Obama's Tax Ad Distorts Heritage Foundation Analysis

     Some people might have done a double-take when they saw an Obama TV ad that aired during primetime television newscasts Oct. 28 suggesting the conservative Heritage Foundation endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s tax proposals.

     “Even leading conservatives say Obama’s plan is better for the middle class,” the announcer in the ad said, as a quote from an unnamed Heritage Foundation analyst was displayed on the screen, citing the Aug. 15 New York Sun:

“…the middle class would likely pay less under Mr. Obama’s plan…”

     The statement in the ad attributed to the conservative think tank was a quote from a New York Sun article attributed to Rea S. Hederman Jr., senior policy analyst and the assistant director at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. However, selective editing of the quote misrepresented Hederman’s views, according to a letter Heritage lawyer Alan P. Dye sent the Obama campaign.

     “The print ad on your Website as well as your ad entitled ‘Try This’ reference a quote from policy analyst Rea Hederman,” Dye wrote. “In fact, Mr. Hederman never said what is quoted there. Rather, the words you quote are from a New York Sun reporter who interviewed Mr. Hederman and summarized his views erroneously.”

     According to Dye’s letter, Hederman said Obama’s tax proposal would be bad for the middle class and the use of a paraphrased quote by Sun reporter Russell Berman was a blatant attempt by the Obama campaign to mislead viewers.

     “That the reporter’s summary is erroneous is evident from the actual quotes from Mr. Hederman presented in the article, which make it quite clear that Mr. Hederman believes your tax plan would be bad not only for the country, but for the middle class,” Dye continued. “By omitting the direct quotes from Heritage that are contained in the article and attributing to Heritage a conflicting statement not made by its analyst, the advertisement appears to be an intentional attempt to mislead.”

     The entire passage from the misleading Obama advertisement read as follows:

“Mr. Hederman said the middle class would likely pay less under Mr. Obama's plan than Mr. McCain’s but that the Democrat was excessively reliant on complicated tax breaks that would make the tax code more confusing. ‘Instead of a grab bag of tax credits, lower the marginal rates,’ Mr. Hederman said.”

     During the day of Oct. 28, The Heritage Foundation requested that the Obama campaign pull the ad immediately, however it was still aired during the Oct. 28 broadcasts of ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” and “NBC Nightly News.”

    “The Heritage Foundation believes that your advertisements’ use of its name is not only not a fair use of its intellectual property, but is an intentional attempt to mislead and misinform voters,” Dye wrote. “As a responsible candidate, you should insist that your campaign cease to run these false advertisements immediately.”