Senator Heidi Heitkamp Continues to Use Bogus, Retracted Talking Point About Tax Reform

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp

In a sign of just how desperate Senator Heidi Heitkamp and her allies are to muddy the waters around her vote against tax reform, she is continuing to use a debunked talking point about the impact of that reform she retracted last week.

In a December 7 tweet (since deleted) Heitkamp claimed that tax reform would taxes on North Dakotans by $10,000 by 2027 (click here).

The problem? That’s absolutely false. It’s not even what the report Heitkamp sources that number to says as the folks at Americans for Prosperity pointed out:

In her statement, Heitkamp cites a report by the Institute on Tax and Economic Policy (ITEP) as the source for her “almost $10,000” figure. The exact number used in the report is $9,900 and can be found on pages 7 and 32. Two things about this number. First, it is not an “average” of anything and is not listed or described as such. It purports to describe how much more North Dakota taxpayers as a whole would pay in 2027. Second, the true number isn’t even $9,900, it’s $9.9 million. Examine the tables on pages 7 and 32; they are both labelled “thousands,” as in thousands of dollars. So Heitkamp is not only wrong about what the number describes, she’s also wrong about what the number actually is.

Heitkamp should have known her charge was ludicrous by looking at the what the $9,900 figure was for other states. For example, the corresponding number for Florida (see page 7) is $1,090,600. In Heitkamp’s interpretation of the data, the average Floridian would face a $1 million tax increase in 2027.

Heitkamp’s original tweet was sent down the memory hole after I wrote about this issue on December 8. On December 9 my colleague, Forum News Service reporter John Hageman, ended up issuing a correction to a story he wrote about tax reform which cited Heitkamp’s figure:


Unfortunately, as I noted in my print column yesterday, Senator Heitkamp hasn’t publicly acknowledged the use of this completely bogus and outrageous claim about tax reform despite having deleted some of her online references to it.

But she is still using it in communications with constituents. A SAB reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) forwarded me the email he received from Senator Heitkamp in response to an inquiry about tax reform. In that email, dated December 12, the phony baloney $10,000 tax hike claim is repeated:

The president and most members of Congress will benefit from this bill. Meanwhile, North Dakotans making under $75,220 – 60 percent of those in our state – will get an average tax cut of just a few hundred dollars. Then, when the middle class relief expires in 2027, on average, North Dakotans will see a tax increase of almost $10,000.

This is false. Senator Heitkamp has essentially acknowledged that the claim is false when she deleted some references to it after I called her out on it. Yet still, Heitkamp continues to use it in correspondence with constituents.

You have to wonder how many people have received this false claim from Heitkamp given the propensity for members of Congress to response to constituent correspondence with form letters.

Heitkamp and her allies are desperate to provide cover for her vote against tax reform which is undoubtedly going to be a political liability for the incumbent during what promises to be a bruising re-election campaign next year. I get that. It’s to be expected.

But they shouldn’t get away with using factually inaccurate information.

Here’s the full email:

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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