Democrat Brad Morris hopes to replace incumbent Republican Rep. Alan Nunnelee in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Photo by Courtesy Brad Morris Campaign
On Oct. 25, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (1st District) met Democratic challenger Brad Morris, an Oxford attorney, at the University of Mississippi for a half-hour face-off. Despite the brief time allotted, the men jammed in a lot of information to try to distinguish themselves along ideological lines. The Jackson Free Press fact-checked the candidates' statements.
Rep. Alan Nunnelee
Claim: "The accounting firm Ernst and Young has said if we raise taxes on job creators--which, incidentally we already have the highest tax of any country in the industrialized world on those that create jobs--that means three-quarters of a million people are going to lose their jobs."
Verdict: Partly right. While Ernst and Young did issue a widely cited report earlier this year that stated 750,000 jobs would be lost if the Bush-era tax cuts expire, Nunnelee's facts about the U.S. tax rate are murkier. In March, the U.S. surpassed Japan to become the nation's highest corporate tax rate, 36.8 percent. It is also true, however, that corporate tax receipts as a share of profits remain at the lowest level in the past four decades. Total corporate federal taxes paid stand at around 12.1 percent.
Claim: "For two years, the president had the ability to do whatever he wanted unchecked."
Verdict: Wrong. It's a common GOP response to charges from Democrats that blame the Republican-led Congress for stifling the president's agenda. Republicans like to say that Obama had Democratic majorities during his first two years in office, but failed to take actions that would lift the U.S. out of recession.
But that's not really the whole story. Although Democrats held control of both congressional chambers, they never had a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. After the death of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, Democrats temporarily had 60 seats (for about four months), but late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd was reportedly in poor health and too sick to cast votes. In 2010, Republicans took over in the House.
Claim: "Let's look at history and see what changed between the year 2000, when we were running trillion-dollar surpluses when Bill Clinton left office and today, when we're running trillion-dollar deficits..."
Verdict: Right. The Congressional Budget Office issued a report in January 2001, when President George W. Bush took office and projected budget surpluses of $5.6 trillion until 2011. When Bush left office, in 2008, the CBO found total debt was $10.6 trillion.
Claim: "We fought a two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan ... and we largely paid for both of those wars on credit. Congress did not provide a dime to pay for them until after 2006/2007."
Verdict: Right. Here's what the Brown University-based Cost of War Project had to say about the wars: "Iraq war costs have topped $1 trillion, said Scott Lilly, former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee and now a research fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Neither Bush's war effort in Afghanistan nor Obama's escalation there has been paid for, both analysts noted."
Claim: "The Violence Against Women Act is sitting there unpassed amid partisan squabbles."
Verdict: Partly right. Morris is referring to the VAWA reauthorization bill, which the Senate passed in May. However, the House passed its own version that did not include protections contained in the Senate bill for gay, immigrant, American Indian and student victims. Critics of the House plan also said the bill rolled back rights of immigrant women, including for unauthorized immigrants. Lawmakers have not reconciled the differences between the two versions.