McMahon Campaign Economist Responds to Claim Check Analysis of Tax Cut Ad
John Dunham, an economist working for Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign, says the Courant’s Claim Check feature made “fatal flaws” in its analysis of a McMahon ad in which the candidate claims her tax plan would cut the average Connecticut family’s federal income taxes by $500 a month.The $500 figure was calculated by the campaign using a family income of $125,000 and comparing taxes under McMahon’s plan to what a family would pay in 2013 if the current Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. The Claim Check column rated the ad “significantly misleading,” noting that $125,000 is not the average family income in Connecticut and that the ads left the impression that taxpayers would see a $500 tax cut from what they are currently paying. Compared to what an average Connecticut family currently pays in taxes, McMahon’s proposal would actually yield a savings of $82 a month.
In a written statement, Dunham did not directly address either point, but noted, as the campaign had previously, that given the campaign’s decision to compare McMahon’s plan to a family’s tax liability in 2013 rather than the present, the campaign was obligated to use the tax rates that would be in effect next year if there is no Congressional action to extend the Bush tax cuts.
Dunham did not dispute that $125,000 is an incorrect figure for what the McMahon ad described as the income of “the average Connecticut family,” but said the income amount was a “reasonable starting point,” because it is half the $250,000 figure that President Obama has identified as the upper limit of the middle class.
In a reference to the rating categories used by Claim Check, Dunham rated the Claim Check on McMahon’s ad as “Mostly Inaccurate.”
Read or download Dunham’s full statement below.