Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2nd District candidates spar on taxes, earmarks

It's debate season for U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., left, and her opponent, State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, right.

It's debate season for U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., left, and her opponent, State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, right.

October 15, 2008

— Republican Lynn Jenkins and Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda on Tuesday had sharp exchanges over taxes and budget earmarks during a televised debate.

The two face off against each other on the Nov. 4 ballot for the 2nd District congressional seat, which Leavenworth County, Topeka, Manhattan and much of eastern Kansas.

As in their two previous debates, Jenkins accused Boyda of voting for the largest tax increase in the U.S. history.

Boyda said the charge was not true. “It has been debunked over and over and over,” she said.

Jenkins was referring to Boyda's vote in 2007 on a nonbinding budget resolution that would have allowed the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to expire in 2010 and 2011, which is how they were set up when approved earlier by the Republican-controlled Congress at the time.

Boyda said the resolution she supported had no effect on taxes and promised that when the time came she would fight to maintain the middle class tax cuts before they expire.

Then Boyda brought up Jenkins' vote in 2002 for a $294 million tax increase when Jenkins was a state senator.

“You promised you weren't going to raise taxes,” Boyda said. “Three weeks later you voted for (a) $294 million” tax increase, she said.

But Jenkins said the tax increase was needed to balance the state budget. “Not only do we balance the budget ... we do it in spite of all of the unfunded mandates that come down from the federal government,” she said.

Jenkins said she has signed a pledge not to increase taxes, while Boyda hasn't. “And that's a huge difference,” Jenkins said.

But Boyda added, “I have not voted for tax increases. Lynn, you said you were not going to vote for tax increases and then voted for” the $294 million increase.

The two also tangled over budgetary earmarks

Jenkins accused Boyda of voting for frivolous projects and wasteful spending that are added to appropriations bills by individual lawmakers.

But Boyda said earmark abuse has been reduced significantly since she has taken office, and that some earmarks serve vital purposes such as getting funding for a wastewater plant for a small town.

Boyda said she was the first member of Congress to put her earmark requests online so the public could see them. But Jenkins scoffed, saying that Boyda put the earmark requests online “trying to buy our votes. My vote is not for sale.”

During the debate, Boyda criticized Jenkins for opposing proposals to reduce the budget deficit by closing tax loopholes enjoyed by big oil, insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

But Jenkins said the federal government didn't need more tax dollars and could save $300 billion by cutting waste and fraud. She handed out a half-page proposal from the conservative Heritage Foundation that listed the proposal.

Meanwhile, Boyda criticized Jenkins, who is the state treasurer, for failing to find a problem in disbursing $15 million in gas receipts to counties during her first six years as treasurer. But Jenkins said she was proud of her staff for finding the problem, which she said started before she took office.

And Jenkins chided Boyda for using tax dollars for so-called robo calls. But Boyda said she used funds from her franking privilege to let people know she would be in their town if they wanted to meet with her and receive information about what was happening in Congress. She said there was nothing political about the calls.

The one-hour debate will be rebroadcast on KSNT-TV in Topeka, Sunflower Broadband Channel 8, at noon Saturday.


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