BOSTON - When congressional Democrats pushed through President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March of last year, economists agree, it helped fuel the inflation we're suffering through today.
And in a surge of lookalike attack ads in swing states around the country, the right-wing dark money group One Nation America has been trying to make those Democrats pay.
In Georgia: "Senator Raphael Warnock voted to allow millions in COVID relief money to be spent on frivolous projects in other states, building a fancy resort in Florida, a soccer stadium in New Jersey."
In Nevada: "Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto voted to allow hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief funds to be wasted."
And now they're coming for New Hampshire incumbent Maggie Hassan, with an ad that cites the same litany of sketchy line items and claims: "This reckless spending has triggered the worst inflation in 40 years."
Hassan voted for ARPA, no doubt about that. Every Democrat in the Senate did. But does the ad's claim of frivolous spending fueling inflation stand up to the truth test?
According to a summary from the National Council of State Legislatures, most of the money did not go to resorts and soccer stadiums. In fact, less than 2 percent of the funds went to the arts or tourism. The largest share went to state and local governments and, as we reported last December, Massachusetts was among many states where projects of dubious merit were funded.
But when the website Politifact surveyed economists across the political spectrum recently, they agreed that while the rescue plan stimulus contributed to the surge of inflation, it shares blame with a variety of other factors. These include shocks to the global economic order, disrupted supply chains and the economic damage caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
So half-truth seems an appropriate description of those attack ads.
Is that still enough to cause political problems for Hassan and other Democrats?
You bet it is. Inflation is politically toxic, and that's why you've seen Hassan running ads all summer branding herself as a champion of fiscal responsibility.
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