U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine's 2nd District, speaks to the Rotary Club of Bangor at its weekly Tuesday meeting at the Richard Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University on Aug. 16. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A new ad criticizing Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District misleads on the congressman’s stance on the Inflation Reduction Act and the measure itself.

We took a look at some of the inaccuracies in the ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a group aligned with Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, which mirrors national attacks on the measure but adds a Maine spin to them.

What Golden supported

The ad accuses Golden, a Democrat, of going back on his word about the Inflation Reduction Act, a climate, tax, health care and deficit reduction package that Golden voted for last month.

But it uses a soundbite about inflation from a Golden advertisement posted on his Youtube channel on Aug. 9 to imply that Golden voted for the Inflation Reduction Act days after saying it would make inflation worse.

While Golden was referring to bucking his party on spending in that ad, he was not referencing the Inflation Reduction Act but other spending bills he voted against.

As Golden says the inflation line in the ad, there is a visual reference to a 2021 article about his opposition to the Build Back Better plan, a $3.5 trillion spending package championed by President Joe Biden that Golden recently called “crazy” for its level of spending.

Golden was the only Democrat to oppose Build Back Better in the House. He was also the only Democrat in either chamber to vote against final passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that Golden said contained too much unnecessary spending.

While he opposed those high-profile spending bills, he voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill last year, though that received significantly more bipartisan support than other major legislation under Biden. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was one of its Republican architects.

The bill is not expected to drive or significantly drop inflation.

While the Republican ad argues that the Inflation Reduction Act will make inflation worse, the general consensus from experts is that it will neither increase nor decrease inflation in a substantial way.

An analysis from economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that the bill would “very slightly” increase inflation until 2024 before decreasing it after.

Many experts do believe that the American Rescue Plan, one of the measures Golden opposed, contributed to inflation. Golden said so when speaking to the Bangor Rotary Club earlier this month, though he said it wasn’t the only reason for soaring inflation.

The bill does not “nearly double” the IRS.

The ad repeats exaggerated claims from high profile Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that the Inflation Reduction Act adds 87,000 new IRS agents. While the bill is expected to increase funding for the IRS by nearly $80 billion over the next decade, to say that it will create an “army” of new agents to “nearly double” the agency is misleading.

Opponents of the act got that number from a report of the U.S. Treasury Department from May 2021, which said that an investment of that magnitude would likely add around 87,000 new employees over 10 years. But more than half of IRS employees working in enforcement are currently eligible to retire, with around 50,000 employees expected to do so over the next five years.

That adds up to a much smaller net gain than the 87,000 figure implies.

There are no direct tax hikes on most Mainers.

The ad says the Inflation Reduction Act will “raise taxes on nearly every Mainer,” but the bill is targeted toward increasing taxes on the wealthy. It is not expected to directly increase taxes for households making less than $400,000 a year.

The claim stems from the fact that there could be indirect effects on families who make less, though it does not account for the benefits in the bill directed at Americans middle-class and lower, including health care subsidies and tax rebates. Most experts believe they would offset any of those indirect taxes.

Around 5 percent of Maine households — nearly 28,000 total — make $200,000 or more, according to 2020 American Community Survey data, so an even smaller share brings in $400,000 or more.