Trade ya’ Tonko for Murphy

I’m no fan of Scott Murphy, the outgoing congressman from New York’s 20th District.  However, I’d take him in a heartbeat over my representative from the 21st District: Paul Tonko.

It all relates to the ongoing tax rate debate.  (Hey, that rhymes!)  Tonko voted against extending the current income tax rates that were lowered during the Bush administration.  Murphy voted to extend them, although he didn’t sound terribly excited about his vote.  The crux of the issue is whether or not those tax cuts should be extended for everybody, including the “rich,” or whether they should be extended only for the middle class and below.

Here’s a comment from Tonko in WNYT’s story about the vote:

“I am committed to providing tax cuts for the middle class … What I am against is extending a bonus tax cut for the wealthy.  They don’t need it — and we can’t afford it,” said Tonko.

Nah, don’t worry about letting the tax cuts expire for the middle-class folks in your district.  Just as long as those evil rich folks don’t get richer.

Here’s a shocker.  I’m all for extending the tax cuts to rich and poor alike. (Okay… that’s not a shocker for anyone who’s been reading my blog.)  I’m not rich.  Far from it.  But I recognize that it is far more likely that I’ll pick up a much-needed job from a so-called rich business person.  Tax cuts might make it easier for them to afford to hire new folks.  Tax increases… just the opposite.

However, a few days ago, Tonko argued that my logic is faulty in a post on The Hill’s Congress Blog.  He threw around a bunch of numbers that supposedly prove that the tax cuts didn’t help the job market, even prior to the recession.  Now, I’m no economic expert.  My eyes tend to glaze over when digging into economic terminology.

I took it as an opportunity to ask myself whether or not I would change my mind if Tonko’s argument were true.  I’m not convinced that Tonko’s case is convincing, but for argument’s sake…

And ya’ know, my thoughts on this current debate do not change.  Not an iota.  At a minimum we should extend the tax cuts for everybody even if they don’t help the job market.  I’d rather err on the side of giving folks their money, rather than the guv’mint.  Of course, that should also come with some deep federal spending cuts… but that’s a whole other can of worms.

While I’m on the topic, I just love the way Tonko started his blog post:

I have one question for President George W. Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress. Where are the jobs?

Mr. Tonko, you’re kidding, right?  The Dems controlled the House, the Senate, and the Executive Branch for the last two years.  If these tax cuts were so egregious, shouldn’t you have already taken action to raise taxes? (Especially on them rich folks?)

I’m not the biggest fan of “W’s” economic policies, especially later in his second term.  However, it’s been TWO years.  Quit whining.

Tonko’s blog post gets better, though:

If there was one message I heard loud and clear this November it was that we simply cannot afford to continue business as usual in Washington, D.C. We must take a serious look at our debt and how we are spending public dollars and collecting taxes.

I’ll believe it when I see it.  I’m not holding my breath, either.

One final point:  Mr. Tonko, if you want to show your middle-class constituents that you are serious about controlling spending, my recommendation is to stop your double dipping.  (Congressman Tonko collects a state pension of almost $65,000 annually on top of his congressional salary.  Check out this story by YNN.)  I know it’s not illegal. But it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I see an elected official double dipping.

If nothing else, donate your retirement pay to a struggling charity, at least until you truly retire from government “service.”

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