Rep. Wayne Owens says he reluctantly voted for the 1990 budget act because there was no other choice. His congressional opponent, Genevieve Atwood, says he failed.
Atwood, a Republican, said she would have voted against the budget act, which passed the Congress this weekend. "It is not a cut-spending bill, it is a raise-taxes bill," she said in a Monday press conference."Campaign and congressional reform must come with any budget reform, I believe, and what happened with this budget is the perfect example," she said. Deals were made by powerful congressmen; one got wineries exempt from government control, another got a certain size cigar exempt, and yet another got a large insurance company in his district exempt.
"There was no choice but to pass this compromise," said Owens, the lone Democrat in Utah's delegation. He was the only delegation member to vote for the final budget act. "But the level of taxation, the level of budget cuts, is approximately the same as the earlier (President Bush) compromise supported by Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch." (Hatch and Garn voted against the final budget).
The final package "is more fair than the previous compromise" originally suggested by Bush, "but less fair than the Democratic alternative," said Owens. "Still, it raises the (income tax) rates considerably on the rich. It has twice as much in cuts as in taxes."
Not so, says Atwood. "This doesn't cut the budget at all. It just doesn't allow as large an increase in government spending as some wanted." The current budget deficit is about $200 billion. The new budget allows for a $316 billion deficit next year, and doesn't reach the $500 billion deficit-reduction goal set by Bush and others, she said.
Owens countered that by opposing all solutions Atwood has "hidden" from the budget discussion. "She never says what she's for, which taxes she'd raise. She refuses to name one federal program that impacts Utah that she'd vote to cut. She stands with the Newt Gingrich, bomb-throwing, anti-Bush part of the Republican Party. She uses RNC (Republican National Committee) money to attack (via an RNC-sponsored TV advertisement) the president's own position."
Atwood said 93 percent of federal income taxes are paid by the top 50 percent of wage earners. "Wayne raised taxes on everyone making $35,000 a year or more. That's the simple fact," she said.
Owens said those making more than $200,000 a year will see a 6 percent increase in their federal taxes. Those making $35,000 to $200,000 will see their taxes go up from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. "That's a fair solution," he said.
Atwood said that Owens, who is running on a platform of succeeding in Congress for Salt Lake County constituents, is really a failure because the Central Utah Project's continued funding failed in the final hours of the session.
"He's said `judge me on the CUP.' Okay. He didn't get it," said Atwood.
"To condemn me is to condemn Jake. We were together until past midnight, no decision was made by me alone. We agreed (on the tactical approach) completely," said Owens.
"I got the measure through the House. It failed in a conference committee because of California gubernatorial politics - the key senator is running for governor. We'll introduce the bill the first day of the next Congress. I hope I'm there. It's reason to send me back, to finish this. It's a true disappointment for me,"