Debunkering down


Geraldine Sealey
March 12, 2004 9:51PM (UTC)

John Kerry's campaign has created a decoder ring of sorts for Bush-Cheney '04 attacks against the presumptive Democratic nominee. It's the D-bunker blog, designed to weed out GOP "weapons of deception and distortion," as a Kerry spokeswoman called misleading attacks against her candidate. The Kerry campaign made a feisty announcement about D-bunker on its Web site, echoing comments the candidate refused to retract about the GOP attack machine being "the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen."

The Kerry home page says: "John Kerry saw what the right-wing smear machine did to John McCain in South Carolina, and Max Cleland in Georgia. Now, they're coming after him, and he's not going to take it. In keeping with that, the Kerry campaign is launching a new rapid-response website to help supporters beat back the right-wing smear machine."

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One D-bunker installment looks at a claim in the latest Bush ad that "to pay for new government spending, [John Kerry will] raise taxes by at least $900 billion." There are a few things wrong with that statement. First is the error of omission: The "new government spending" refers to providing health care benefits for millions of currently uninsured Americans. Then there's the error of commission: John Kerry has never said he would raise taxes by "at least $900 billion." The Kerry campaign calls this charge "completely false." "John Kerry's only revenue increases are to close corporate loopholes and to simply repeal new tax cuts that go only to people making more than $200,000," says Peter Daou on D-bunker.

Now, granted, Kerry's D-bunker blog is biased, but it's a good resource for counterarguments to the endless barrage of GOP attacks meant to "redefine" Kerry. Another, unpartisan resource for ad busting is the Annenberg Fact Check Center, which today peels apart layers of truth and untruth from Bush's latest ads.

But FactCheck also takes a dig at Kerry for not showing how he'd pay for his health care plan and other programs while repealing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. "Neither side is exactly right," FactCheck says. It's clear the Bush campaign is not exactly right because nowhere does Kerry plan to raise taxes by "at least $900 billion" (that number comes from an analysis of how much Kerry's health care plan would cost.) And Kerry's "not exactly right" because he hasn't provided full details of how he'd balance new health care benefits, education spending and his tax proposals, FactCheck says. "Pressed on that point, Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan told FactCheck.org: 'John's not the president yet. When he becomes the president he'll send up a whole budget.'"

But the AP analysis says "[Kerry's] campaign has promised to flesh out his tax-and-spending plans in the next few weeks." We'll see then what Kerry's numbers add up to. But for now, it seems the only campaign definitely "not right" is Bush-Cheney for making up the $900 billion figure.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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