MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Did Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken vote for higher taxes “more than 40 times”?

That’s among the claims in a TV ad from Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden called “Missed the Mark.” It features a bumbling Franken lookalike in a suit, driving a Lexus and he repeatedly tries and fails to back a boat into the water.

(That’s a pointed, personal insult in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But we leave that to others.)

“Al Franken keeps missing the mark. Badly,” says the ad, which makes the claim the senator cast “over 40 votes for higher taxes.”

But something’s fishy about it.

That’s a lot of votes for raising taxes during one six-year term in the Senate. Turns out, it’s the kind of fish tale you hear a lot on a boat — and in political ads.

We looked at every vote McFadden says is a higher tax, and some of them are.

Here’s one: Franken voted for the Affordable Care Act, which includes a new $20 billion medical device tax that hits Minnesota high tech medical companies.

Franken now says he wants to repeal it.

Here’s another: Franken voted to pay for reduced student loan rates with a 0.55 percent tax on incomes above $1 million.

But most of the 41 examples McFadden cites are not tax hikes, they’re procedural votes, like a motion to suspend the rules to “repeal the sunset of the so-called marriage penalty tax” and “make the sales tax deduction permanent.”

Or “gotcha” votes — the kind politicians throw out to make each other look bad.

For example, Franken voted against a resolution to ban any budget resolution that includes tax increases while the national unemployment rate is above 5.5 percent percent.

By McFadden’s measure, voting against a Republican tax cut is a tax hike, according to McFadden campaign spokesman Tom Erickson.

“As the ad says, he cast ‘over 40 votes for higher taxes,'” Erickson said. “By that we mean voting in favor of tax increases or against tax cuts.”

But that standard does not meet a common sense political test: You either voted for a tax hike, or you did not.

McFadden’s claim is worth throwing back in the lake.

The Franken for Senate campaign says McFadden’s singling out of specific votes open a window into his beliefs.

“Sen. Franken has voted to end the practice of giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to big oil and gas companies that don’t need it, and to stop companies from getting tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas,” according to Alexandra Fetissoff, a Franken campaign spokesperson.

“Investment banker Mike McFadden’s support for these tax breaks shows just how wrong he is for Minnesota.”

HERE ARE 41 FRANKEN VOTES CITED BY MCFADDEN AS VOTES FOR HIGHER TAXES:

1. Voted against the Lincoln amendment to the health law, which “would limit the annual tax deductions that health insurance companies can take for executive salaries”. (H.R. 3590, Roll Call Vote #365, 12/6/09)

2. Voted against a motion to commit the health care overhaul to the Finance Committee “to provide that no provisions of the measure could result in a federal tax increase for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of less than $200,000 and married individuals with adjusted gross incomes of less than $250,000.” (H.R. 3590, Roll Call Vote #376, 12/15/09)

3. Voted to pass the Affordable Care Act, which requires individuals to have health care coverage or else “be subject to an excise tax” and “employers with 50 or more workers…to provide coverage or pay a fine.” (H.R. 3590, Roll Call Vote #396, 12/24/09)

4. Voted against a motion to “add provisions to reduce certain small-business taxes” to the Budget Act. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #33, 3/3/10)

5. Voted to kill a motion to make sure “no provisions of existing health care law or the underlying measure could result in a federal tax increase for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of less than $200,000 and married individuals with adjusted gross incomes of less than $250,000.” (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #66, 3/24/10)

6. Voted to kill a motion to “strike a provision in the 2010 health care overhaul law that applies a 3.8 percent Medicare tax”. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #78, 3/24/10)

7. Voted to kill an amendment that would “strike a provision in the [ACA] that would establish a 2.3 percent tax on certain medical devices”. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #79, 3/24/10)

8. Voted to kill an amendment that would “exempt certain pediatric assistive devices” from the medical device tax. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #80, 3/24/10)

9. Voted to kill an amendment that would “exempt certain devices used by patients covered by Tricare and Veterans Affairs health programs” from the medical device tax. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #81, 3/24/10)

10. Voted against a motion to “repeal the sunset of the so-called marriage penalty tax” and “make the sales tax deduction permanent”. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #91, 3/25/10)

11. Voted to kill an amendment that would exempt mobile mammography units from federal excise taxes on fuel. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #92, 3/25/10)

12. Voted to kill an amendment that would “strike the sunset for certain small business tax credits that are due to expire”. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #103, 3/25/10)

13. Voted for the health care reconciliation bill, which included “revenue-raising provisions”. (H.R. 4872, Roll Call Vote #105, 3/25/10)

14. Voted to kill an amendment to “exempt certain pediatric assistive devices” from the medical device tax. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #180, 6/9/10)

15. Voted for an amendment to “repeal tax exemptions and deductions for oil and gas companies”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #187, 6/16/10)
16. Voted for an amendment that offset extending the deadline for first-time homebuyers to claim a tax credit by “eliminating the possibility of a tax deduction for punitive damages judgments against businesses”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #191, 6/16/10)

17. Voted against an amendment to “extend several expired tax provisions”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #193, 6/17/10)

18. Voted to kill an effort to “permanently extend the 15 percent capital gains tax rate”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #197, 6/23/10)

19. Voted to kill a motion to “extend several expired tax provisions”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #198, 6/23/10)

20. Voted against an effort for a “permanent repeal of the estate tax”. (H.R. 4213, Roll Call Vote #213, 7/21/10)

21. Voted against an effort to provide “permanent extension of 2010 individual income tax rates”. (H.R. 1586, Roll Call Vote #226, 8/5/10)

22. Voted against an effort to provide “permanent extension of the small-business tax rates in effect in 2010”. (H.R. 1586, Roll Call Vote #227, 8/5/10)

23. Voted to pay for increased Medicaid assistance by “changing foreign tax provisions”. (H.R. 1586, Roll Call Vote #228, 8/5/10)

24. Voted against an effort to “permanently extend 2001 and 2003 tax rates” and to “provide for the permanent higher exemptions from the alternative minimum tax and permanent repeal of the estate tax”. (H.R. 4853, Roll Call Vote #274, 12/15/10)

25. Voted to pay for the repeal of an information reporting requirement by “increasing taxes on the oil and gas industry and making other revenue-raising changes to tax law”. (S. 223, Roll Call Vote #7, 2/2/11)

26. Voted against an amendment that would “reduce the federal tax rates for gasoline and other fuels”. (S. 1813, Roll Call Vote #36, 3/13/12)

27. Voted against an amendment that would “extend energy tax credits” as well as approve Keystone XL. (S. 1813, Roll Call Vote #38, 3/13/12)

28. Voted to “[eliminate] a tax preference for S corporations”. (S. 2343, Roll Call Vote #113, 5/24/12)

29. Voted against an amendment to “extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for all income levels for one year”. (S. 3412, Roll Call Vote #183, 7/25/12)

30. Voted to only extend the 2001 and 2003 tax rates for individuals with income up to $200,000 and married filers with income up to $250,000, rather than for everyone. Also voted to “set tax rates for long-term capital gains and dividends at 20 percent”. (S. 3412, Roll Call Vote #184, 7/25/12)

31. Voted against an amendment to create a reserve fund for revenue neutral tax reform and to strike instructions to “increase revenue levels by $975 billion over the next 10 years”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #49, 3/21/13)

32. Voted against an amendment that would create a 60 vote point of order against any budget that would “include revenue increases while the unemployment rate is above 5.5 percent”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #50, 3/22/13)

33. Voted against an effort to “repeal the 2010 health care overhaul as long as costs are offset without raising new revenue”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #51, 3/22/13)

34. Voted against an amendment that would “repeal tax increases on low and middle-income individuals enacted under the 2010 health care overhaul.” (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #53, 3/22/13)

35. Voted to “provide for a fee on carbon pollution and use revenues collected to reduce the deficit”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #58, 3/22/13)

36. Voted against an effort to “repeal or reduce the federal estate tax”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #66, 3/22/13)

37. Voted against an amendment to “permanently eliminate the federal estate tax as long as the legislation’s costs are offset without raising new revenue”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #67, 3/22/13)

38. Voted against an amendment to repeal part of Obamacare “related to tax deductions for catastrophic medical expenses” and to strike instructions to “increase revenue by $975 billion over the next 10 years”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #71, 3/22/13)

39. Voted to replace the sequester with a “combination of revenue increases and spending cuts” that would “increase revenue by $975 billion over 10 years”. (S. Con. Res. 8, Roll Call Vote #92, 3/23/13)

40. Voted to allow states to require out-of0state retailers with over $1 million in remote sales “to collect sales taxes on items delivered to the state”. (S. 743, Roll Call Vote #113, 5/6/13)

41. Voted to pay for reduced student loan rates with a “0.55 percent tax on individuals whose income exceeds $1 million”. (H.R. 1911, Roll Call Vote #183, 7/24/13)

Pat Kessler

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