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Erik Paulsen Doubles Down on False Claims in MPR Debate
Paulsen repeats already-debunked lies and comes up with new ones, too
Throughout the course of today’s Third District Congressional debate between businessman Dean Phillips and Congressman Erik Paulsen, Paulsen doubled down on claims that are verifiably false, repeatedly standing by the negativity and dishonest attacks that have defined his campaign — and even adding new false claims to the mix.
Phillips, by contrast, offered voters a new way forward, pointing to his more than 65,000 individual contributors, 1,500 volunteers, and supporters from across the political spectrum, all working together to end the culture of corruption in Washington and restore decency and truth to our political discourse.
Here are just some of the falsehoods uttered by Erik Paulsen in the hour-long debate:
Q. What difference does it make whether or not Phillips provided healthcare to his employees?
PAULSEN: “It’s an area where Dean has been a hypocrite. It’s been fact-checked by WCCO and KARE-11. He said healthcare is a moral right but didn’t provide it. It was a lie. That was fact-checked. We’re pointing that out.”
THE TRUTH: KARE-11 and WCCO did fact-check Paulsen’s claims that Phillips doesn’t provide healthcare to his full-time employees. And both networks said those claims were FALSE.
Q. Isn’t the issue, though, what is Congress going to do? What would you do to make healthcare more available to the people?
PAULSEN: “He mentioned pre-existing conditions. The claim that I don’t support pre-existing conditions is false. The bill I voted for clearly states that nothing in this act will limit access to health access to individuals with pre-existing conditions.”
THE TRUTH: This claim has already been rated MOSTLY FALSE by PolitiFact.
Q. Back to the ads…you had the “Bigfoot” ad. Do you think voters don’t know who Erik Paulsen is?
PAULSEN: “One thing I’ll mention is being accessible is key to being effective, I have a strong representation. Twenty-three town-hall meetings in the last year and a half. People don’t want to come and be yelled at, they want a voice. Two hundred forty-nine school visits; 60+ community forums. You would be hard-pressed to find an individual who can’t meet with me.”
THE TRUTH: Here again, both KARE-11 and WCCO fact-checked the “Bigfoot” ad and found the claims that Paulsen rarely appears in public to be TRUE and SOMEWHAT TRUE. The only way to guarantee a meeting with Congressman Paulsen is to write a big check and score an invitation to his exclusive Eagle’s Club.
Q. Which two ads for your campaign give the best insight as to why they should vote for you?
PAULSEN: Given the fact that nearly single ad Congressman Paulsen is running is a negative attack filled with dishonest claims, Paulsen was able to point to just one — his very first ad — saying: “It’s important to highlight that you’ll stand up to your own party.”
THE TRUTH: Erik Paulsen has voted with Donald Trump 98% of the time in Congress, despite the fact that Trump received just 41% of the vote in his district two years ago.
Q. Let me talk about the tax bill…Congressman Paulsen, you helped write that deal.
PAULSEN: “The 83% figure is false. It’s been fact-checked. Most benefits go to the middle class.”
THE TRUTH: Because tax cuts for the middle class will eventually expire, it is true that 83% of the benefits will go to the top 1% of taxpayers.
Q. On climate change, “what, specifically, would you do?”
PAULSEN: “We may be like-minded on this. This is an issue of concern. It’s why I’m in the Climate Solutions Caucus. I care deeply about conservation…. My solution is this: we need to come up with additional resources, right, as bipartisan folks in Congress — whether it’s the Climate Solutions Caucus or others — to come up with proposals to make progress on this issue.”
THE TRUTH: Not only did Congressman Paulsen have exactly zero climate change solutions to offer in the course of the debate, he’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from energy interests, and his voting record has earned him 16% ratings from both Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters. Both organizations have endorsed Dean Phillips.
Q. Responding to Phillips on special-interest money in politics:
PAULSEN: “You’re a hypocrite on this issue, too. You welcome money from PACs.”
THE TRUTH: As the moderator, Mike Mulcahy, pointed out, coordination with outside independent-expenditure groups is illegal. In April of this year, Dean offered Congressman Paulsen to join him in signing The Minnesota Way pledge, which would have precluded all PAC money and all self-funding, and would have limited or even eliminated spending from outside groups — using the same principles as the People’s Pledge that Congressman Paulsen offered Terri Bonoff just two years ago.
Q. Should the government make new gun laws?
PAULSEN: “I’ve focused on things we can actually find solutions to.”
THE TRUTH: The NRA, which has contributed over $21,000 to Congressman Paulsen, just upgraded his rating from an A- to an A because he supports their agenda in Congress, including opposing universal background checks despite overwhelming public support.
Q. Why not force Trump to release his tax returns?
PAULSEN: “That’s not something we can do.”
THE TRUTH: The Wall Street Journal reported just this week that, under the tax code, the Ways and Means chairman can demand and receive any taxpayer’s records. Republicans who sit on the Ways and Means Committee, like Congressman Paulsen, have blocked more than a dozen votes to use Congress’s existing authority to obtain President Trump’s tax returns since his inauguration.
Q: Responding to Phillips’s concerns about cutting earned benefits to pay for tax cuts:
PAULSEN: “I never said I would attack Medicare or Social Security.”
THE TRUTH: GOP leadership in Washington, with whom Congressman Paulsen votes nearly 100% of the time despite calling himself a moderate, plans to pay for tax cuts by cutting earned benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Congressman Paulsen’s closing statement:
PAULSEN: “In a highly challenging and politically charged environment, I’m one of those members of Congress that has been able to work across the aisle and get things done.”
THE TRUTH: Congressman Paulsen has been bought and sold by special interests, votes with the Trump agenda 98% of the time, is tied as the second least likely member of Congress to get a bill passed out of committee, and is tied as the second least likely to support bills that improve government transparency, accountability and effectiveness.