With gas prices in California hitting an all-time high last week, Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, is out with a new ad blasting his Democratic opponent, Ami Bera, on gas taxes and other revenue increases. The National Republican Congressional Committee is also airing a television spot claiming Bera supports hiking gas prices to reduce consumption. Here is the text of the ad and an analysis by Torey Van Oot of The Bee Capitol Bureau.
Narrator: If you think gas prices are bad now, just wait until Ami Bera gets his way.
Bera (voice recording): One idea that's certainly out there that we can immediately do is thinking about a gas tax to reduce consumption.
Narrator: But that's not enough for Ami Bera. He supports billions in new taxes. Taxes that are hurting our economy and killing jobs. As if we didn't have enough to worry about. So next time Ami Bera tells you to drive less, tell him to stay home.
Analysis: The ad's claim that Bera supports an increase in the gas tax is based on comments the Elk Grove Democrat made during his 2010 run against Lungren. It fails to acknowledge that he now says he opposes such a proposal.
Bera's remarks were made during a 2010 telephone town hall in response to a question from a voter who advocated for increasing the gas tax.
Bera, whose response included broader calls to think about the nature of consumption in society, told the caller twice that his question was "on the right track."
"We saw, as a doctor, we certainly saw what happened to smoking rates, so that's something that's certainly worth exploring," Bera says in a recording posted online by a former Elk Grove Citizen reporter who covered the call.
He now says he never supported exploring a gas tax as a way to reduce consumption.
The ad's claim that Bera backs billions in new taxes is related to the Democrat's support for the federal health care overhaul.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the law will generate more than $500 billion in new revenue from the time of its implementation to 2019, a figure that includes taxes, fees and penalties for not having coverage contained in the law.
Blasting the health care law as a job killer is a common talking point among Republicans armed with conservative think tank reports, but so far is unsubstantiated. The CBO report is equally speculative on the point. It said some employers who opt to pay a fee rather than provide health care may lay off some minimum wage employees to reduce costs, but they may also hire more part-timers or seasonal workers.