Fact Checker Gives “A” Grade on Claims that Ernst Voted to Repeal Coverage Protections for Pre-existing Conditions, Voted for Tax Breaks Increasing Debt By Trillions, Is Accused by Experts of Breaking the Law
This morning, the Cedar Rapids Gazette says Fact Check – True: Senator Joni Ernst broke her campaign promises to “make Washington squeal” by doling out massive tax breaks to the wealthy, instead of workers, adding trillions to the debt; voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Iowans’ vital health protections; and is now facing accusations from legal experts of breaking the law by illegally coordinating with her own dark money group to win re-election.
On the six-year anniversary of Senator Ernst’s infamous “Squeal” ad, the Iowa Democratic Party launched their own ad campaign, “Making Iowans Squeal,” holding Senator Ernst accountable for putting her political career over the needs of Iowans. The Gazette’s fact check team confirmed that, in fact, Senator Ernst’s campaign promises were nothing but a politician’s empty words to win an election, after she became a part of the problem she vowed to fix:
- “The Iowa Democratic Party accurately stated the Iowa senator’s votes in favor of the tax bill that benefited wealthy corporations.”
- “The ad accurately portrays how Ernst’s support of repealing the Affordable Care Act would impact those with preexisting conditions, including thousands of Iowans.”
- “The ad also accurately stated ‘experts accuse her of breaking the law'” after “an outside political nonprofit called Iowa Values worked closely with the Ernst organization to raise money and campaign for her reelection.”
- “Overall, Fact Checker gives these specific claims contained in the ad an A.”
WATCH: “Making Iowans Squeal”
Today’s fact check is just the latest instance of independent watchdogs finding that Ernst has spent her half-decade in Washington leading efforts to undermine Iowans’ essential health coverage and services. Last September, both the Gazette and KCRG found that Ernst voted for bills that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against the 1.3 million Iowans with pre-existing conditions.
Cedar Rapids Gazette: Fact Checker: Attack ad accuses Ernst of making Iowans ‘squeal’
By: Fact Checker Team
Monday, April 13, 2020
An Iowa Democratic Party attack ad called “Making Iowans Squeal” launched last month, accusing U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican up for reelection this year, of being loyal to special interest backers and not to her constituents. The attack ad is a nod to her viral “Make Washington Squeal” TV ad during her 2014 run for office.
We will look at these claims from the minute-and-a-half ad: “Ernst voted for a tax bill that benefited wealthy corporations and added trillions to the debt;’ “Sen. Ernst also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut protections for the 1.3 million Iowans with a preexisting condition;’ and “experts accuse her of breaking the law.”
- Ernst was one of 51 senators voting ‘yea’ in December 2017 to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in a partisan vote in which all but one Republican voted in favor and all Democrats opposed.
- The Iowa Democratic Party said the reference to John Deere is an example of a company that benefited from the tax cuts and used its windfall on dividends and stock buybacks “while leaving workers behind,” which is a line in the ad.
- The Center for Public Integrity, based on Securities and Exchange Commission annual filings, found John Deere generated $2.15 billion in U.S. income before taxes in 2018, yet owed no U.S. taxes. Rather, it reported being owed $268 million after taking into consideration various deductions and credits.
- Reuters reported Deere paid $1.8 billion in dividends and bought back about $950 million of its shares in 2018.
- News reports document 340 worker layoffs between October 2019 and May at five Iowa John Deere factories.
Next, we will check the claims about Ernst’s votes on the Affordable Care Act and to “gut protections for the 1.3 million Iowans with a preexisting condition.”
- In August 2018, PolitiFact found under the Better Care Reconciliation Act, “coverage for people with preexisting conditions would have been more expensive and less accessible.”
- In its sourcing, the Iowa Democratic Party stated Ernst supported an amendment to the Better Care Reconciliation Act that “would have weakened protections for preexisting conditions.”
- The amendment, put forth by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would allow insurers to sell some policies that would not be required to follow all Affordable Care Act market rules. That means these sellers could turn people down or charge them more or “could exclude coverage for preexisting conditions,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that focuses on major U.S. health care issues.
- For numbers of Iowans with preexisting conditions, the Iowa Democratic Party pointed to an October 2019 analysis by the liberal Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for American Progress. Its data estimated 1.29 Iowans under 65 have a preexisting condition.
And finally, we will check whether “experts accuse her of breaking the law.”
- Within its ad, the Iowa Democratic Party references a December 2019 investigative report by the Associated Press that found an outside political nonprofit called Iowa Values worked closely with the Ernst organization to raise money and campaign for her reelection, “a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law.”
- The AP quoted two sources identified as experts, including an attorney with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., who stated it’s “clear that the goal of Iowa Values is to re-elect Joni Ernst, which may violate its tax-exempt status.”
- Watchdog groups filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission, seeking an investigation into Iowa Values.
- The Iowa Democratic Party accurately stated the Iowa senator’s votes in favor of the tax bill that benefited wealthy corporations, including John Deere, but also among other taxpayers.
- The ad accurately portrays how Ernst’s support of repealing the Affordable Care Act would impact those with preexisting conditions, including thousands of Iowans.
- The ad also accurately stated “experts accuse her of breaking the law,” although no official ruling has been made on whether election campaign violations occurred. Overall, Fact Checker gives these specific claims contained in the ad an A.