Ad Watch: Igor Birman fills web video with attacks new and old

Republican Igor Birman has released what can best be described as a “kitchen sink” Web advertisement, unleashing a cascade of attacks meant to depict intraparty rival Doug Ose as too liberal to represent the suburban district held by Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.

Ose, a former three-term congressman, has countered the assertions with television, radio and mail ads of his own meant to burnish his conservative credentials.

Following is the text of the nearly two-minute video released by Birman, in which most charges are followed by a video clip of Ose saying “Past behavior is the best indication of future behavior.” Christopher Cadelago of The Bee Capitol Bureau analyzes the spot.

Narrator: Doug Ose wants voters to judge him on his record in Congress.

Ose: What I have done to separate myself is the important thing because past behavior is the best indication of future behavior.

Narrator: But what was that record? Doug Ose voted for higher taxes.

He voted for trillions in new spending. Ose voted to increase the debt ceiling by trillions.

He even voted for billions in wasteful earmark spending.

Doug Ose supported giving illegal immigrants Social Security benefits.

On the Second Amendment, Ose received a D from the NRA.

In fact, Doug Ose was recognized as one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress. Higher taxes. Bigger government. More debt. Yes to earmarks. Pro-illegal immigration. Anti-Second Amendment.

Judge Doug Ose on his record. That record is clear: Doug Ose is a liberal.

Analysis: Let’s go line by line because there are a number of charges here.

Ose did vote against amendments to legislation to lower taxes and for a Democratic amendment to limit the scope of tax cuts provided by House Republicans. However, Ose appears to have never voted to raise taxes, as the Web video strongly implies, and he repeatedly supported GOP-backed tax cuts. The opening barb is somewhat misleading.

On the issue of new spending, Ose supported the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The law created Medicare Part D, which subsidizes the cost of prescription drugs, and was estimated to cost more than $950 billion from 2011 to 2020, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Its report stated costs could soar past $7 trillion in 75 years. Ose also supported spending $78 billion in emergency funds for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than $4 billion for homeland security and $3.2 billion for U.S. airlines to cover security costs. The statement is true.

Ose served in the Republican-led House. In June 2002, he voted to increase the debt ceiling by $450 billion, boosting the nation’s limit to $6.4 trillion from $5.95 trillion. The bill to keep the government running was signed by President George W. Bush the following day. The next year, a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $984 billion, to nearly $7.4 trillion, was incorporated into a procedural vote to bring the budget to the floor and passed with Ose’s support. Ose opposed raising the debt limit to $8.2 trillion from $7.4 trillion in 2004. Birman’s statement is true.

It’s true that Ose voted for billions of dollars in spending by way of earmarks. In one example highlighted by Birman, Ose opposed repealing federal funds for producers of wool and mohair. Earmarks, or pork, may incite unrest today, but the spending was par for the course for both parties when Ose served from 1999 and 2005, and was a major way for representatives to pump money into their districts. Ose’s personal requests included money for flood protection, highway improvements and public safety, none of which he believes was “wasteful.” Birman’s statement lacks context and is misleading.

The claim about illegal immigrants was an argument used by Birman’s boss, Rep. Tom McClintock, against Ose in the 2008 primary. The campaign attack is based on a 2004 vote by Ose against amending an agreement between Bush and Mexico on pensions for U.S. workers in Mexico and Mexican workers in the U.S. As explained in a 2003 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, the so-called totalization agreement was expected to increase the number of unauthorized Mexican workers and family members eligible for Social Security benefits. But that same report also noted that some illegal immigrants could already receive Social Security benefits under certain circumstances, undercutting Birman’s argument. Also, Ose was not alone in voting down the failed amendment. On the Republican side, he was joined by now-House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Darrell Issa. The statement is misleading.

The National Rifle Association gave Ose a D-plus, not a D. Ose, a self-described gun owner and member of the NRA, supports instant background checks.

Ose’s voting patterns have been parsed by scores of organizations. The National Journal, a nonpartisan publication in Washington, placed Ose in the most liberal quartile of House Republicans in 2004. The American Conservative Union, over his six years in office, gave him a 78, propelling him into the bottom 25 percent of the House GOP on issues selected by the organization. The scores indicate that Ose is not a conservative Republican.

Overall, Ose is far from a liberal. The statement is not true.