Claim Check: PACs Take on Linda McMahon and Social Security

by Categorized: Claim Check, Employment, Politics Date:

There is something of a hierarchy in political ad nastiness.

The tamest ads – and yes, this is entirely relative – typically come from the candidates themselves, who have at least a modest disinclination to appear overly vicious.

Ads from political parties push the envelope a little farther, taking on topics or themes the candidates may be reluctant to directly address.

And then there are the PACs, which work independently of the candidates – at least officially – and which show little hesitation to get in the mud and start slinging it around.

That’s what we see in a new ad from a pair of PACs opposing Linda McMahon’s candidacy for U.S. Senate. The 30-second spot takes a line McMahon said during a candidate’s forum last April, and twists it to create a narrative that doesn’t exist in support of a political charge that has no base.

The ad, from Majority PAC and Connecticut’s Future PAC, opens with a reminder of McMahon’s colossal wealth, noting that she’s worth $238 million and owns five “luxury homes.” The house count is accurate, based on assessors’ records in Greenwich, Stamford, Las Vegas and Boca Raton, Fla., although the Las Vegas property – a one-bedroom condominium currently worth less than $60,000 – might not qualify for the adjective “luxury.” Pinpointing McMahon’s worth is more difficult. The $238 million is a midpoint among many assets listed on her personal disclosure form, but all that is known for sure is that her investments are worth somewhere between $90 million and $350 million.

But the heart of the ad is a claim that McMahon has a proposal to eliminate Social Security – an allegation that does not survive scrutiny.

“Linda McMahon wants to sunset Social Security. Sunset – that means letting it expire,” a narrator announces. The ad then shows a brief clip of McMahon responding to a question on Social Security at a Tea Party-sponsored candidate’s forum in Waterford.

“I believe in sunset provisions when we pass this kind of legislation,” McMahon says. And from there, the ad invents a McMahon campaign platform with a dire outcome.

“McMahon’s sunset proposal would end Social Security,” the narrator declares.

But there is no McMahon sunset proposal.What McMahon said was that at the time Social Security was enacted  – in 1935 – there should have been a mechanism to revisit the law and see if it was financially sustainable. Voters are free to disagree with that sentiment and hold the position that Social Security, once enacted, was rightly protected from subsequent review. But McMahon’s comment does not indicate support for imposing a sunset provision right now on the 77-year-old program, and it is an even more-absurd stretch to proclaim that McMahon has a plan that would “end Social Security.”

Here’s the complete transcript of the question and answer on Social Security:

QUESTION: Do you believe that Social Security and Medicare are in financial trouble, and if so, what would you do to strengthen them?

 McMAHON: Well, they clearly are in trouble. We know that they’re not sustainable at their current rate. There are a lot of ways that we could look at strengthening Social Security. I do think we’re going to have to do it in a bipartisan way. You know, there are suggestions on the table, you know, that range from raising, you know, the retirement age, you know, to other methods, to means testing, to other things. And I think that we’re going to have to do that in a bipartisan fashion in Congress. We cannot continue, you know, doing things the way we are doing with Social Security. We’re just simply going to be bankrupt. And I do believe that there are ways to look at … You know, what were we trying to do when we put Social Security in place? We didn’t go back and review it. In other words, I believe in sunset provisions when we pass this kind of legislation, so that you take a look at it 10, 15 years down the road to make sure that it’s still going to fund itself. Social Security will run out of money if we continue to do what we’re doing, if we rob the trust fund. If we think there’s any money there, there’s not.

There may be legitimate political fodder in there. McMahon’s critics, for example, could have seized on her apparent willingness to consider raising the eligibility age for benefits or imposing a means test on recipients – ideas that some voters would likely oppose. But that’s not where the PACs went.

Majority PAC is “fighting to protect the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate” and Connecticut’s Future PAC is “committed to helping elect Chris Murphy to the US Senate.” That may have made it seem irresistible to take McMahon’s mention of sunsetting legislation and turn it into an incendiary accusation.

But the accusation is baseless. As such, we rate this ad “False.”

View the ad below. Click here for more Claim Check columns, and here for information on how we analyze political ads.

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27 thoughts on “Claim Check: PACs Take on Linda McMahon and Social Security

  1. Bryce

    How do these super pacs think they’re helping Chris Murphy by putting out ads that are so easily dismissed as lies? Are these DC people who just have no idea of what is happening with this race in CT? Confusing.

  2. Wawogi

    A “sunset provision” does not mean just “review”. It means that a program WILL expire unless and until it is re-authorized.

    Having said that, I am disgusted by false or misleading ads. There’s more than enough to attack McMahon on accurately and legitimately without “stretch”.

  3. Theresa

    How are we suppose to make an “informed” decision when we are being bombarded with inaccurate and completely false information. It isn’t just the Murphay-McMahon race. It’s all of them. The “facts” are distorted to the point of be nothing more than lies. This election year is more exhausting to listen to than ever before. It’s sad because it isn’t about what is best for the people of the state or the nation as a whole anymore.

    1. DON886

      I think we just need to ignore all the political rhetoric and look at their actions.

      You are correct that all the ads and speeches are all misleading.

    1. Issues Matter

      Absolutly Nothiing from Myrphy, and he wants another 6 years to find something while he collects $170,000 a year…Vote Him out!!

  4. Noteworthy

    Chris Murphy should direct his friends to take down the false ad. It’s an assault on our senses and it’s a lie. Why would you want to try and win an election based on a lie?

    1. Issues Matter

      What has he done in 6 years to earn your vote….Nothing! Congress is the lowest rated EVER! Time to say Good-buy Mr Murply, Vote him out.

  5. Theresa

    If all the candidates could just stop with the personal attacks (or the attacks in general) and concentrate on the issues and what would work best for our state and/or country (in their view) then we could make informed decisions. But the personal nature of this election year has muddied the credibility of every one of them, regardless of which office they are running for.

  6. Noteworthy

    Connecticut State Rep Joseph Taborsak of Danbury is behind this lie. It is the latest in a string of lies that independent fact checkers have found flat our false. This ad reflects the integrity and values of Taborsak. He should be remembered for it.

    1. Bryce

      I have to imagine that if that’s true, and a Dem state representative is behind this, Murphy must be in his office shaking his head saying “with friends like this, who needs enemies.”

  7. Jennifer

    Chris Murphy doesn’t care if these ads are lies. He can just step back and declare “I didn’t say that”. He wants to win the election…as do all Democrats….when has the Democratic party ever concerned themselves with the truth?

  8. kabee

    I don’t like these kind of politics either, but the McMahon camp started all this over a year ago when she hired her “attack dog” campaign manager Corey Bliss. His reputation as a nasty,negative, bullying, libelous political operative was well known and that is the route Linda chose to take ….she wants to buy this election at any cost (to herself or to anyone else). I honestly don’t blame Murphy for retaliating against a multi-millionnaire bully.

    1. jj

      Yes don’t blame him for lying. Wants to stop PACs while using them to attack Linda. He argues that she wants it for a tax cut for her yet she has spent way more then she will benefit by it. Meanwhile he takes money from special interests and PACs, how is that better? You say she wants to buy it, I say he wants to sell it. The HC has fact checked several of his ads and found them lacking in truth, is that libelous? Make any excuse you want for Murphy actions, he has taken money from big banks and voted for bailouts, maybe the contributions had nothing to do with it but how would anyone know for sure? At least Linda does not have that cloud hanging over her. When Murphy got caught in the Mortgage cookie jar,onr og his excuses was Linda did it first! Wow how mature, she told the truth and he hid it. What does that say about character?
      His first reaction to getting called out on something to try to change the subject, blame someone else for similar actions, or just lie, all the qualities you could ask for in your next senator.
      I also like how Murphy’s ads use the most unflattering pictures of Linda they can find or photoshop, kinda reminds me of the Time magazine OJ photo fiasco. But it’s ok cause all is fair in politics right? Maybe Linda should use a sharpie on Murphy’s beauty mark in her ads.

  9. Lee

    In the wake of the Treasury Department’s newly released summary of federal spending for 2012, it’s now possible to detail just how profligate the Obama years have been. Here’s the upshot: Under Obama, for every $7 we’ve had, we’ve spent nearly $11 (or, to be more exact, $10.95). That’s like a family that makes $70,000 a year — and is already knee-deep in debt — blowing nearly $110,000 a year.

  10. Bill

    What I find hilarious is that Linda has put out an ad responding to these PAC ads and referencing this fact-check, but she attributes the “lies” directly to Murphy, rather than attacking the PACs. So by trying to debunk the lie, she’s created one of her own. Gotta love election season.

    1. jj

      Hey Bill you must have missed Murphy’s own ad with the same lies. Plus he refuses to distance himself from the PAC ads so by default he using them for his own gain what a show of character on his part. Oh, he is lying about the committee meetings again by referencing his voting record. Nothing will shame him into telling the truth now will it? The Democratic menu of scaring seniors, women, and minorities is working for him, now his not the time for him to stand up and tell the truth. Just remember with Murphy you get what they paid for. They being the PAC’s and special interests.

      1. jj

        Murphy’s latest ad now drops Linda’s reference to committee hearings while still calling her a liar. Very brazen of him. I guess he is afraid some of his base might actually figure out he is the one lying about his record. Why is he so afraid to acknowledge his committee attendence record? Even after the HC said he is misleading us, he continues to spin the story. Maybe he thinks attending hearings are important and feels guilty about it, many of his supporters don’t think so. Maybe he will tell us after the election.

        Suggestion for a new Murphy ad. Because the WWE has wrestling and large crowds are generating extra heat, Murphy can blame Linda for Global warming. I see it now “Linda lies about climate change, she is responsible for the severe weather we have been experiencing.” CL&P admits CT towns and cities had to wait for power while they restored Linda’s HQ’s and homes power. Electricity for Linda, spoiled food for you.

        It couldn’t happen could it?

  11. CSquare

    Tonight during the debate Murphy did say that this was not his ad. He cannot direct the DSCC as to what to say or he would be violating campaign finance law. Bill above is correct in describing what “sunset” means. The ad is not as false as the fact-check claims. But it’s a stupid ad — no one believes McMahon is going to vote to end Social Security — she is clearly clueless as to how the federal government and Congress operate as she proved in tonight’s debate and the ones before it. She had one set response for every question no matter what was asked. She was an automaton who would not have been on the stage if she hadn’t agreed to pay for her campaign herself. But people don’t see debates, they see ads and the data shows that they are influenced by negative ads. The DSCC ads (and some of Murphy’s own) are awful as are McMahon’s own negative ads and I am disgusted at seeing all of them. But the worst one so far is the McMahon one using this “fact-check” and twisting the words of it in a totally misleading way. Soon we’ll have to have a fact-check of the ad citing the fact-check.

    1. jj

      May not be his ad but he stands by it and quotes from it during the debate. I suggest you listen to the complete quote available elsewhere before you conclude he is telling the truth and the HC is wrong.

      Social Security is going bankrupt if nothing is done to fix it. The Democrats attack vouchers for younger workers because the money would not go to the government but to the investment the worker chooses. That means there is less money for them to take from the Social Security fund which does not exist as a separate entity anyways. You think the interest rate banks offer is bad check out what the government pays when it takes the social security money to use. Murphy is trying very hard to get Linda to touch the third rail, so he can say she will destroy SS or Medicare. Merely stating she wants to look at it in order to fix it is enough for him to attack her. Please notice he does not offer anything himself to fix SS.

      Murphy also stayed on script as well, does he get a pass for that too?

      Murphy’s new ad again states that Linda is lying when she says Murphy missed almost 80% of his COMMITTEE meetings by stating his VOTING record 98% that is SPINNING the truth. Many here will give him a pass for that saying that hearings are not important but how does that translate into Linda is a liar? For her to be lying her statement has to be proven false which Murphy does not do. His statement may also be true but that does not mean she is wrong. If I state the sky is blue but you say the grass is green, it does not make me a liar. Streamlining government by reducing the number of committees and the number of unnecessary hearings is a worthy topic to debate, one that Mr. Murphy declines to I am afraid.

      And lastly you are wrong many people will believe Linda will end social security, medicare, and mammograms because these scare tactics have been used by the Democrats for many years. They like negative ads are used for the simple reason is that they work.

      1. Just Paying Attention

        Well put, they both should talk about the issues, just not sure after 6 years Chris Murphy even knows what an issue is. Go LINDA!

  12. Stehen Slobodian

    Not only are the Pac’s doing this but I now see Murphy is still airing his own add with the same claim, you would think he would have stopped that add when he found that it was baseless, I guess he just has nothing else to say.

  13. Pingback: Falsehoods Flying in Connecticut Senate Race

  14. Just paying attention

    Maybe just maybe the Citizens of CT will stop the one party rule that this year has:

    1) The Dems gave us the biggest Tax increase EVER at $2 Billion dollars.

    2) The Dems let hard core prisoners out of jail EARLY to rob, mame and kill the tax payrers in CT.

    3) The Dems Built a $1 Billion Dollar busway from Hartford to New Britain, we already had a bus route that did that! $600 million to build, $20 Million tax dollars each yr to run. CTFastrack to Bankruptcy!

    4) The Dems gave Jackson Labs $1 Million per job and has allowed them to count jobs at UConn and others so they can claim 300 jobs and get a FREE building we taxpayers paid for. JaxLabs is a non-profit, we can not tax them to get our money back, that’s why Florida rejected them.

    5) The Dems used Taxpayers money, funded hundreds of Millions of Give-a-way’s to UBS, ESPN, and CIGNA (yes CIGNA who just laid off hundreds of CT workers) in the name of job creation, WHAT A WASTE! And the hedge fund got $1.5 Million and the owner made $3.2 BILLIONlasy year in his paycheck, yes he desperately needed our TAX dollars or he surely would not survive!!

    6) The Dems Unionized day care moms against their will, taking the food money for kids and giving it directly to the Unions for “Dues”, just the Dems supporting the Unions at any cost.

    7)Look at John Larson, he says he’s doing a Great Job…at WHAT? Look at how many thousands of jobs have left CT under his watchful eyes, Thousands of Pratt & Whitney JOBS GONE to other states! Great Job Loser Larson!

    8) CT’s credit rating was downgraded, the loans we take from now on will cost more…taxpayers will PAY MORE! The Dannel did not cut, he actually increased the state budget 8% on the biggest recession since the 1929 depression. Spend on Dannel Malloy spend on because all you have to do is raise taxes, spend more and raise taxes more and more!

    Taxpayers will vote you back in because thay are not paying attention and the Dems have the total blessing of the Hartford Courant that is supporting the bankruptcy of CT.

  15. Trail of Broken Promises

    Obama campaign promises…..

    Close Gitmo, failed

    Cut the Deficit in half, Nope he added $6 TRILLION!

    Promised that unemployment would not go over 8%, Wrong it was over 8% almost his entire Presidency.

    Promised that Tarp’s $800 Billion would fix the economey, Nope…didn’t work!

    Promised we would be better off, Incomes have fallen each of the last 4 years under Obama Rule.

    Promised Obamacare would save money….What a whopper, It will take 10 years of taxes to provide 6 years of benefit and the CBO now says it will cost Taxpayers an additional $2 Trillion. Ooops just a bit off!

    Shovel ready Jobs, Nope worng on that one!

    Did I miss anything?

    He will not get my vote this year!


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