by Andrew Walden
To hear the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee tell it, Republican Congressional candidate Charles Djou “signed a pledge that protects tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas” and “Djou still supports tax breaks for big corporations who would export our future.”
But the DCCC’s support for this claim rests entirely upon a single US House of Representatives Rules Committee vote held in July, 2007--while Djou was on the Honolulu City Council. The DCCC's commercial is even more dishonest than Colleen Hanabusa's claim to have cut legislative salaries.
The DCCC commercial asks viewers to “take a closer look at Djou’s troubling record on jobs” and directs them to the DCCC’s hastily assembled one-page website, www.DjouFacts.com.
At the site, the DCCC repeats its claim that “Djou pledged to a special interest group in Washington D.C. that he will protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” The search for the DCCC’s proof leads one down a narrow and twisted path. First, the DCCC refers readers to the fact that Djou in 2009 signed Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) taxpayer protection pledge.
ATR’s “special interest” is taxpayers. The term “special interest” is popularly understood to imply the interest of a small group. But “taxpayers” include the nearly 100% of American families and businesses who pay taxes in one form or another—so ATR can hardly be characterized as a “special interest group” as the term is popularly understood.
According to ATR, the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” has been signed by 207 sitting Senators and Congresspersons. An additional 367 House and Senate candidates—including Djou--have also signed. ATR explains:
While ATR has the role of promoting and monitoring the Pledge, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is actually made to a candidate's constituents, who are entitled to know where candidates stand before sending them to the capitol. Since the Pledge is a prerequisite for many voters, it is considered binding as long as an individual holds the office for which he or she signed the Pledge.
Since its rollout with the endorsement of President Reagan in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts.
Today the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is offered to every candidate for state office and to all incumbents. More than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Statehouse tax-and-spend interests have to contend with Pledge signers in every state.
But what does the ATR pledge have to do with “tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas”? On the face of it, not much. Djou’s pledge to taxpayers reads:
I, Charles Djou, pledge to the taxpayers of the First district of the state of Hawaii, and to the American people, that I will:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the net marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
There is not a single word regarding “overseas tax breaks” in that statement. So what does the DCCC hang its hat on? An obscure July, 2007 House Rules Committee vote on an amendment to “H.R. 2419, House Farm Bill.” Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s (D-TX) 2007 amendment proposed to raise taxes on foreign domiciled corporations which do business in the US. Because the tax increase was not offset by an equal or greater tax cut, ATR opposed the so called “Doggett language.” In a memo sent to members of Congress, ATR explained:
“The biggest losers will be the employees of these US based plants and offices, who will bear the full cost if the Doggett language pushes these companies off-shore. Foreign investment in the United States creates American jobs and strengthens economic growth. The Doggett language could lead to retaliatory tax increases by other nations, as well.”
In spite of ATR’s efforts, the Democrat-controlled House Rules Committee maneuvered to insert the “Doggett language” into the multi-billion dollar HR 2419. The entire bill was vetoed by then-President George W. Bush in May, 2008. Bush’s veto was overridden and the Bill became law, May 22, 2008.
So does this mean that Charles Djou “signed a pledge that protects tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas” or “still supports tax breaks for big corporations who would export our future”? No. Not even close. There is noting in the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which even remotely commits those who sign it to repeal the “Doggett language” or any other specific tax increase from the past.
The DCCC’s claim that Djou is somehow tied to this obscure House Rules vote three years ago is simply false.
But what if the DCCC’s logic were acceptable?
Given the Democrats’ methodology of regressive culpability—holding Djou and other Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers responsible for events in the past--it would be equally valid for Charles Djou to claim credit for the 16 million jobs created by Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut—29 years ago—and the 23 million jobs created under Clinton with a “no-new-taxes” Republican-controlled Congress between 1995 and 2001.
I can see the commercial coming now. “I’m Charles Djou, by signing this pledge, my opponents’ Party has acknowledged that I became responsible for creating 39 million jobs. Just imagine what I could do it I were in Congress.”
That might not work out to badly for Djou. Hawaii voted for Reagan’s reelection in 1984.
RELATED: VIDEO: National Democrats' anti-Djou commercials starting tonight