The attacks concerned Schrier enough in the final days of the historically expensive House race that she recorded a video response and posted it to Facebook.
In Washington’s 8th Congressional District race, Republicans have for weeks lashed Democratic candidate Kim Schrier with TV ads claiming she’ll raise taxes on middle-class families.
Dino Rossi, Schrier’s Republican rival, has labeled her “Dr. Tax” in ads, saying she supports a 57-cent-a-gallon gas tax, a $32 trillion government takeover of health care, and a $2,800 income-tax increase “on every family.”
“Kim Schrier: prescriptions so costly they need a warning label,” Rossi’s ad concludes.
Similar spots by outside Republican groups have hit Schrier for supporting a new state income tax.
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“You have probably seen the attack ads. Well let me be clear. I will never create a state income tax. I do not support a 57-cent gas tax and I will not repeal tax cuts for the middle class,” Schrier said in the video. “Dino Rossi is lying. He knows that he cannot stand by his record and that he has never worked for the middle class.”
So where does Schrier actually stand on these taxes? As with many political ads, the tax attacks have a grounding in the candidate’s own past statements, but they distort or exaggerate her positions.
(Rossi, too, has faced a barrage of negative attack ads, including one tying him to fugitive developer Michael Mastro. The Seattle Times examined that ad earlier this month.)
Schrier’s campaign strongly rejects Rossi’s claims that she’d raise federal income taxes on average families.
The accusation stems from Schrier’s criticism of the GOP tax-cut law passed this year. If those tax cuts were repealed in their entirety, taxes would go up for a median-income family of four in the 8th Congressional District by about $2,800, Rossi’s campaign said, citing estimates by congressional staffers.
But Schrier has repeatedly said she would target tax increases for wealthy Americans and big corporations, not middle-class families. In a debate this month, she said she would “take away some of those cuts for the wealthiest, close the loopholes that let people get away without paying their fair share and keep benefits for the middle class.”
Rossi’s campaign said that’s a flip-flop compared with what Schrier was saying during the primary this spring. At one event she said she would “vote to reverse this appalling tax bill,” according to a video excerpt posted by Rossi’s campaign in its own Facebook rebuttal to Schrier.
For his part, Rossi has remained steadfast in his backing of the $1.5 trillion Republican tax-cut law, expressing little concern with reports the cuts helped swell the federal budget deficit by 17 percent in a single year.
In her new Facebook video, Schrier said, “I will never create a state income tax” — a carefully worded statement that does not change her position on the tax, but it is true insofar as a state income tax is a matter for state legislators, not a member of Congress.
The “57 cent a gallon” gas-tax claim stems from Schrier’s support for Initiative 1631, the carbon-fee measure on the November ballot. As with a state income tax, that matter won’t be up to Congress and will be decided by state voters.
There are estimates that the carbon fee would increase gasoline prices by 14 cents in the first year, rising in subsequent years. But Schrier spokeswoman Katie Rodihan called the 57-cent number “an exaggerated estimate used by the oil and gas industry to spread misinformation.”
When ads by Rossi and Republican groups mention a “$32 trillion takeover of health care,” they’re referring to proposals for a “Medicare for all” system, and specifically to cost estimates for a bill proposed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and some U.S. House members.
Schrier, a pediatrician, has expressed support for moving toward universal Medicare access for all Americans. But she has not endorsed the Sanders plan. Instead, she says the United States should offer a “public option” allowing people to buy to the government health-care plans as an alternative to private insurance.
The nonpartisan fact-checking organization PolitiFact has rated similar Republican attacks on Schrier’s Medicare position as “Mostly False,” noting Schrier “is no Bernie Sanders, nor is her health plan his.”