TRUTH TEST: TV ad attacking Craig contains facts, but also exaggerates

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Only a few television ads have aired so far in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District race, and not surprisingly, most have focused on the economy.

A new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC focused on trying to elect Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives, takes aim at Democratic Congresswoman Angie Craig.

Specifically, the ad criticizes Craig for her vote in favor of the American Rescue Plan last year. The $1.9 trillion package provided $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans along with support to local governments and businesses. The CLF claims the spending package fueled the inflation we’re all experiencing now.

“Experts feared too much spending would overheat the economy,” the ad says. “Warned it was excessive. Clearly much too large.”

In making that claim, the ad cites the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget,” a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on informing the public about fiscal policy. A blog on the organization’s website quotes former Clinton Treasury Secretary and Obama economic advisor Larry Summers as warning about the size of the stimulus.

“First, while there are enormous uncertainties, there is a chance that macroeconomic stimulus on a scale closer to World War II levels than normal recession levels will set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation, with consequences for the value of the dollar and financial stability,” Summers writes, adding, “Stimulus measures of the magnitude contemplated are steps into the unknown.”

The Washington Post editorial board also weighs in. “The White House plan calls for $1.9 trillion in spending, after a year of COVID-19 emergency funding that has already added more than $2 trillion to a spiraling national debt. There’s room to scale this back, particularly in light of a new Congressional Budget Office report that predicts a better-than-expected economic recovery.”

RELATED: Truth Test: TV ad targeting House Democrats on inflation gets high marks

While the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” cites many economists who claim the American Rescue Plan fueled inflation, they do not mention the many economists who disagree and say it plays only a small part.

“But Angie Craig said she was proud of the Democrat’s stimulus bill and voted in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi for billions in new spending,” the ad continues. This is also true. Craig joined all but one other Democrat in voting for the American Rescue Plan while every Republican House member voted against it.

Another claim in the ad is more dubious. “Money for elites. Higher costs for you. Because she was proud to spend your money.”

This claim is based on an Associated Press analysis in March 2022 that investigated how much of the money was spent. The AP found that millions of dollars were spent on golf courses, ski resorts, ballparks, hotels and other projects. However, the goal was to keep those projects going in hopes of saving or creating jobs in the construction and hospitality industries.

Although this TV ad contains mostly accurate information, it is used in a way to exaggerate and mislead viewers into thinking Craig is almost solely responsible for our inflation woes. This ad gets a “B” on the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS “Truth Test.”

Truth Test
How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test
  • An “A” requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.
  • A “B” requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations or misleading information.
  • A “C” can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads or gives the viewer no context.
  • A “D” is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.
  • An “F” is the result of more than half the information being outright false or misleading or out of context.