April 19, 2024

The airwaves are flooded with campaign ads, and we’ve got to persevere through them for another month. 
One ad caught our eye recently because in a sea of ads that are marked – often defined – by untruths and misrepresentations, it was notable for how many of them were packed into 30 seconds.
Today we fact check the ad Mandela Barnes calls “Crumbs.”
Barnes is off to a ‘false’ start here. 
Public documents and multiple news stories – and Barnes’s own statements – have revealed Barnes’ repeated property tax delinquencies, and failure to file an income tax return one year:
Barnes, on video and in print, has made various, sometimes clearly false claims about his failure to pay:
Barnes is on safer ground with this statement, although even this is misdirection.  Barnes has paid back his repeatedly delinquent taxes and the fines that accumulated over the lengthy periods he refused to pay.
However the criticism Barnes faces is not for a current delinquency, but for a repeated pattern of delinquency in paying any share of his own taxes while at the same time supporting and campaigning for tax hikes because other people don’t pay “their fair share.”
Here Barnes, alluding to apparently desperate financial struggles that forced him to choose between food and paying taxes owed on one of his two homes, casts peanut butter as the food of the destitute as he makes a sandwich out of brand name Jif, not a less expensive generic. 
In the past year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, the price of peanut butter is skyrocketing along with other groceries, forced up by Bidenflation policies Barnes supports. In 2022 so far, the price of peanut butter has increased nearly 9%, following a more than 6% increase in 2021. But regardless of whether the policies Barnes supports have driven up the cost of groceries including peanut butter, making it harder for families to manage their budgets, the question here is whether Barnes was as poverty-stricken as he seems to claim.
Let’s look at the facts:
The facts paint a picture of a single, able-bodied young man, with no dependents, flush enough with cash to buy 2 homes (one paid in full with cash) inside 16 months, no student loan debt, hefty savings, donors financing expenses of more than a grand a month, and savvy enough to get on welfare so the taxpayers would foot the bill for his health care. 
This is not the picture of poverty, or even of the struggling middle class; it’s a picture of affluence and entitlement. 
There is no shame in being financially secure, as Barnes clearly is. There’s nothing wrong with having access to a good deal of family money and having no debt. But a person in such an enviable position masquerading as impoverished is not only dishonest, but he demeans those who truly face financial difficulties.
Barnes hides his affluence while faking poverty as a means to connect with an audience who wishes they were so lucky, and to excuse blowing off paying his fair share of taxes and letting the less fortunate pick up his slack.
Saying he supports “a” middle class tax cut is accurate, but misleading at best. Barnes has supported, and voted for, massive tax hikes that would have taken money out of the pockets of Wisconsinites at every income level, including middle class taxpayers.
It’s hard to say who Barnes believes makes up the middle class – apparently it does not include farmers, people who pay their property taxes or purchase gasoline – but his record shows he supports higher taxes, and higher government spending. And that means less in the pockets of taxpayers and more in the pockets of the government.
Barnes has clearly watched others work hard. 
He repeatedly references his father who worked third shift, and his mom who worked in MPS, and it is clear his family worked hard to provide him opportunities that many don’t have, or opportunities Barnes would deny others: 
And in spite of his calls to defund the police, a position Barnes has since clarified to say means he would ‘simply take funding away from police budgets to use for other things,’ (a distinction without a difference the mainstream media has given him a pass on) he has obviously also watched how hard the taxpayer-funded police officers assigned to his personal detail work.  
Barnes has spent a lifetime watching people work hard to provide him opportunities and safety. But he doesn’t seem to appreciate the many taxpayers who have much less than he does, but worked hard to pay to provide him with welfare benefits when he chose not to work. And they now fund an extremely high level of police protection for him, while he would cut funding for police to protect them in their communities.
Again, Barnes is deliberately, knowingly misleading, falsely characterizing the tax plan he references.
Even Politifact has labeled the “loophole” narrative false, describing the tax cut Johnson supported as benefitting typically “small, family owned businesses.” 
Far from benefiting only Johnson and a couple donors, the proposal benefitted more than 95% of the nations’ 26 million businesses, almost all of which are small according to the Brookings institute.
Barnes may think this  falsehood is good spin, but the truth is because of Ron Johnson’s effort, tens of millions of middle class families working hard to make a living from their small business received tax relief that otherwise would have gone only to corporations. The fact is:
There is much to unpack in this well-produced folksy ad chock-a-block full of falsehoods about the policy positions, background, and integrity of both candidates.  We have another month to go, and if things get worse from here, it’s impossible to imagine what we will be seeing in a few weeks.


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