Elderly ladies are portrayed sitting at a kitchen table in Republican 2nd Congressional District hopeful Kevin Raye’s latest campaign ad, and they aren’t fans of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, his challenger.  

They aren’t that well-informed, either. The ad’s statements of fact, taken together, make the ad half-true.

The actresses hit Michaud on a taxpayer-funded car lease that created controversy earlier in the year, his support of President Obama’s health care reform and a vote he made that would have raised the tax on retirement dividends.  Another claim, that Michaud voted against small businesses and farmers, is an interpretation of votes collected by a group endorsing Raye, which we aren’t checking.

“Now, we’re paying almost $800 a month for his car lease.”

This claim is legitimate. In August, the Portland Press Herald published a list of congresspeople leasing in-district vehicles in 2011.

Michaud was on it, paying $795 per month for a lease. He was one of 82 representatives on the list.  

Rules for the reimbursable car leases are relatively specific. Only the congressperson and his or her staff are allowed to drive the car, which must meet certain emissions standards. Certain expenses related to driving the car can also be reimbursed, including gas, maintenance, wear and tear and registration fees.  

Peter Chandler, Michaud’s Washington chief of staff, said the congressman still has the lease, which the office determined was a cheaper way of paying for in-district transportation than any other way. He has said that the lease is cheaper than reimbursing Michaud and a staff member for mileage would be. 

Verdict: Michaud maintains the lease. While it doesn’t look uncommon or improper, it’s a fact.  

We rate this statement true.  

“Michaud also voted for Obamacare that cuts our Medicare.”  

No matter how much Republicans — from presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Raye — suggest the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare benefits, it won’t be genuine. It slows future growth in the program and adds some new benefits.  

As we’ve noted in a past Truth Test, the health care legislation championed by President Obama does reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion between 2013 and 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.   

But $260 billion of that savings come from reduced growth in payments to health care providers, the CBO has said. Payments to Medicare Advantage plans, a Bush administration-era private insurance piece of Medicare, will also be scaled back with future reimbursement levels tied to merit-based metrics, the Washington Post has said.   

The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits can’t be rolled back, FactCheck.org has said. It’s already strengthened benefits for many.   

In August, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that in 2012’s first half, more than 1 million Medicare recipients a total of $687 million on prescription drugs, due to changes in the law.  

Verdict: There’s no specificity in the ad, just the language of a “cut.” This number is misleading, especially the way the ladies portray it in Raye’s ad. Slowing of future growth isn’t a cut, and benefits have been expanded.  

We rate this statement false.

“And he voted to raise the tax on our retirement dividends.”  

Michaud voted against a Republican plan that would hold the line on this tax for everyone.   

But he voted for a Democratic plan that would hold the line for everyone but those making more than $250,000. So this is a classic political half-truth, keying on one vote and not another.

The Republican plan passed the GOP-led House of Representatives in August; the Democratic plan was voted down just before.

The Republican plan would provide for a one-year extension of all Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at year’s end, according to The New York Times. That includes holding the line on a 15 percent tax on dividends.  

According to House Democrats, their plan would have maintained the 15 percent level on dividends for everyone making under $250,000. For those making over that, the tax would go up to 20 percent.  

Without any action, the House Republicans’ website has said that money would be taxed as income by 2013, with a top tax rate of nearly 40 percent. So in essence, both plans would for be far better for the typical American than what would happen if the cuts expire.  

Verdict: It’s misleading to say Michaud voted to let dividend taxes go up when he voted for an alternate plan that would lower them. That’s a typical political half-truth.  

We rate this statement half-true. 

Before this, Raye campaign ads have passed two Truth Tests fully. This ad’s first claim is true, but the next relies on Affordable Care Act misinformation. The third ignores a vote Michaud took to preserve dividend tax cuts for most retirees. When added up, the ad’s a half-truth.

We rate this ad half-true. 

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