The American Action Network (AAN), a right of center think tank, is releasing a six-figure ad campaign “holding liberal members of Congress accountable” over votes against Republicans’ Limit, Save, and Grow Act of 2023. It specifically names U.S. Rep. Wiley Nickel of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District.
The spending bill would raise the debt ceiling and avoid a dangerous default, but slash trillions of dollars in government spending. It failed in the House of Representatives this week on a 217 to 215 vote, with all but four Republican members of Congress voting for it. No Democrats supported it.
The ad begins with a series of images likely eliciting strong negative emotions from conservatives, including of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shouting and waving her arm, Nancy Pelosi and a Democrat in the House chamber wearing a face mask. The message, likely would reach other less partisan voters.
“Their extreme policies made our economy a mess. Now they refused to responsibly raise the debt ceiling,” a narrator begins.
It goes on to list offending votes, including against “saving billions of dollars in unspent coronavirus relief,” rejecting “cutting red tape to lower your costs,” and “against reducing America’s debt, keeping us reliant on China.”
The first claim in the ad, about unspent COVID-19 relief, refers to a vote earlier this month rejecting Republicans’ plan to rescind unspent pandemic funds, estimated to be between $50 billion and $70 billion, as part of debt ceiling negotiations, according to a New York Times article cited in the ad.
The ad doesn’t offer a citation for its claim about reducing red tape, though that could refer to any number of Republican-backed issues limiting government that Democrats typically oppose.
On the vote against “(House Speaker Kevin) McCarthy’s debt ceiling plan,” the ad references an April 25 Washington Examiner article about a House vote rejecting his plan. The $4.8 trillion number comes from a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis.
Democrats, in general, oppose tying stipulations to raising the debt limit and instead want those negotiations to occur through the regular budget process, something President Joe Biden has stated several times.
They also have concerns about a provision in the Republican-backed plan that would impose work restrictions on Medicaid restrictions, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would save the federal government $109 billion over 10 years. But it would also push 1.5 million adults out of medical coverage and, for states choosing to cover those affected individuals, cost them about $65 billion over the same 10 year period, while still leaving about 600,000 people displaced from health care.
But the AAN press release announcing the ad, which targets 14 members of Congress from 11 states, including Wiley, cites its own “battleground survey.” That survey, released last week, found half of Americans in 87 congressional districts where Biden won the 2020 election by an average of 5 points oppose raising the debt ceiling without also cutting government spending, while only 37% supported it.
The question asked simply whether respondents “favor or oppose congress increasing the debt ceiling without cutting government spending.”
But another question is more leading, with the survey asking participants which statement they “agree with more”: “Speaker McCarthy and Republicans in Congress believe that they debt ceiling should be raised but it would be irresponsible to do so without spending cuts that get our ballooning debt under control,” or, “President Biden and Democrats in Congress believe that the debt ceiling should be raised to ensure the United States does not default on its debt obligations, sending our economy into crisis, before engaging in negotiations on cutting spending.”
There, 53% said they agreed with McCarthy and Republicans while only 39% said they agreed with Biden and Democrats.
The poll also tells respondents that “Speaker McCarthy is negotiating to raise the debt ceiling in good faith while rightfully insisting that any negotiation includes cutting out-of-control government spending.” It goes on to ask whether voters agree that “if the debt ceiling is not raised and the United States defaults on its debt, causing a national economic crisis, President Biden and Democrats in Congress will be to blame.”
Respondents agreed with the statement by a 51% to 40% margin.