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Truth Squad: foul for Stabenow; flagrant foul for Hoekstra

After the presidential race, the top of the ballot in Michigan is the U.S. Senate race.  Michigan Watch teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to review recent ads produced by Republican Pete Hoekstra and Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

Senator Stabenow’s ads are found on TV and on a website.

John Bebow with the Michigan Truth Squad says his team went through the ads and fact-checked the claims she makes about Pete Hoekstra.

“Hoekstra will end women’s access to health care, opposing equal pay for women, tax breaks for millionaires, higher taxes for the rest of us. There are some hard-hitting claims in these ads and they’re pretty well backed up," Bebow said. 

Bebow went on to say, "There are a couple that are not so well backed up and deserve some voter scrutiny.”

AD: “Pete Hoekstra would cut Medicare. His plan turns our guaranteed Medicare benefits into a voucher program, costing seniors $6400 more a year all to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and oil companies.”

“That’s not quite true. It’s based on some outdated plans for Medicare reform. And the voucher system that Pete Hoekstra has said he would support actually applies to future seniors not the current seniors  in Michigan. So, that is a truth stretch on which we called a foul,” the Truth Squad's Bebow explained.

Bebow says the Stabenow ads on the website also claim Hoekstra wants to drill for gas and oil in the Great Lakes. Bebow says Hoekstra has altered his position, saying he’s against drilling platforms in the lakes, but is in favor of slant drilling, that is starting onshore and drilling under the lakes, a distinction not made clear in the Stabenow ads. Another foul.

The Truth Squad also reviewed a Hoekstra video that is set up as a sort of spoof on the old Miller Lite beer 'Great Taste – Less Filling' ads. It’s set up in a bar with two groups of patrons debating problems they say Stabenow has caused.  One side shouting, “Higher taxes,” the other shouting, “Fewer Jobs.”

Bebow says the ad accurately presents the job loss numbers, although he notes it’s hard to blame one U.S. Senator for the job figures in Michigan. The other claim about taxes is more of a problem.

“In the middle of this ad there is a bar patron who holds up a sign saying that Debbie Stabenow has raised taxes 150 times while she’s been a Senator.”

AD: “These are just some of the times Stabenow has voted to raise taxes on hard-working families. If you’re married, have kids, run a small business, Stabenow has socked it to you big.”

Bebow says the Truth Squad asked the Hoekstra campaign for the source document on the claim Stabenow raised taxes 150 times. Bebow says the campaign sent the document, but at the top of it there was a warning. Bebow reads from it.

"Please, also be aware that these votes cannot be characterized in a way that implies that each would have resulted in a tax increase. That would be inaccurate."

Bebow added, "That’s the source material on which the claim that she raised taxes 150 times is based. They’ve ignored their own source material. That’s a ‘Flagrant Foul’ in our eyes.”

So, to sum up:  ‘Fouls’ for the Stabenow campaign and a ‘Flagrant Foul’ for the Hoekstra campaign.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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