Ad Watch: Evaluating the accuracy of political advertising
Edwards Says Bush Favors Wealthy
Candidate: John Edwards
Time: 30 seconds
Producer: Axelrod and Associates
Audio: EDWARDS: This president should be made to explain why a multimillionaire sitting beside his swimming pool should be paying a lower tax rate than a teacher, than a police officer, than a secretary.
ANNOUNCER: John Edwards's plan has been called the best platform of all the candidates. Repeal tax breaks George Bush created for wealthy investors, and target tax cuts to the middle class. EDWARDS: Helping them buy a house, helping them invest, helping them save.
Analysis: This ad, featuring the North Carolina senator addressing a crowd with rolled-up shirt sleeves, continues his effort to position himself as a working-class champion taking on the special interests.
But the commercial creates a misleading impression. Under Bush's tax cuts, the average single taxpayer Edwards is talking about -- earning less than $68,800 -- pays a rate of 15 percent or 25 percent, plus payroll taxes, while those earning more than $311,950 -- including multimillionaires -- pay the top rate of 35 percent.
Robert Gordon, Edwards's policy director, said the ad refers to wealthy
people who live entirely on investment income and therefore pay a capital
gains rate of 15 percent -- although the commercial makes no such distinction. "The ad doesn't say every millionaire or all millionaires -- it says
millionaire," Gordon said. "There are lots and lots of millionaires that
this would be true about." But not all millionaires live off their trust funds, and teachers and police officers who own stock or mutual funds would pay the same capital gains rate.
The line about Edwards having the "best platform" is the opinion of a New Republic writer, which is credited on the screen.
Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke dismissed the ad as
"class warfare." But it does reflect a legitimate Democratic argument that
the majority of tax relief under the Bush administration has flowed to the
-- Howard Kurtz
© 2003 The Washington Post Company