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Truthish or Falsey: Mark Kirk's "Deficit Hawk" Ad

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Truthish or Falsey: Mark Kirk's "Deficit Hawk" Ad
Truthish or Falsey: Mark Kirk's "Deficit Hawk" Ad

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Mark Kirk’s latest campaign ad, “Deficit Hawk,” is an exercise in implication and innuendo.

“Quinn and Giannoulias agree: your taxes should go up,” the ad begins. “Alexi supports higher state and federal income taxes.”

By omitting the full details of Giannoulias’s position on income taxes, Kirk gives the impression -- intentionally, for sure -- that his opponent agrees with Gov. Quinn’s proposal to raise the state income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent.

For that, we have to rate this ad “Kinda Truthy.”

The ad uses this quote from Giannoulias’s appearance before the Illinois Education Association: “I have repeatedly said from Day One as your state treasurer, that while politically it’s not the smartest thing to say, we need an income tax increase.”

Giannoulias has repeatedly said that he favors an income tax increase coupled with a decrease in property taxes, as a way of making Illinois’s school funding system fairer. Quinn has only called for an income tax increase. Here’s what Giannoulias told Don Wade & Roma on August 13:

Wade: What about that income tax raise?           

Giannoulias: You couple that, after you have the property tax decrease, with a slight increase in the state income tax, so that we have a more equitable school system.  Our funding mechanism, even you guys would have to agree with that -­ the quality of your education here in Illinois is based on how nice the homes are in the neighborhood. 

The charge that Giannoulias favors higher federal income taxes is true, to the extent that the candidate favors allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to expire.

 

The ad concludes with the statement “wealthy Giannoulias paid no taxes last year.” That’s a recitation of a Chicago Tribune headline, which is displayed onscreen.

That part is true. To quote the Tribune article: “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias didn’t have to pay any state and federal income taxes last year because of big losses tied to his family’s failed Broadway Bank.” Giannoulias did announce he would donate his $30,000 tax return to charity.

As every politician knows, there’s a difference between “lying” and “not providing all the facts.” In this ad, Mark Kirk tried to use that gray area to his advantage.

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