by Andrew Walden
For Mark Takai, winning the Democratic CD1 primary came in part because of a TV ad which implied he had voted against taxing retirement savings "every time."
But the record shows Takai voted in favor of the pension tax--twice.
Even weeks after angry kupuna and union members began crowding committee hearings to protest, Takai voted 'aye' for the pension tax bill HB1092 HD1 on Second Read, March 4, 2011. Four days later on Third Read he voted 'aye with reservations' for the same bill.
Any claim that Takai voted against the pension tax "every time" is plainly false.
Takai switched sides after the Senate refused to consider the pension tax. When the House Finance Committee inserted pension tax language into SB570, Takai voted 'no' on April 8 and April 12, 2011.
Pension Tax = Cadillac Tax?
Many state employees believe the pension tax was a roundabout way of renegotiating collective bargaining agreements. What the State could not win through arbitration it would make up by taxing contract pension benefits.
Likewise, the federal "Cadillac Tax" written into the so-called Affordable Care Act undercuts union-employer health care plans nationwide. Pacific Business News reports that starting in 2018, the tax "targets insurance benefits that exceed $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage."
The national leadership of ILWU, LIUNA, Unite HERE and other unions prominent in Hawaii have protested long and loud against this tax. Last September, ILWU quit the AFL-CIO in part over the Cadillac Tax. Current ILWU West Coast negotiations are jammed over who will pay for the $150M burden of the Cadillac Tax. Any settlement will result in higher shipping costs.
Given his history with the Pension Tax, if Takai were elected to Congress, how would he vote on House Republican efforts to abolish the Cadillac Tax?
Republican CD1 nominee Charles Djou says, "Obamacare’s punitive costs and punishing demands hurt working people.... Hawaii should be exempt...."
The Star-Advertiser May 18, 2014 reports that Hawaii's all-Democrat Congressional Delegation rebuffed efforts to obtain an Obamacare exemption because a waiver would "start a political narrative the Democratic leadership would find awkward."
Pushing for an exemption, Advertiser editors pointed out: "the public interest, not politics, has to be the overriding concern."