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Owens, NRCC try to Bigfoot one another


Several north country residents have reported Bigfoot sightings lately — on their televisions.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, is out with an ad that says he doesn't want to raise taxes on small businesses, despite claims by his opponent, Matt Doheny. The campaign used the mythical woodland creature to make that point.
"Saying Bill Owens wants to raise taxes on small businesses is as fake as this guy," the ad says as a picture of Bigfoot flashes across the screen.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, is out with an ad of its own, saying that the claims are, in fact, true.
The Owens campaign says he doesn't want to raise taxes on small businesses — but notably, the ad doesn't claim that he didn't raise taxes on small businesses.
The Republican claim that Mr. Owens did vote to raise taxes on small businesses comes from his vote to approve the Affordable Care Act.
That's based on a report from the National Federation for Independent Business, a group that opposes the law, also called Obamacare. The law levies a penalty — some, including the Supreme Court, call it a tax — on people who don't get insurance or businesses that don't provide it.
Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, though, reports that tax credits to purchase insurance far outweigh the expected penalties. The Washington Post reports that the tax credits will be available to companies with no more than 25 employees and whose employees make no more than $50,000.
The NFIB says it's poorly constructed and will lead to higher taxes.
Plus, there's the whole issue of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers. Medical device manufacturers aren't typically what one would consider a mom-and-pop operation, but the law did hike taxes on them. Mr. Owens voted to get rid of the tax, but it didn't pass the Senate.
So the NRCC is saying that "Owens raised taxes." That's true to the extent that he voted to raise taxes on certain businesses, high-end health-insurance plans and insurance companies. But Mr. Owens' ad never actually claimed that he didn't raise taxes on small business. He just said he didn't want to.
A difference without a distinction? Perhaps. But notably, the NRCC doesn't give the "small business" qualifier. So their ad is correct to that extent, but employs something of a strawman argument against Mr. Owens' cleverly worded, hair-splitting ad.
And that's politics for you!
We should also address Mr. Owens' retort to Mr. Doheny. Mr. Owens' ad claims that Mr. Doheny worked for companies that fired workers to maximize profits. Mr. Doheny, however, says that he was never directly involved in a decision to fire workers — even though he led the restructuring of companies that shed jobs. More broadly, the Doheny campaign will claim that while some people at the companies Mr. Doheny helped restructure lost their jobs, many more were saved because of his work there.
The ads — first, Owens, then, NRCC, are posted below.

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