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Friday, October 19, 2012
Fact Check: Hirono stumbles, shows lack of understanding of key issues
By News Release @ 3:48 AM :: 5768 Views :: Energy, Environment


Hirono stumbles, shows lack of understanding of key issues

News Release from

HONOLULU – In the third televised U.S. Senate debate of the General Election, Governor Linda Lingle clearly articulated the challenges facing our state and nation as well as presented her detailed and specific plan for restoring confidence in Hawaii and our nation’s future. In stark contrast, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono avoided specifics and instead relied on vague themes, a bleak legislative record and national party sound bites to prop up her candidacy.

“The Island Insights format really allowed the opportunity to deliver deep and thoughtful responses to the questions about Hawaii’s future. After listening side by side, there is simply no comparison. Governor Lingle understands the intricacies of issues that affect our future and she is able to articulate how they will impact Hawaii. She proved this while discussing issues as diverse as the sequestration, the VISIT USA bill, and defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Campaign Manager Bob Lee. “Hawaii voters saw once again that Congresswoman Hirono does not understand the issues and the importance they play in our lives here at home. The people of Hawaii cannot risk sending Hirono to the U.S. Senate where understanding the issues and being able to effectively advocate for Hawaii’s best interests is key.”

The U.S. Senate debate tonight was sponsored by PBS and moderated by Dan Boylan.

Hirono Continues to Mislead Voters with Inaccurate Statements

In the third televised debate, Congresswoman Hirono continued to repeat misleading and inaccurate statements, many which have been corrected as recently as two days ago. Despite Hirono’s attempts to intentionally mislead Hawaii voters, the Congresswoman’s inaccuracies have been detailed, fact-checked and sourced in the Debate Fact Check Addendum that follows.

* * * * *

Claim: Mazie Hirono claims she supported 12 initiatives to help small businesses.

Fact: Simply casting a vote in favor of a measure is far from being the champion for small business that Hawaii greatly needs.

Hirono claims to be an advocate for Hawaii small businesses but deliberately neglects to mention the dozen proposals she supported to raise their tax burden. [1]


[1] Hirono voted to pass the progressive caucus substitute budget that would repeal tax cuts and eliminate certain business tax provisions. (H. Con. Res. 99, CQ Vote #210: Rejected in Committee of the Whole 81-340: R 0-198; D 81-142, 3/29/07, Hirono Voted Yea)

Hirono voted against a substitute amendment that would assume an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. (H. Con. Res. 99, CQ Vote #211: Rejected in Committee of the Whole 160-268: R 159-40; D 1-228, 3/29/07, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted for the congressional black caucus substitute budget that would assume a repeal of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and assume a repeal of business tax provisions. (H Con Res 312, CQ Vote #137: Rejected In Committee Of The Whole 126-292: R 0-192; D 126-100; 3/13/08, Hirono Voted Yea)

Hirono voted against an amendment that would assume an extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. (H. Con. Res. 312, CQ Vote #140: Rejected in Committee of the Whole 157-263: R 153-38; D 4-225, 3/13/08, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted against the Republican substitute budget amendment, which assumed an extension for the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the top 1 percent of U.S. households. (H. Con. Res. 85, CQ Vote #191: Rejected in Committee of the Whole 137-293: R 137-38; D 0-255, 4/2/09, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted to pass the House health care reform bill, which would have imposed a 5.4% income tax on certain individuals and joint filers. In addition, the House bill would impose a 2.5% tax on the sale of medical device manufacturers. (H.R. 3962, CQ Vote #887: Passed 220-215: R 1-176; D 219-39, 11/7/09, Hirono Voted Yea)

Hirono voted against a 2012 budget resolution that would cut the business tax rate to 25%. (H Con Res 34, CQ Vote #277: Adopted 235-193: R 235-4; D 0-189; 4/15/11, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted against passage of a bill that would extend the payroll tax extension through 2012. (H.R. 3630, CQ Vote #923: Passed by a vote of 234-193: R 224-14; D 10-179, 12/13/11, Hirono voted Nay)

Hirono voted against adoption of the resolution to express the sense of the House that Congress should extend for one year the payroll tax holiday. (H Res 501, CQ Vote #949: Adopted by a vote of 226-185: R 226-8; D 0-177, 12/20/11, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted against a study committee substitute budget that would eliminate the estate tax and cut the business tax rate to 25 percent. (H Con Res 112, CQ Vote #149: Rejected in Committee of the Whole by a vote of 136-285: R 139-104; D 0-181, 3/29/12, Hirono Voted Nay)

Hirono voted for the substitute budget that would eliminate a variety of business tax breaks. (H Con Res 112, CQ Vote #150: Rejected in Committee of the Whole by a vote of 163-262: R 0-240; D 163-22, 3/29/12, Hirono Voted Yea)

Hirono voted against the small business tax deduction bill that would allow businesses with fewer than 500 employees a 20 percent tax deduction on their 2012 income. (HR 9, CQ Vote #177: Passed by a vote of 235-173: R 217-10; D 18-163, 4/19/12, Hirono Voted Nay)

Claim: Hirono claims she is “stunned that she [Governor Lingle] said earlier that she would not have supported the Budget Control Act.”

Fact: Mazie Hirono voted for sequestration in August 2011. Unlike Hirono, Governor Lingle would not have supported sequestration, which threatens our military and our national defense with steep and dangerous cuts. Hirono essentially kicked can down the road instead of seriously addressing the issue.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, in its May 2012 “Economic Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That Is Scheduled to Occur in 2013” report to Congress, warned that eliminating the “sequestration” without imposing other comparable measures of fiscal restraint would reduce our nation’s output and income and lead to national debt levels that would be dangerous. [1]


[1] Congressional Budget Office, in its May 2012 “Economic Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That Is Scheduled to Occur in 2013, retrieved from

Claim: Mazie Hirono again stated that “sequestration was necessary to prevent the country from going over an economic cliff.”

Fact: Sequestration was not about preventing the country from “going over an economic cliff”. Our nation faces an economic cliff because of the annual $1 trillion in deficit and $16 trillion in total debt.

Our Congress, of which Mazie Hirono is a part, should have exercised the leadership they were elected to do and deal with the deficit and debt. Instead, they ducked the issue by passing on the responsibility to a “Supercommittee”. Congress passed “sequestration” as a way to pressure the Congressional Supercommittee to come up with a deficit reduction plan. The “Supercommittee” failed. So now “sequestration” kicks-in.

Congress, including Mazie Hirono, failed to provide leadership. Congress’s adding a “sequestration” as a blunt pressure tool compounded the mistake.

That was the only reason Congress passed “sequestration.” It was not a threat of a fiscal cliff, as Hirono claimed.


[1] Congressional Budget Office, in its May 2012 “Economic Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That Is Scheduled to Occur in 2013, retrieved from

Claim: Mazie Hirono claimed that without “sequestration” our nation’s credit rating “would have crashed.”

Fact: S&P did not downgrade the U.S. credit due to the level of debt. The downgrade was based on the failure of Washington leaders to deal with the deficit and debt crisis. Mazie Hirono was part of that Congress that failed to deal with this crisis.


“United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' Due To Political Risks, Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative” (

Claim: Hirono claimed that she will support the President's Jobs Bill to create more jobs.

Fact: According to the White House, the estimated cost of this Jobs Bill would be in excess of $440 billion. After the $800 billion, which the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus already spent, this additional stimulus will alone add another half-trillion to the nation's $16 trillion debt.

A large portion of the Jobs Bill is based on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects. The problem, as ARRA demonstrated, is that there are too few of these projects. Further the $10 billion, which is slated to create a national infrastructure bank, will take years to be fully operational.

Harvard Economist Martin Feldstein, President Obama’s own appointee to Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said bill would cost $200,000 per job created. [1] Various other Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, also note that the bill is too costly to implement. [2]

Currently, American businesses are sitting on $3 trillion in cash that they are not investing or using to hire staff. Instead of government spending money it does not have and will need to borrow, it should work on facilitating the private sector spending the $3 trillion it does have.


[1] Office of the White House Press Sec., “Fact Sheet on American Jobs Act”, October 4, 2011

[2] New York Times, September 28, 2011; ABC News, October 2, 2011

Claim: Hirono repeated claimed “My opponent will turn Medicare into a voucher system.”

Fact: Hirono’s claim that Governor Lingle's idea of allowing seniors to choose their own health insurance plan as a means of preserving Medicare is a "voucher program” is completely false.

She knows that Governor Lingle's proposal does not involve a "voucher program." A voucher program is where a beneficiary receives a payment (the "voucher") from government and then fends for him or herself.

Under Governor Lingle's proposal, Medicare Choice, a beneficiary can select either traditional Medicare or a private insurance plan approved by the Medicare program from a health exchange and the federal government will make the payment directly to the selected insurance provider.

Claim: Hirono claimed that her new ad concerning vouchers is factually accurate.

Fact: Hirono’s completely false claim that seniors will pay as much as $6,400 more in Medicare costs under a premium support plan, was debunked more than a year ago by a well-known, non-partisan organization.

Independent [1] says, "we've been debunking these claims about Ryan's plan since 2011, and Democrats continue to criticize the old plan more so than the current one. The Romney-Ryan plan would leave Medicare unchanged for current beneficiaries, and for those age 55 or older."


[1] (available at:

Claim: Hirono said that Obamacare does not take $716 billion from Medicare.

Facts: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) takes $716 billion from Medicare. [1]

The $716-billion cut to Medicare that Hirono supports includes cuts in reimbursements to doctors, hospitals, nursing services, hospice facilities and home health services, as well a $300-billion cut to the Medicare Advantage Program, upon which 43% of Hawaii's seniors depend.

Even former Speaker Nancy Pelosi has admitted the dramatic cuts to Medicare: “You don’t have to have cuts in those initiatives in order to reduce cost there, and we have proven that we’re willing to make cuts in the cost to initiatives. We took half a trillion dollars out of Medicare in the Affordable Care Act, the health care bill, already, and there’s certainly more opportunities for savings in that respect.” [2]

Hirono is also trying to divert the public’s attention from her support of a $716-billion cut to the Medicare program that Medicare’s Chief Actuary Richard Foster says will jeopardize access to care because lower payments would drive some doctors and hospitals out of business.

Finally, Governor Lingle is confident that by engaging in a meaningful and bipartisan policy discussion, the current law can address these issues and cost impacts. However, if it is a straight “repeal or not repeal” of the PPACA as-is without any changes, she would vote to repeal. [3]


[1] Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation Estimation of Direct Spending and Revenue Effects of H.R. 6079, Congressional Budget Office (July 24, 2012) (available at:

[2] Remarks from Nancy Pelosi, CNBC’s “Closing Bell”, 10/29/2011

[3] Washington Post;

Claim: Mazie Hirono stated that Dodd-Frank did not “protect ‘too-big-to fail’”.

Fact: This is wrong. Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a respected authority on the all of the Wall Street bail-outs has stated, “The whole point of Dodd-Frank was to end the era of ‘too big to fail’ banks. It’s fairly obvious that it hasn’t done that.”[1] In fact, Mr. Barofsky predicts another financial crisis triggered by another Lehman-type bailout of a bank that is “too big to fail”. He places a “multi-trillion dollar bill” for such a bail-out.


[1] “Neil Barofsky: Another Financial Crisis All But Inevitable”, Hera Research, September 18, 2012 (

Claim: Hirono always claims her “VISIT USA” bill as one of her signature legislative accomplishments, yet she doesn’t understand the components of her own bill.

Fact: Besides the fact that Mazie Hirono copied the bill from a Senate Bill that was introduced earlier, there is one additional feature in the bill that a thinking Congresswoman from Hawaii should not have introduced and which will cause more housing shortage in the state.

A provision in Hirono's bill, having nothing to do with tourism, will give a U.S. Green Card to any foreign investor who purchases a house worth at least $500,000.[1] That is just a purchase of an existing house on the market. Not a new one-to-be-built (which may help create construction jobs). No requirement for an investment in a business or to create new jobs.

As $500,000 is below the median price for a house in Hawaii, this provision will invite and incentivize foreign investors to bid-up housing prices across the state. A result, this provision will to reduce housing availability for our middle-class families.

The VISIT USA bill is still in committee. But the key question is why would Mazie Hirono introduce and brag about a bill that would so adversely affect Hawaii’s middle class families?



Claim: Mazie Hirono claimed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a special interest group influencing Hawaii voters.

Fact: Hirono fails to mention the four Super PACs (Emily’s List, AFSCME, Working Families for Hawaii and Local 50), that are supporting her candidacy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose single mission is “to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy,” and which endorses both Democrats and Republicans is far from a special interest group. The Chamber’s advocacy for legislation and candidates is representative of diverse political interests. Hirono and her team are resorting to desperate partisan tactics, buzz words and Washington-style politics in an attempt to distract Hawaii voters.

Claim: Hirono claimed that the responsibility to refrain from conducting an environmental impact statement rested with Governor Lingle.

Fact: The Hawaii Supreme Court’s Superferry decision was a major departure from well-established law that Governor Lingle and the Legislature relied upon in funding and carrying out infrastructure upgrades for the Superferry’s operation.

In fact, it was the State Department of Transportation (DOT), who reviewed the necessary harbor improvements for the Superferry’s operation in Hawaii. The DOT processed the exemptions in the same way as it had for other harbor improvements in the past. [1] Prior to DOT’s exemption determination, it consulted with the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) regarding whether an exemption from the environmental review process was appropriate for the proposed improvements. [2] OEQC believed that the proposed improvements fell within the scope of work described in the Department of Transportation’s approved exemption list. [3]


[1] Respondent's Brief, Sierra Club v. State of Hawaii Dep't of Trans. I (2007) (21) ("Pursuant to HAR § 11-200-8(a) and upon review and concurrence by the Environmental Council, the State of Hawaii department of Transportation issued its Comprehensive Exemption List.").

[2] Respondent's Brief, Sierra Club v. State of Hawaii Dep't of Trans. I (2007) (22) ("In reviewing the proposed minor improvements to Kahului Harbor, DOT sought OEQC's advice specifically pertaining to the improvements at Kahului Harbor . . . OEQC director Genevieve Salmonson confirmed that ‘OEQC believes that the proposed improvements fall within the scope of work described in the Department of Transportation's approved exemption list.").

[3] Respondent's Brief, Sierra Club v. State of Hawaii Dep't of Trans. I (2007) (22) ("In reviewing the proposed minor improvements to Kahului Harbor, DOT sought OEQC's advice specifically pertaining to the improvements at Kahului Harbor . . . OEQC director Genevieve Salmonson confirmed that ‘OEQC believes that the proposed improvements fall within the scope of work described in the Department of Transportation's approved exemption list.'").

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