Posted by | October 6, 2010 15:40 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

In 1988, it was George H.W. Bush’s  “Willie Horton” ad. In 1990, it was Jesse Helms’ infamous  “Hands” ad.  In 2006, Bob Corker launched his “Harold, Call Me” ad. In 2010, we have Sharron Angle’s race-baiting “Thanks, Pal.” All are classic examples of conservative, fear-based dirty politics.  While the racial component is clearly offensive, it is also true that these ads have, in the past, unfortunately, worked. It remains to be seen whether Sharron Angle will be successful this year; but in the state with the highest unemployment in the country, this kind of racial scapegoating seems likely to have some effect.

It’s ugly, it’s low, and for a candidate who would have us believe she’s nothing like your typical politician, it’s all too typical. It also happens to be entirely false. Let’s fact-check the claims made about Harry Reid in Ms. Angle’s ad:

“Give special tax breaks to illegal aliens”

Sorry, but no. Angle refers to the Earned Income Tax Credit, but Reid has never suggested extending this credit to undocumented immigrants. When they become legal US citizens, then they would be eligible, but not until. Sharron Angle is stretching here to connect the proposed path to citizenship of the 2006 & 2007 immigration bills to a “special” tax break for illegals. In fact, the amendment Reid put forth in 2007 clarified the EITC.

“Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, may be construed to modify any provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which prohibits illegal aliens from qualifying for the earned income tax credit under section 32 of such Code.”

Next claim, Ms. Angle?

“Give Social Security benefits to illegals

You guessed it, also false. In this case, Angle points to Reid’s vote against Sen. John Ensign’s amendments to both the 2006 and 2007 bills. Ensign’s amendment would have prevented someone living here legally from receiving Social Security credits for work done while that person was living in the country illegally. finds:

The key phrase in that sentence is living here legally. Reid did not propose giving Social Security to illegal immigrants until and unless they are living here legally and have paid into the system long enough to become eligible for benefits.

Finally, the ad claims that Harry Reid is fighting for a program that will:

“Give preferred college tuition rates to none-other-than illegal aliens”

This is a reference to Reid’s support for the DREAM Act which would allow some undocumented students and military service members to gain legal status. It would also allow states to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students by repealing a 1996 ban on benefits for illegal immigrants.

We’re talking about allowing a state to decide if it would like to grant in-state tuition rates to students who have lived the majority of their young lives in the US, and have already successfully completed high school.  In most states, the residency requirement for in-state tuition is 12 months. In fact, we’re talking about students that have lived here at least that long. In-state tuition is not a “preferred” rate for a state resident.

Things are getting ugly in Nevada. Sharron Angle is within striking distance of Harry Reid, and it seems her campaign has decided it will stop at nothing, no matter how sleazy or deceptive, to win. She may like to think she’s not like other Republicans, but history says otherwise.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.