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Fact Checker: Third party ads attack Tester, Rehberg voting records

Published On: Oct 28 2012 08:13:06 PM MDT   Updated On: Oct 28 2012 08:34:06 PM MDT

This edition of Fact Checker looks at two new attack ads in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Jon Tester and challenger Dennis Rehberg race paid for by third parties.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee paid for an ad attacking Denny Rehberg and his voting record when it comes to minimum wage and his own pay.

“I know Rehberg voted five times to raise his own pay,” says a Billings waitress in the ad.

We dug through Rehberg's votes and it's true he's supported several resolutions that hiked his and fellow lawmakers' salaries, a total of five times since 2002.

But it's important to note there is a law that's governed congressional pay for more than two decades. The Ethics Reform Act of 1989 established the current automatic annual adjustment formula; it's based on private sector wages measured by the employment cost index.

To put it simply, unless congress votes against it, they're automatically entitled to a pay raise by law.

“And Rehberg voted ten times against raising the minimum wage,” says the waitress.

Rehberg has voted against raising the minimum wage. In January 2007 for example he voted against a house bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.85 an hour to $7.25.

Less than a year earlier he voted in support of a similar bill to raise increase the minimum wage to $7.25 by 2009.

$7.25 is still the current federal minimum wage, but Montana sits above that at $7.65. The state controls its own minimum wage, and it increases annually, based on the Consumer Price Index.

The State Labor Department says it will jump up another 15 cents an hour to $7.80 next year.

An ad paid for by the Crossroads GPS Super Pac attacks Jon Tester for ties to President Obama and his voting record.

“Trillions wasted on the stimulus and Obamacare,” says the ad.

Senator Tester voted in support of both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

We checked the non partisan, Congressional Budget Office (CBO); it keeps track of the federal budget and the economy.

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 the CBO said it would actually lower the deficit by about $124 billion over 10 years. And in 2011 when republicans suggested repealing the health care law the CBO said that it would increase the deficit by about $210 billion over 10 years.

As for the stimulus, the CBO estimates the total impact over 2009-2019 will amount to about $883 billion. The bill aimed to create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010; the CBO reports as many as 3.3 million jobs were created.

“Over $5 trillion dollars in new debt,” says the ad.

According to the Treasury Department's 'Debt to the Penny' website, it's true that during president Obama's four years in office the national debt has increased $5 trillion.

Several non partisan groups like Politifact have fact checked the national debt as well. They too confirm the $5 trillion in national debt, but also point out the decline in government revenues because of the recession.

To check these ads we consulted non partisan political groups like the Congressional Budget Office and the Politifact dot com. We also looked at past voting records and legislative action.