Scarborough claimed McCain's "3 a.m." ad would "probably work," but didn't note that its key assertion is false

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Responding to an ad by John McCain's campaign, which asserts that in response to "home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering," "[Hillary] Clinton and Barack Obama just said they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes -- more money out of your pocket," Joe Scarborough said the ad would "probably work." But Scarborough didn't note that the ad's central claim is false: Neither Clinton nor Obama has asserted that she or he would respond to "home foreclosures rising" by raising taxes.

On the April 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough aired Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign ad, which asserts that "[t]here's a phone ringing in the White House, and this time the crisis is economic -- home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering. [Sen.] John McCain just said the government shouldn't take any real action on the housing crisis; he'd let the phone keep ringing." Scarborough then aired McCain's ad responding to Clinton's ad, which asserts that in response to "home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering," "Clinton and [Sen.] Barack Obama just said they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes -- more money out of your pocket." Commenting on both ads, Scarborough asserted, "I'm a Republican, so I think the 'don't raise our taxes' ad will probably work better, but we'll see." But Scarborough did not note that the ad's assertion that Clinton and Obama would "solve the problem" of "home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering" by "raising your taxes" is false; neither Clinton nor Obama has asserted that she or he would respond to "home foreclosures rising" by raising taxes.

Neither Obama's March 27 speech on the economy nor his proposals to "Protect Homeownership and Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud" call for any new or increased taxes; in his March 27 speech, Obama asserted that "[t]o help low- and middle-income families, I've proposed a 10 percent mortgage interest tax credit that will allow homeowners who don't itemize their taxes to access incentives for home ownership."

Nor did Clinton call for new or increased taxes in her March 27 speech on "Halting the Housing Crisis" or her proposal to "Help Families Avoid Foreclosure And Unfreeze Mortgage Markets." In her March 27 speech, Clinton specifically addressed the issue of cost, saying that a major initiative she supports to deal with increasing foreclosures -- allowing the Federal Housing Administration to "stand ready to be a temporary buyer -- to purchase, restructure, and resell underwater mortgages" -- would "not require a single new federal bureaucracy, it would be designed to be self-financing over time -- so it would cost taxpayers nothing in the long run."

Moreover, despite the claims of McCain and his campaign advisers, which the media have uncritically reported, or, as with Scarborough, not challenged, Clinton's and Obama's economic proposals also do not include tax increases for all Americans, as McCain's ad implies. Obama's campaign website states that he "will create a new 'Making Work Pay' tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family." CNN reported on September 18, 2007: "Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed overhauling the tax code to lower taxes for the poor and middle class, increase them for the rich and make it so most Americans can file their taxes in five minutes. The tax relief plan he envisions for the middle class alone would mean $80 billion or more in tax cuts, he said." Indeed Obama has proposed "at least $80 billion a year in tax cuts to middle-class workers, homeowners and retirees."

Similarly, in a March 27 speech on the economy, Clinton also called for "middle class tax cuts":

CLINTON: I have proposed a very specific agenda to end the giveaways to corporate special interests and to save the American people at least $55 billion a year.

That's money that can go right back into your pockets through middle class tax cuts, money we can use to create new high-paying jobs, to invest in our nation's futures (sic) again, you know, for rebuilding our roads to our schools to our manufacturing sector.

Additionally, in a March 27 interview (subscription required) with The Wall Street Journal, Clinton noted that she supports "letting the [Bush] tax cuts expire for those making over $250,000." Clinton's campaign website states that she would "[l]ower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC [earned income tax credit] and the child care tax credit." Clinton also discussed reducing the tax burden on middle-income families in an October 8, 2007, speech on economic policy.

From the April 3 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: You obviously have heard about the new round of 3 a.m. ads, right?

BRZEZINSKI: Yes. There are not one, but two.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, Hillary Clinton fires at John McCain. He returns the volley.

BRZEZINSKI: He fires right back.

SCARBOROUGH: Let's show Hillary Clinton's first. This is Hillary Clinton with a new 3 a.m. ad.

[begin video clip]

ANNOUNCER: It's 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House, and this time the crisis is economic -- home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering.

John McCain just said the government shouldn't take any real action on the housing crisis; he'd let the phone keep ringing. Hillary Clinton has a plan to protect our homes, create jobs.

It's 3 a.m. Time for a president who's ready.

CLINTON: I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.

[end video clip]

BRZEZINSKI: Hmm.

SCARBOROUGH: And John McCain responded in kind. Here's his response ad.

[begin video clip]

ANNOUNCER: It's 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone ringing in the White House, and this time the crisis is economic -- home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama just said they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes -- more money out of your pocket.

John McCain has a better plan. Grow jobs, grow our economy -- not grow Washington.

It's 3 a.m. Time for a president who's ready.

[end video clip]

BRZEZINSKI: OK, can we move past bowling and 3 a.m.? Is it possible?

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Do they raise taxes and foreclose on homes at 3 a.m.?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I guess so. It's important.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, yeah.

BRZEZINSKI: I don't know.

SCARBOROUGH: I'm a Republican, so I think the "don't raise our taxes" ad will probably work better, but we'll see.

BRZEZINSKI: Might. Might, might, might.

SCARBOROUGH: I think it will. You show those people at the kitchen table looking through things that look like IRS forms.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, that one. Yeah, those are good.

SCARBOROUGH: That's good.

BRZEZINSKI: I think they have, like, a name, Harry and Louise, or I don't know. Whatever.

Posted In
Economy, Housing, Taxes
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.