NORFOLK-- Most of Republican Rep. Scott Rigell’s television ads have been positive, but his commercial “Anything But Jobs” is especially harsh in its criticism of Democratic challenger Paul Hirschbiel.
Rigell accuses Hirschbiel of having an agenda that “raises taxes on small business and the middle class."
Hirschbiel’s campaign says that is obviously not true. Independent fact checkers and at least one local college political science professor agree.
The commercial bases their information on Hirschbiel’s stated support for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
However, supporting the Act does not equate to supporting increasing taxes.
The non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact.com, investigated a similar claim by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, that Obamacare will add to the national debt.
On June 28, Politifact.com called Romney’s claim “false,” adding that Obamacare “is not going to add to the debt because the legislation raises money to pay for the costs.”
Quentin Kidd is a political science professor and chairman of the Department of Government at Christopher Newport University.
Kidd studied the ad and came to the same conclusion as Politifact.com.
“They’ve taken an argument that the affordable care act raises taxes, which is completely different from 'Paul Hirschbiel supports the Affordable Care Act', and they’ve put the two together and said, 'because he supports it, and because we have this organization out here that claims it raises taxes, therefore he must support raising taxes,'” said Kidd, who went on to call that logic, “a big leap."
Kidd also took issue with the ad’s claim that Obamacare would cost 800,000 jobs.
On June 13, Politifact.com cited a Congressional Budget Office report to debunk a similar claim by former Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachman.
Politifact.com stated, “It’s not clear such changes would have a substantial impact on overall economic productivity or output,” and rated the claim, “mostly false."
“The question whether the Affordable Care Act costs jobs and money or doesn’t cost jobs and money is a point in the ad where there’s a lot of disagreement,” said Kidd. He added, “But objective analysis suggests the Affordable Care Act isn’t costing money."
Kidd does say overall the ad was effective in its goal of making Hirschbiel seem sinister, but the facts as presented just don’t add up.
Kidd said if the ad was a project turned in by one of college students, he would give it a D.
“On the facts, I mean, one of the charges is simply flat-out not true, and the other one, the jury’s out on,” said Kidd.
Rigell received the lowest grade of the political commercials reviewed in the WVEC Ad Watch project.
Regent University Government Dean Chuck Dunn gave a Tim Kaine ad a C.
Norfolk State University Political Science Professor Carol Pretlow gave a George Allen ad a B-minus.
Old Dominion University Political Science Professor Kimberly Karnes gave a Hirschbiel ad a C.
Most of the teachers’ complaints centered on a lack of proper context to support facts presented in the ads. The professors were also critical of the ads stretching the truth.