Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PolitiFact consistent on congressional pay raises: prefers Democrats

Monday's ruling by PolitiFact Ohio on a claim from the Josh Mandel senate campaign brought back some memories.

Mandel accused incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown of voting himself six pay raises.  PolitiFact Ohio was all over it.  PolitiFact Ohio dove into the weeds to discover that since 1989 congressional pay raises occur automatically without a vote.

PolitiFact's Tom Feran:
Because the pay raises are essentially automatic, the only thing Congress can do is vote to stop them. There are roll call votes on whether members of Congress were willing to hear amendments to suspend their pay increases. And it is those procedural votes that the Mandel ad relies on for support.
PolitiFact notes that in two of the six cases Mandel cites, Brown was against the pay raise after he was for it.  I believe that one's called a "reverse Kerry."

PolitiFact Ohio says the point is that members of Congress cannot raise their own pay because the pay raises only take effect when the next Congress takes office.  PolitiFact Ohio rates the Mandel claim "False."

Now, why did this pay raise thing bring back memories?

The Florida Democratic Party tried much the same tactic on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum.  The FDP said McCollum voted four times to raise his own pay, along with naming the amount of McCollum's congressional pension.  The ruling from PolitiFact Florida?  "True."

Ace PolitiFact journalist Louis Jacobson bought it hook, line and sinker:
Both claims are supported by the evidence, so we're assigning it a rating of True.
There are a few differences between the claims, to be sure, but two things are equally sure:  If the PolitiFact Ohio rating is accurate then the PolitiFact Florida rating is wrong.  And if the PolitiFact Florida rating is accurate then the PolitiFact Ohio rating is wrong.

Welcome to the wonderful world of PolitiFact fact checking.

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