Blunt on Energy; Carnahan on . . . Anything
A new television ad by the League of Conservation Voters includes a group of over-the-top claims against Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Blunt.
The ad is meant to attack Blunt's record on "clean energy," but the statements made in the 30-second spot are oversimplified and pretty "clean" of specifics. "Roy Blunt says no to clean energy," booms the voiceover. "No to millions of new jobs," it continues. It goes on to claim he also "voted to hold America back."
All the statements are obviously general enough to scare -- but don't offer any help to voters seeking specifics.
For those, you can turn to Congressman Blunt's opinion piece published in the Kansas City Star Monday that contended President Obama's cap and trade plan will cost taxpayers $3,000 more every year. That claim is also untrue, according to Politifact.com, a group that spends its time tracking the authenticity of statements by politicians.
"The Republicans contend Obama's cap-and-trade policy would impose a $3,128 tax per family. But it's not a tax and it wouldn't cost that much," Politifact writes. Critics call that number overblown, and some estimate the plan would cost around $79 more each year per family. Republicans cite a 2007 MIT study that attempted to figure out the cost. But the author of that study has said the $3,000 number has been greatly exaggerated. Yet it continues to be repeated.
Still, even some Democrats acknowledge that the costs of cap-and-trade would be passed on to consumers via higher gasoline and electric bills. In Wisconsin, the State Journal praised its two Senators for opposing an effort to ram cap-and-trade through without 60 votes.
"If designed well, cap-and-trade legislation could cap carbon emissions and require those companies that exceed the cap to buy or trade credits. It would use market-based principles rather than inflexible regulations," wrote the Journal in a recent editorial.
"But if designed poorly, Wisconsin and other states that rely heavily on coal for energy to power homes, businesses and manufacturing plants could be socked with fat bills that further stall the economy," the paper added.
Blunt's spokesman stood by the $3,000 charge in a statement responding to the television ad Monday afternoon. "This false attack ad for Robin Carnahan is an attempt by a liberal group to get a vote for adding $3,000 a year to family utility bills with a 'cap and trade' energy tax, while also enriching tax-subsidy recipients like Tom Carnahan's company," said spokesman Rich Chrismer.
As noted above, that $3,000 figure is widely under fire.
But Chrismer has a stronger point when he questions Carnahan's position on cap and trade -- or a host of other current hot issues, for that matter.
"Roy and Robin Carnahan have very different positions on energy, and Robin Carnahan's refusal to answer the public's questions is the only thing preventing a series of joint media appearances this year for questions on vital national security issues such as energy," Chrismer said.
Last week, The Star reported that Carnahan dodged questions about legislation that could allow unionization without a secret ballot. "I don't know what the current form of that is," Carnahan said, before continuing to duck a series of questions, according to The Star's reporting.
Blunt has also been critical of Carnahan for her apparent support of the federal stimulus package. But in an interview with The Notebook in Hannibal, Carnahan never specifically said she would have voted for the package.
When asked for a clarification from the Carnahan campaign last week, spokesman Tony Wyche reaffirmed Carnahan's non-position. "She has said that with people hurting as much as they are that doing nothing, as some seem to be arguing was not an option. She also said that she was not there to review each and every item in the bill; that there were many items that deserved to be removed or at least should have received more scrutiny. She's also said that we need to make absolutely sure that anything we do in the name of economic stimulus is actually stimulative and creates jobs," Wyche said.
Not even Senators who have been in Congress for decades are able to read each and every item in a bill; and if Carnahan was there, it would be unlikely she would be able to either. She could make a statement, pledging to do just that. Then again, that would be taking a position.
The argument is that it's too early for specifics, that the public is drained. But the Secretary of State won't be able to get away with these open-ended answers as the calendar creeps closer to 2010.
But the early back-and-forth between Blunt and Carnahan might leave you wondering: What's worse: Exaggerating a claim to make a point or concealing a position to avoid one?