Senator Heitkamp Posts Misleading Figures About Tax Reform on Social Media

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp talks about the prospect of temporarily housing refugee children at the Grand Forks Air Force Base during a recent visit to the Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

I don’t think North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp voted on the tax reform bill’s merits. I think she voted the way her party bosses told her, and now after the fact she and her political allies are justifying it with exaggeration, hyperbole, and even outright falsehoods.

Case in point, check out this tweet the Senator sent out yesterday saying North Dakotans will see an average tax increase of $10,000 in 2027 if this tax bill passes:

UPDATE: Senator Heitkamp deleted her tweet. I’ve preserved a screenshot right here.

This is false. Nor is that a matter of opinion. Senator Heitkamp (or more accurately someone on her staff) either misinterpreted or is simply lying about the report from which that figure is drawn.

The folks at Americans for Prosperity caught the error and have sent out a press release about it. You can read it in full below, but here’s the meat of it:

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.

I know Democrats are desperate to give Heitkamp political cover for her vote against tax reform, but this is ridiculous.

By the way, for some context, the Tax Foundation says a middle income family in North Dakota could expect about a $2,400 boost in post-tax annual income according to the Tax Foundation.

Nor is this the only fib Heitkamp is telling about tax reform. For instance, she’s also claiming it give the middle class a tax hike:

This isn’t true. The tax rate at every single income level will be lowered.

If Senator Heitkamp has objections to the tax reform bill that’s fine. She can make that case to voters. But it should be based on truth, not exaggerations and falsehoods.

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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