SPOKANE, Wash. — It seems like every time we turn on the radio or television, we're inundated with political ads. Among the most common, those from the major candidates for Congress in our area: Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Lisa Brown.
With election day less than two months away, we decided to fact check some of those ads. Below, a breakdown of two of them, one from each candidate.
First, an ad that Democrat Lisa Brown has been running a lot lately.
Right near the start, it cites an article from Forbes entitled "How GOP Tax Plan Will Whack Working Americans." But here’s an important note: it’s an opinion piece from a contributor, not a news story from a reporter.
Next, the Brown ad claims of McMorris Rodgers and other Republicans: "Their philosophy is a big tax cut, with most of the benefits going to the wealthy."
The accuracy of this claim depends on a couple of things. First, how do you define wealthy? If you mean anyone who makes at least six figures, then yes, the GOP tax law gives more breaks to the wealthy.
But if your definition of wealthy is at least $200,000 per year, it gets trickier. With this definition, who benefits more changes over time. In 2019, the middle and lower classes get more breaks. That’s also true in 2023 and 2025. But in 2021 and 2027, the rich do benefit more.
Then, the Brown ad says: “[Republicans] then say oh, now we've got to talk about cuts to Social Security, and to Medicare."
This claim is basically true. Republicans' current budget proposal does say Congress should consider finding ways to cut spending to entitlements. But that proposal is only a blueprint, a suggestion. It hasn't come to a vote yet, but even when it does, it will not itself have any real impact on spending.
Now, let’s take a look at a recent attack ad launched by Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
It centers around a claim that "Lisa Brown voted to raise college tuition by over 80 percent."
College tuition in Washington did rise dramatically while Lisa Brown was Majority Leader in the State Senate. But, it wasn’t like there was one vote where everyone said "yes, increase tuition by 80%". It was a series of budget decisions.
Those decisions were fueled by the recession. The state had a huge budget gap it needed to fill, so the legislature cut spending across the board, including to higher ed. That created a budget gap for the schools. To help make that up the legislature, Brown included, lifted the cap on tuition hikes. The result: over the next few years, tuition shot up.
The ad then goes on to state that Brown “then took a job at a state university that paid her 364,000 dollars a year."
That number is accurate; it was her salary as chancellor of WSU Spokane in 2016. Though, it was slightly less in previous years. It’s also worth noting that by the time she was taking this salary, the recession and the tuition hikes were ending.