Right-wing group runs ads reminding voters GOP opposed $1,400 relief checks

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Americans for Prosperity is thanking Republicans for voting against the wildly popular American Rescue Plan.

A right-wing dark money group is running ads reminding voters which lawmakers voted for the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and which ones did not. But given the widespread popularity of the relief plan, the ads, aimed at boosting Republicans by thanking them for voting against it, may not have the desired result.

Americans for Prosperity told Fox News it is spending at least $100,000 on TV and online ads that include charges such as "Biden's $2 trillion COVID 'relief' bailed out irresponsible states" and urging voters to tell GOP lawmakers, "Thank you for opposing Washington's wasteful bailouts."

The tax-exempt group, founded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers to advance their anti-government agenda, has spent tens of millions of dollars backing GOP politicians over the years.

Their latest ads attack 26 Democrats who voted for the COVID-19 relief bill, which provided $1,400 stimulus checks and an average 2021 tax cut of more than $3,000 to most Americans; unemployment assistance to millions of people; $350 billion to support cash-strapped state, local, territorial, and tribal governments; more than $125 billion to support in-person learning in schools; and tens of billions of dollars for coronavirus vaccination and testing.

The ads also single out 11 Republicans who voted against the legislation, praising them for their opposition: Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (UT), Rob Portman (OH), Rick Scott (FL), Tim Scott (SC), Thom Tillis (NC), and Pat Toomey (PA), as well as Reps. Ashley Hinson (IA), Nancy Mace (SC), and Peter Meijer (MI).

Although conservatives continue to claim that the bill was some sort of "bailout" for blue states, it has provided huge support to red states. After unanimous congressional GOP opposition to the bill, not one Republican governor has said they will reject funds provided to their state under the plan.

Some Republicans have acknowledged that their scattershot arguments against the plan were ineffective, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saying, "I think this is a missed opportunity and the GOP has to improve its communications campaign pretty dramatically."

Polls have shown widespread support for the legislation, including from many GOP voters.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted in March found 75% of registered voters backed the relief law and just 18% opposed it. Even 59% of Republicans said they favored the plan.

Some Republicans in Congress have even tried to take credit for provisions in the bill they voted against.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the bill's wide popularity in a March 11 "PBS NewsHour" interview. He suggested that the American public was just too dumb to understand that it was a terrible package.

"I'm not surprised that the American public's initial reaction to this, before they know what's in it, would be positive," he said. "I mean, the thought of many Americans getting a $1,400 check, why would they not like that?"

Americans for Prosperity is now reminding those voters who it was who supported giving them those checks — and who voted against it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.