BOISE - GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador has launched a new TV ad, with the help of funding from the Idaho Republican Party, painting Congressman Walt Minnick as a tax-raiser.
The one vote cited in the ad: Minnick voted in favor of HR 4154, which the ad says means he “voted to raise taxes on farmers and ranchers.” But that bill, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers and Small Businesses Act of 2009, actually would have lowered the federal estate tax from 55 percent to 45 percent on Jan. 1, and raised the exemption from the first $1 million of an estate to $3.5 million. Because the bill was blocked in the Senate after passing the House, current law now calls for the higher rate and lower exemption to hit Jan. 1.
The federal estate tax currently is at zero for one year, but it reverts to the old, higher rates and lower exemptions unless Congress takes action. Phil Hardy, spokesman for Labrador’s campaign, said that means the bill would have raised taxes from the current zero level.
“Republicans want to abolish the estate tax - Raul Labrador wants to abolish the estate tax,” Hardy said. “There’s no way he would have voted for any of these things.”
Prior to the full House’s passage of HR 4154, Minnick was one of just 18 House Democrats who voted in favor of an amendment to the bill to instead eliminate the estate tax. It failed, 187-233.
“When that amendment did not pass, he voted for the compromise to make sure that the tax wouldn’t go up,” said Minnick’s campaign spokesman, John Foster.
Hardy said, “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.” He added, “We’re happy with it - we love the ad.”
Foster said the bill “actually did the opposite” of what the ad claims.
The ad also cites Minnick’s comments in several debates that “all options are on the table” to reduce the federal deficit as a sign that he’ll raise taxes. Hardy noted that Minnick also has talked about “Draconian measures” and “no sacred cows” when talking about what’s needed to reduce the federal deficit. “Those are barely coded words to the taxpayers that there’s going to have to be a tax increase to pay for the spending spree of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi,” Hardy said.
Minnick, during a televised debate on Idaho Public TV, said he opposes tax increases during recessions, and favors extensive spending cuts, re-examination of entitlement programs and a review of the tax system before considering any tax increase. “If you’ve done all of these things and the economy is recovering, I’m with Sen. (Mike) Crapo on this issue; we need to keep all options on the table,” he said. “Because unless we do, we’ll continue to have those trillion dollar deficits and it will ruin the country.”
Crapo, R-Idaho, serves on a federal deficit-reduction commission.
Hardy said Labrador will never vote for any tax increase, and said his idea for reducing the deficit is “cut spending, and start by returning to 2008 levels.”
Foster said, “Raul Labrador’s rhetoric on this issue makes it plain that he cannot be trusted to go back to Washington, D.C. and seriously tackle the important issues facing this country.”