Welcome to Ad Watch, in which the Bangor Daily News’ political team breaks down who is behind political ads you’re seeing and whether what they are saying is true.
An ad from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign claims House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, wants to raise taxes on 90 percent of Maine families. It is based on a narrow interpretation of Gideon’s statements that does not account for her stated desire to continue some tax breaks.
The ads: Susan Collins goes after Sara Gideon on taxes
Who is behind it?
This ad is from Collins’ campaign, which has spent about $468,000 on Facebook ads across two pages this cycle, according to data from the site. That includes about $800 on two ads targeting Gideon on taxes over the past few weeks, which generated less than 100,000 impressions.
Gideon has raised nearly $24 million this cycle, while Collins has raised $16.7 million. You can follow campaigns’ full raising and spending in the U.S. Senate race, which also features independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn, with us here.
The major claims, with context
That ad claims that Gideon’s tax plan would raise income taxes on 90 percent of Maine families, cut tax credits for single mothers earning less than $35,000 per year and raise income taxes by $734 per Maine family.
That is based on Gideon’s statements that she would vote to roll back a 2017 Republican tax bill that has already been a source of controversy in the U.S. Senate race. In an earlier fact check, we noted that an outside group was incorrect to claim that Collins’ vote for the bill had made many Mainers pay more. Most Maine families initially got a tax cut from the bill.
The 2017 tax law was complicated, eliminating some deductions and creating new ones. Whether a low-income single parent would lose tax credits if the law was repealed depends on their income (parents who earn less than $30,000 do not qualify for full tax credits under the law right now, for example) and how many children they have, among other factors. Some of the tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners are also set to expire in the coming years.
Because most Mainers got a tax cut from the bill, Collins’ campaign is correct that a full repeal of the law with no replacement would increase taxes on most Maine families in the short term. But a repeal of the law with no replacement does not appear to be the position Gideon supports.
In a Gideon campaign ad cited by the Collins’ campaign as evidence that the Freeport Democrat will raise taxes, Gideon says she’ll “vote to get rid of the Trump tax cuts and give them to the middle class.” Her campaign website says she “will work to roll back the Trump tax cuts and make sure that tax breaks are going to hardworking families in Maine, not corporations and the wealthiest individuals.”
Gideon has not laid out specifics of her plan. But Collins’ claim that she would increase taxes for most Maine families are based only on her saying that she would repeal the Trump tax cuts while ignoring the tax breaks she discusses in the same sentence.