because once upon a time, the saying was, we're spending our children's money and our grandchildren's money. This government is now spending our great-grandchildren's money and the factor of inflation and debt is going to destroy this country."

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Earlier on the program, Patrick said: "Most people don't want to see General Motors fail but they also don't want their tax dollars and bail out a company that has had bad ideas and bad management."

Patrick also brought up the voucher idea on the March 31, 2009, edition of Dobbs’ program, we confirmed from the CNN transcript.

"Six months ago," Patrick said to Dobbs, "I was on your show here after the first stimulus, Lou, and I suggested that the government send a $5,000 check to every head of a household who had an auto registration and it could" only be "used to buy a car." (Patrick wasn’t that specific earlier, at least according to the 2008 show’s transcript.)

Patrick continued in his 2009 appearance: "If we want to use stimulus money effectively, send a check for five grand to everyone in America, head of a household, that they can only use to buy a car. That will move cars." Later in the interview, Patrick said: "But instead of sending Detroit the money, send it to people" to go buy a car.

Asked about the senator’s statements to Dobbs, Patrick spokesman Logan Spence pointed us to a Patrick campaign web page including a section declaring Dewhurst’s voucher claim a lie. "This is a misrepresentation of" Patrick’s "position," Patrick’s camp says. "He said that the money the federal government was playing with to bail out the auto industry would be better served being returned to their rightful owner—the taxpayer—for use of buying a car should they want to." Vouchers, Spence said by email, struck Patrick as a "better and cheaper idea."

Our ruling

Dewhurst said Patrick "supported giving a $5,000 taxpayer-funded voucher to every family to buy a car."

Patrick advocated such vouchers, but this claim fails to note that Patrick pitched them as a direct way of bolstering auto manufacturing instead of the federal bailout of manufacturers. It’s worth clarifying, too, that a state senator doesn't hold much sway over what the federal government does.

We rate this claim as Mostly True.

MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

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Dan Patrick suggested every family get $5,000 voucher toward buying a car instead of Uncle Sam bailing out auto manufacturers

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