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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Hirono Refuses to Answer for Actions Harmful to Hawaii
By News Release @ 6:51 AM :: 7443 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics


News Release from

HONOLULU – In tonight’s final debate of the General Election, Congresswoman Hirono refused to answer for her actions which will harm Hawaii’s residents and small businesses. She avoided answering questions about why she voted twice to raise taxes on Hawaii’s middle class families, why she voted against Hawaii small businesses when she opposed the Korea Free Trade Agreement and why she proposed a bill (VISIT USA) that would raise the cost of housing for Hawaii residents.

“Mazie Hirono’s policies are clearly out of step with Hawaii and they are harmful to our future. The people of Hawaii need a proven, independent leader who presents a plan and understands the challenges we face. After watching four televised debates, the people know that leader is Linda Lingle," said Campaign Manager Bob Lee.

“Throughout this election and especially in the debates, Governor Lingle was clear, decisive and specific in how she would address the challenges our state and country face. On the other hand, as expected Hirono stayed true to her partisan rhetoric and her shallow interpretation of the facts,” added Lee.

Hirono Continues to Mislead Voters with Inaccurate Statements

Hirono tonight continued her misleading and inaccurate statements, designed to intentionally mislead Hawaii voters. Her inaccuracies and deceptive statements have been detailed, fact-checked and sourced in the Debate Fact Check Addendum that follows, many of which have been corrected in previous debates.

Claim: Hirono claimed the progressive budget that she voted for which would raise taxes on Hawaii’s middle class is “not the budget we need to worry about.”

Fact: Congresswoman Hirono voted twice to increase taxes on Hawaii’s middle-income families—those making $35,351 or more per year. Had these measures passed, they would have hurt over 100,000 working families in Hawaii, more than one third of all families who file income taxes in our state. [1]

Mazie Hirono voted in 2011 and again in 2012 for the ‘Congressional Progressive Caucus’ budget. [2] That budget would increase by a full 12% the taxes paid by wage earners starting at $35,351. [3] This tax increase would squarely hit Hawaii's middle class families. Thankfully in 2012, this proposal was defeated 78 to 346, with “no” votes from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and 106 other Democrats.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Selected Economic Characteristics: 2006-2010 Hawaii, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (Geographic Area Profiles (5-Year Estimates) "DP03: Selected Economic Characteristics") (available at:

[2] Roll Call Vote No. 148, Clerk of the House of Representatives (available at:; Roll Call Vote No. 274, Clerk of the House of Representatives (available at:

[3] Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Analysis, Bipartisan Policy Center (March 2012) (available at:

Claim: Hirono claimed that the VISIT USA Bill will create jobs, but she fails to answer for the provision of her signature legislation that will increase the cost of housing for Hawaii families.

Fact: Rep. Mazie Hirono’s bill would raise housing prices in Hawaii, making it unaffordable for local families who are struggling to find a home in one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. [1]

The VISIT USA bill, which Hirono has touted as her signature legislation, would allow foreigners to apply for residential visas to the United States if they purchase a residential property for at least $500,000. This incentive may be good for the mainland, but as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported,“[i]n Hawaii, however, where the housing supply is low, and high prices have kept homeownership out of reach for many middle-class families, incentives for foreign investors who have the resources to pay cash up front could drive up prices.” [2]




Claim: Hirono claimed the South Korea Free Trade Agreement was a “bill that will help large corporations.” She also justified her vote against the free trade agreement “because Hawaii’s farmers have competition from elsewhere”.

Fact: The people of Hawaii are the ones that will benefit from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. U.S. goods exports to South Korea support over 4,000 Hawaii jobs. [1] In 2009, South Korea was our state's third-largest foreign market. In that year, Hawaii exported $67 million in hard goods to Korea. According to the U.S.-Korea Business Council, the free trade agreement is poised to increase exports to South Korea since it was ratified earlier this year. In addition, Hawaii’s farmers and small businesses will directly benefit from the agreement’s immediate elimination of tariffs on popular agricultural exports including papayas and unroasted coffee. The 30-percent tariff on bananas and guavas will be phased out over five years, and pineapple tariffs will be phased out over 10 years. [2]

The Korea Free Trade Agreement would also phase out tariffs on roasted coffee, and the 567% tariffs on macadamia nut imports. [3]

Because Hawaii farmers “have competition from elsewhere,” as Hirono stated, the free trade agreement would help them by reducing tariffs and duties that are imposed by Korea on Hawaii’s agricultural products.

Mazie Hirono, worked against improving trade with South Korea when she voted against this overwhelmingly popular and beneficial agreement. Congresswoman Hirono was out of step with our entire Hawaii Congressional delegation and President Obama. Luckily she was out-voted because her position would have hurt job creation in Hawaii and the rest of America.


[1] U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Benefits for the Hawaii Economy, U.S.-Korea Business Council (available at:

[2] U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement - Hawaii Farmers Will Benefit, U.S. Department of Agriculture (September 2011).

[3] U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Benefits for the Hawaii Economy, U.S.-Korea Business Council (available at:

Claim: Hirono claimed her vote for “sequestration” (automatic across-the-board budget cuts) was necessary to “avoid the fiscal cliff and reneging on our debt.”


According to the Congressional Budget Office, the fiscal cliff itself was caused by sequestration [1], which Mazie Hirono voted for. Not the other way around.

No one – not President Obama, Simpson/Bowles, or Domenici/Rivlin – identified any such ‘fiscal cliff’ before Congress caused the cliff. The fact is that the term ‘fiscal cliff’ came-up only after the sequestration was agreed to. [2]

As part of the Budget Control Act, Congress passed automatic across-the-board budget cuts (known as the sequestration). The intent was that the Super Committee’s plan would replace the automatic cuts.

Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, warned Congress that the sequestration budget cuts would threaten “programs critical to our nation’s security.” The defense industry is already warning of massive layoffs. ”Congress can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” Panetta said. [3]

All independent analysis, including from the Congressional Budget Office [4], squarely point to the sequestration and expiration of the Bush tax cuts (which the Super-Committee also failed to deal with) for the ‘fiscal cliff’.

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 the can down the road instead of seriously addressing the issue.


[1] Congressional Budget Office, “Economic Effects of Reducing the Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That is Scheduled to Occur in 2013”, May 2012

[2] Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (Simpson-Bowles), “Between a Mountain of Debt and a Fiscal Cliff”, March 29, 2012

[3] Panetta: Sequestration threatens ‘critical’ programs (June 29, 2012). Available online:

[4] Congressional Budget Office, “Economic Effects of Reducing the Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That is Scheduled to Occur in 2013”, May 2012

Claim: Hirono claimed Governor Lingle has issued misleading attacks on her voting record. Hirono tried to defend her voting record by challenging Governor Lingle’s assertion that Hirono’s rate of missed votes is twice that of her Congressional colleagues.

Facts: From the very same source that Hirono cites in her television ad refuting Governor Lingle’s claim, the facts are clear: from January 2007 to September 2012, Hirono missed 257 of 5,081 recorded or roll call votes, which is 5.0%. This is worse than the median of 2.5%.


Claim: Hirono claimed that the $716 billion cuts to Medicare “are payments that cannot be justified.”

Fact: 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 [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. Moreover, according to AAN the total Medicare cuts to Hawaii are $2,151,990,000. [2] That means cuts of $10,648 to each and every one of our 202,097 kupuna right here at home in Hawaii. [3]

Hirono provides double talk when asked about the massive cut to Medicare she is supporting. When she says it won’t affect beneficiaries, she’s just not telling the truth.


[1] Romney’s Right – Obamacare Cuts Medicare by 716, here’s how, Washington Post; (August 14, 2012) (available at:

[2] $716 billion cut to Medicare broken down by state, American Action Network (available at

[3] Hawaii Population over Age-65, U.S. Census (available at:

Claim: Hirono continues to claim she would reduce the federal debt and deficit by ending Bush-era tax cuts, cutting Medicare waste, ending oil company tax breaks and supporting President Obama’s Jobs bill.

Fact: Hirono is only pretending to solve the deficit crisis.

“Ending the Bush-era tax cuts” and “taxing the rich” will not end our annual $1.3 trillion deficit and our $16 trillion national debt. According to IRS statistics, those making more than $1 million had a total adjusted gross income (AGI) of $240 billion in 2009 (latest year IRS has reported the figures).[1] If government were to take these millionaires’ entire income (essentially tax them at 100%), it would raise $240 billion a year. This would cover just 18.5% of the current $1.3 trillion deficit.

“Cutting {[ting]} Medicare Waste” is a phantom figure for a budget savings. A GAO report dated March 9, 2011[2], stated that in fiscal year 2010 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid, made a total of over $70 billion in improper payments. Medicare waste should be eliminated. But it is a fallacy to assume its elimination and then insert as a “hard” number {and} the estimate of what could be saved if and when Medicare waste is eliminated.

“Ending oil company tax breaks” is an overly simplistic political talking point which ignores the reality of energy subsidies. According to the CBO, the cost of all subsidies to fossil fuel producers (oil, gas and coal) amounts to $2.5 billion a year [3] or enough to fund six hours of the federal government. Cost of subsidies to renewable energy, however, totaled $13.9 billion.

“Support[ing] President Obama’s Jobs Bill” would not reduce our federal deficit or debt. In fact, if provisions of this bill pass, it will result in excess of $440 billion additional deficit and debt. [4] Following on the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds, this additional stimulus will alone add another nearly half-trillion to the nation's $16 trillion debt.


[1] IRS, Statistics of Income Division, July 2011

[2] GAO, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID FRAUD, WASTE, AND ABUSE, Effective Implementation of Recent Laws and Agency Actions Could Help Reduce Improper Payments,

[3] Congressional Budget Office, Issue Brief, Federal Financial Support for Development and Production of Fuels and Energy Technologies, March 2012;

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

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