Just how much of a TV political advertisement should you believe?
According to 2nd Congressional District candidates Genevieve Atwood and Wayne Owens, not much.Of course, they're talking about the other guy's ad, not their own.
Last week Atwood, the Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Owens, started running her first TV ad. Owens didn't like the ad's content and objected.
Owens also started running a new TV ad
- he's had others and will have more. Atwood didn't like that one, either, and objected to its content.
Here are the statements made in the ads and the other candidate's responses:
Wayne Owens ad: "As a legislator, Atwood opposed $394 million in funding for Utah schools. She voted to cut the inspection of nursing homes and to kill the state's office for veterans . . . "
Atwood did vote against HB96 on Feb. 2, 1980. The bill passed the House, in which Atwood served, 59 yeas to 13 nays with three absent. "The bill took money out of the Social Services budget - I chaired the Social Services budget committee - and transferred it to the education budget. It was a raid by the education folks who wanted the money but didn't want the responsibility of helping those special need kids. Mine was a protest vote - you take the money, you take the responsibility, also. I voted for the whole education package funding," says Atwood. Atwood voted not to eliminate architectural barriers for nursing homes - the aged and physically handicapped - provided for in HB192 on March 6, 1975. The bill passed 46 yeas to 21 nays and eight absent. The bill required that the State Building Board oversee the nursing home inspection program, and Atwood and others - including Norm Bangerter and Howard Nielson who served in the House at the time - believed that was the wrong agency to conduct such programs, said Atwood.
Atwood voted to abolish the state office of veteran affairs in HB225 in March of 1979. The bill passed 63 yeas to no nays, 12 absent. Former Democratic Gov. Scott Matheson didn't even fund the one-man office in his recommended budget. Various veteran groups supported the elimination.
Atwood's ad: "Do you believe in higher taxes? Wayne Owens does. Owens just voted to raise your taxes by $144 billion. Do you believe senior citizens should pay twice as much for Medicare, while cutting their benefits? Wayne Owens does. Do you believe drug kingpins who commit murder should face the death penalty? Not Wayne Owens. Do you believe your congressman should represent you? Wayne Owens doesn't. He votes the Democratic Party line 96 percent of the time . . . "
Peter Billings Jr., Democratic Party state chairman who answered for Owens, said, "First of all, this (budget) compromise died, so it is unfair to criticize Wayne for something that won't be. That aside, even President Bush and Republican senators Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch recognize the need for increased revenues to solve the budget crisis."
The budget compromise would have raised taxes $50 to $75 a year on middle America, Billings said, while increasing taxes on the rich by 7 percent. "The burden would be fairly shared."
Atwood is inaccurate in saying Owens voted to double Medicare fees. The budget proposal didn't double the payments for seniors, the $75 yearly deductible would go to $100, said Billings. Secondly, the compromise Owens voted in favor of would have harmed seniors' Medicare coverage less than Bush's first budget solution.
Owens did vote for the death penalty for drug kingpins, so Atwood is factually incorrect again, Billings said. However, Owens did vote against an amendment to the crime bill. The amendment extended the death penalty to possession of a certain amount of drug and the death penalty for sharing a drug with someone who ended up dying from that drug. Both are inappropriate, said Billings, because intent to kill is required by the courts as part of any death penalty, and intent to kill clearly wasn't present in the amendment.
Owens may have voted 96 percent of the time with Democratic leadership years ago, but no more, said Billings. That percentage has dropped into the low 80s, and Owens votes with the Republican leadership of the House more than 50 percent of the time.