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Published May 01 2012

Ad attacks Berg’s voting record, support for Ryan budget proposals

FARGO – National Democrats have launched a rebuttal ad targeting Republican Senate candidate Rep. Rick Berg in the wake of a conservative group’s attack on Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent $76,000 on its ads in North Dakota, which marks the first TV ad buy from a national party this election year.

The Democratic committee’s ad comes in response to an ad launched last week by Crossroads GPS, the policy arm of American Crossroads, a super PAC founded by former Bush strategist Karl Rove.

Like Crossroads’ critique of Heitkamp, the DSCC’s ad attacks Berg’s record, specifically on Medicare and his support for House Republicans’ budget proposals.

Here’s a breakdown of the DSCC’s ad and the facts behind its claims:

Narrator: (Berg voted) to essentially end Medicare...

Berg voted April 15, 2011, in favor of the House Republican budget for fiscal year 2012, a proposal that included changes to Medicare.

The overhaul, proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, sought to change Medicare from a fee-for-service program into one that subsidizes individuals’ private insurance. The plan was never enacted.

The Wall Street Journal said Ryan’s plan “would essentially end Medicare ... as a program that directly pays (health care) bills.” However, national Democrats’ claims that the proposed overhaul would kill Medicare altogether were debunked by PolitiFact and other national news outlets.

Narrator: ... gut support for farmers ...

In claiming Berg voted to cut federal aid for farmers, the ad refers to Berg’s support for Ryan’s 2013 budget plan, which includes a recommendation to cut future farm bill spending by

$180 billion.

That amount would far exceed the $23 billion in spending cuts the House and Senate Ag Committees agreed upon for the 2012 farm bill.

Berg said April 18 that Ryan’s recommendation of $180 billion has “no teeth,” since specific budget cuts will be determined by congressional committees.

“There’s not absolutely everything in the budget proposal that I agree with,” Berg said.

Narrator: ... while giving huge tax breaks to millionaires.

The 2012 and 2013 budgets proposed by House Republicans and supported by Berg included major tax reforms that would benefit wealthier Americans.

Proposals in Ryan’s 2013 plan “would cut taxes for the wealthy” by capping individual and corporate tax rates at 25 percent, which is down from today’s 35 percent brackets, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Creating a system based around those reformed tax brackets would potentially mean eliminating smaller tax credits and deductions, which would mostly affect low- to middle-income families, The Financial Times reported.

The House Ways and Means Committee, of which Berg is a member, would be tasked with drafting the specific tax reform called for under Ryan’s 2013 budget plan.

Narrator: That’s not the way we do things in North Dakota. Heidi Heitkamp knows. She’ll protect Medicare and defend our farm and energy jobs.

In early April, Heitkamp wrote an editorial column that reaffirmed her support for a balanced budget amendment that did not include Medicare.

Heitkamp has pledged on the campaign trail that her top priorities include seniors, as well as energy and ag policy.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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