Democrat Kenley Brunsdale, trying to make some headway in his 1st Congressional District campaign against incumbent Republican Jim Hansen, lambasted Hansen Thursday over the stalled budget negotiations between Democrats in Congress and President Bush.
Although Hansen is not directly involved in the budget negotiations, Brunsdale said Hansen is one of the "sticks in the mud" standing in the way of a budget agreement. "His thoughtless voting strategy, support for unfair taxes that hurt middle-income families and complete lack of leadership on the budget crisis is outrageous."Hansen said Brunsdale is "obviously getting desperate, probably running out of money and is doing everything in his power to get some attention. I don't blame him, that's how the game is played."
Hansen refutes all of Brunsdale's claims, saying, "he doesn't understand the military or how it works and he certainly is stretching the truth."
About 30,000 federal workers live in the 1st District, which includes Hill Air Force Base, Tooele Army Depot and a number of other federal facilities. Many federal workers face unpaid furloughs starting Monday if a budget agreement isn't reached and the automatic cuts in the Gramm-Rudman law aren't avoided.
Brunsdale says Hansen deserves some of the blame because: Hansen voted against the Balanced Budget Act (although Hansen has voted for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution); Hansen has voted "for every exotic weapons program, even an amendment to take $520 million of the F-16 program (our bread and butter at Hill Field) to be spent on `Star Wars' "; Hansen supports Bush's capital gains tax cut "for the rich"; and Hansen is on record for favoring the "bubble loophole," which allows those making over $200,000 to pay 28 percent in federal income taxes while those making less than $200,000 pay 33 percent.
"Hansen places tax breaks for the rich above the importance of a budget agreement that would protect the federal workers in this district," Brunsdale concluded.
"I really don't know what he is talking about," said Hansen. "Capital gains helps everyone. Half of the tax savings would go to people making less than $50,000 a year. I used capital gains when I was a college student.
"I've always taken care of the federal workers at Hill. Heavens, they're my constituency." He did vote to trim back the number of F-16s for the Air Force, but that cut was approved by the Bush administration and what the Air Force asked for. "It wouldn't have affected Hill at all."
He supports "Star Wars" "because who knows when some nut like (Saddam) Hussein will get a delivery system for nuclear weapons. We have to be able to block those missiles out.
"It's down to the wire. Kenley will try anything," Hansen said.