Fact Check: NextGen Climate claims Ernst’s tax pledge helps offshore companies

Introduction

“Ernst’s Pledge: Protects tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

Source of claim

TV ad by NextGen Climate Action Committee

Analysis

NextGen’s minute-long ad attacking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst started airing this week. The organization founded by hedge fund manager and environmentalist Ted Steyer is focused on “bringing climate change to the forefront of American politics.”

The ad shows two businessmen sitting a wood-paneled room chuckling about political candidates who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a document Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) has offered to candidates for federal office since 1987.

Signers pledge to “oppose efforts to increase marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses” and “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

ATR announced July 18, 2013, that Ernst had joined the list of candidates and office holders — almost exclusively Republicans — who have signed the pledge.

The ad claims the pledge “protects tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

As an example of this, NextGen said ATR opposed the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act of 2010 because the measures were funded, in part, with $9.8 billion saved by restricting ways multinational companies could claim the foreign tax credit.

In an Aug. 9, 2010, statement, ATR described the funding of the bill as “tax increases on U.S. employees doing business overseas” and called on lawmakers who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to vote against the legislation.

“Because this bill is a NET INCOME TAX HIKE, it violates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that 174 Congressmen have made to their constituents and the American people,” the 2010 statement said.

Ernst wasn’t in federal office in 2010 and she didn’t sign the pledge until three years later. But she has promised to vote with ATR on similar issues in the future, should she win a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Conclusion

Several Democrat-leaning organizations have used similar attack ads in recent years, attempting to link Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers to jobs leaving the United States.

PolitiFact made a good argument in 2010 that because the pledge allows lawmakers to come up with another tax reduction to offset a closed loophole or discontinued tax break, signing the pledge doesn’t prevent a lawmaker from opposing a tax break for an offshore company.

Part of the stated purpose of the pledge is to keep signers from eliminating tax breaks. While it’s possible for a lawmaker to swap out one tax break for another, the intended result is no net increase in taxes for individuals or businesses -- including companies that may move some operations overseas.

There’s at least one example of pledge signers being pressured to oppose legislation that restricted tax breaks for multinational companies. We score this claim mostly true.

Sources

Taxpayer Protection Pledge

ATR news release about Ernst pledge signing

Summary of bill to stop tax breaks for offshore companies

ATR statement about opposing bill to stop tax breaks

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