Politics & Policy

Thanks, Senator Obama!

My transition from wonk to star.

The e-mails started arriving Monday night. I, a low-key, numbers-crunching policy wonk, had become a star, an overnight sensation. All thanks to a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for Senator Barack Obama.

It came as a bit of a surprise. Especially since, 12 days earlier, I had published an analysis of the two candidates’ tax plans showing that his rival’s plan would produce more economic growth.

#ad#Intrigued, I searched the web for a video of the ad. There it was, under the nifty title of “Try This.” A quick click and, sure enough, they’re playing my name. According to the announcer, I believe the middle class would be better off under the Obama tax plan.

This was news to me. I felt like a film critic whose pan of Saw V shows up in an advertisement touting the gore-fest as “better than E. T.

Moving quickly to the Obama campaign website, I found the same claim in print. Here, words which never passed my lips appeared in quotation marks. Suddenly, it clicked. I know those words! But two and a half months earlier, a reporter at the New York Sun wrote a story quoting me. They were his words, not mine.

Yet, the words seemed somehow incomplete. Wasn’t there, perhaps, something more in that sentence? Something that might, you know, accurately portray my views?

A little more Googling to find the original story and, yep, there was more. Though the ad ended the non-quote with a period, it should have used an ellipsis. Oddly enough, the rest of the sentence which the ad “disappeared” criticized the Obama tax plan. The article’s very next sentence — which actually contains a quote from me! — presented a very helpful suggestion as how to Sen. Obama could fix his tax plan.

Of course I’m flattered that the Obama campaign thinks so highly of me that they insist on giving me national exposure. I just wish they had called me first, to verify the information in the ad. I imagine they’re pretty embarrassed now that The Heritage Foundation’s lawyer has notified them that their advertisement is false.

In fact, the campaign must be feeling really sheepish about their gaffe. They haven’t worked up the nerve to apologize to me, or even respond to our lawyer’s letter. Perhaps they’re still debating how to set the record straight.

Here’s a suggestion: just run ads, buy for buy, directing viewers to the Heritage Foundation report that presents my real findings of how the two candidates’ tax plans would affect the middle class, and all other Americans as well. (Note to campaign: It’s here.)

For campaign staffers too busy to click, let me summarize the key findings: Sen. McCain’s plan would produce twice as many jobs as Sen. Obama’s plan, and leave middle-class families with, on average, $1,500 more in after-tax disposable income. And you can quote me on that.

— Rea Hederman is senior policy analyst in the Heritage Foundations Center for Data Analysis.

Rea Hederman — Rea Hederman is the executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute.

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