Monday, Oct. 20, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Summary: Democrat state Sen. Dina Titus attacks her 3rd Congressional District opponent, Rep. Jon Porter, in a new TV ad, calling him “another Washington politician.”
The Script: “As our economy crumbles, Jon Porter has received four pay raises in Congress, but voted eight times against raising the minimum wage. After just five years in Congress Porter, receives a government-guaranteed pension but wants to privatize Social Security and gamble your benefits in the market. Porter has the best health care your dollars can buy. But voted to cut veterans’ health care. That’s Republican Jon Porter — just another Washington politician.”
The Video: Visuals include a newspaper story headlined “Nightmare on Wall Street,” a photo of Porter and the Capitol with the text “Porter four pay raises,” and a photo of two female workers and the text “Porter opposed raising minimum wage.” Next are a photo of Porter speaking on the House floor with the text: “Porter” and “guaranteed government pension,” $100 bills with the same words, a video that pairs an elderly couple with the words “Porter” and “privatize Social Security,” and a shot of the trading floor with the same words and a red graph line going down the screen. The visuals close with the Capitol with the text: “Porter” and “taxpayer paid health care,” a veteran saluting with the American flag in the background and the phrase “Porter cut veterans’ health care,” and photos of Porter and the Capitol with the text “Porter another Washington politician.”
The Reality: The ad is disingenuous in its portrayal of Porter’s salary. He has voted against the pay raises every year since he was elected to the House in 2003. Furthermore, the increases are annual, automatic adjustments and were set by the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, 14 years before Porter’s congressional career started. Congress can deny the raise, which it has done once during Porter’s tenure, in 2007. With Porter’s opposition to the raises, the ad is particularly unfair in couching the raises in terms of the current economic conditions.
Porter has voted against increasing the minimum wage, but he supported the latest increase after it included tax breaks for small businesses. The ad also distorts a 2002 questionnaire that asked a push question about giving seniors more control over their retirement accounts. Porter answered yes. That is not the same as supporting privatization of Social Security, which Porter says he doesn’t.
It is unfair to juxtapose his government-paid health care with veterans benefits. In 2007, Porter voted against a budget proposal that included a $6.6 billion increase in veterans benefits. That is not the same as cutting health care. In 2006 he voted in favor of a defense appropriations bill that the Congressional Budget Office said was short $6 billion needed to maintain current services. In the last session Porter was an original co-sponsor of the new GI Bill.