Sly about Social Security 

Voter beware: As the Taylor-Baucus senate race attack ads come to a creative crescendo, sometimes their creative license can go so far as to distort the truth.

They’ve attacked each other over who’s better buddies with President Bush, who’s better buddies with Montana farmers and of course, tax hikes. Lately, a prominent theme in the never-ending negative TV ads is the resulting disaster to Montana’s seniors if Social Security was to be tampered with.

Sen. Max Baucus claims opponent Mike Taylor supports President Bush’s plan that “moves $1 trillion out of Social Security and cuts guaranteed benefits.” A Taylor ad states that “Baucus has repeatedly voted to spend Social Security money on other government programs” and “voted to increase taxes on seniors’ benefits by 70 percent.”

At one time Baucus’ ad was true and on some level Taylor’s ad is true. However, both are misleading.

At one point, several months ago, Taylor went on record supporting the Bush plan. He has since come out against the plan. During a September debate in Great Falls Taylor told Baucus of his current stance.

Despite the fact the Baucus was told in person of Taylor’s views on the issue, the Friends of Max Baucus ran the ad linking Taylor to Bush’s Social Security plan anyway and continues to run it.

Baucus press secretary Barrett Kaiser had only this enigmatic comment of Taylor’s stance and their ads: “He’s desperately trying to give himself a makeover, but facts are facts.”

While the quibble over the Baucus ad is mostly a case of “he said, he said,” the senator’s congressional voting record is a matter of irrefutable fact.

It is true that Baucus has voted to increase taxes on seniors’ benefits, but it is deceptive to portray him as an enemy of Social Security. The tax vote never impacted all seniors’ benefits. Instead it raised taxes for the richest 13 percent of seniors but also attempted to stimulate the economy.

This vote made it possible for the Bush tax cut, which provided a broad tax relief for all Montanans, and eliminated the practice of dipping into the Social Security trust fund, according to a Baucus press release.

So if they are both going to continue to mislead the public with nasty ads, then who’s a voter to trust?

While there are too many ads for one paper to run through the lie detector, with minimal effort readers can find out the truth. For candidates voting records, issue positions, campaign finances and biographical information go to www.mtvoters.org or www.vote-smart.org and click on “candidates, issues and much more.”

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