“I can tell you right now, in government I don’t think there’s waste, per se,” Hanabusa says on camera in the Djou advertisement.
“You know that’s not true,” Djou replies in the spot, titled “Out of Control.”
“Our government is wasting billions of dollars,” he goes on to say. “We may be the first generation in American history to leave the next worse off. … I understand that every dollar the government spends comes from a family like yours.”
The Hanabusa clip is the product of selective — and highly questionable — editing. A look at the full video makes it clear that the ad takes Hanabusa’s statement out of context. It also shows that Djou didn’t have such a snappy comeback line when she first made the statement as they sat next to each other at the Smart Business Hawaii debate in January.
The full video includes a question from an audience member about government waste, Hanabusa’s reply and then an answer from Djou as well. To view Hanabusa’s statement in its entirety, you can skip directly to 1:23 in the video (embedding has been disabled by KITV).
After Hanabusa delivers the highlighted line, the crowd bursts into laughter at the suggestion that there’s no government waste. She explains what she meant, saying:
“I think Gov. Lingle, seriously, Gov. Lingle has cut that budget as much as she can. She has cut it. You’ve got a Republican governor — believe me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime — to come in here and cut government. I’m talking about the state. We don’t have any more to cut. We could start cutting departments, which is probably the next discussion we’re going to have. (applause) … Either you’re going to have to cut or you’re going to have to raise taxes for revenues. That’s the decision that’s going to be made.”
Djou was the next to speak and did not refute Hanabusa’s assessment of the state’s fiscal situation.
“You’re not going to hear anybody on this panel, nor, I would imagine, you’re ever going to find a politician argue: I am pro government waste. I like government waste. I think that’s a good idea … But what I think you should do as you listen to the three of us is listen to what our philosophies are. My philosophy always is: The best way to ensure that there isn’t money for government to waste is to make sure they don’t get the money in the first place.”
Hanabusa campaign spokesman Richard Rapoza said the spot takes Hanabusa out of context.
“We want this campaign to be about real issues and fair comparisons, not cheap shots. We’re extremely disappointed in Charles Djou’s deceptive tactics. The clip in his ad is a clumsy attempt to mislead the public with a quote taken grossly out of context,” Rapoza said in a Tuesday e-mail to Civil Beat. “Senator Hanabusa was talking about the state budget, and followed up her statement by defending Governor Lingle — a Republican — for her budget cuts. Voters should be concerned with what appears to be Djou’s heavy-handed attempt to distract voters from his own record.”
Djou’s campaign told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that it was standing by the ad.
“The voters of Hawaii know that government at all levels needs to be reformed to be more responsible, efficient and accountable,” Djou said in a written statement published in the newspaper and on Djou’s website. “I believe that city, state and federal government can all be more efficient. This is something my opponent does not understand. She wrongly believes that government is as efficient as it’s going to get.”
Hanabusa was clearly speaking about the state government and Djou apparently about the federal government — although he never uses the word “federal,” he talks about Americans and billions of dollars, clear indicators that he’s not talking only about Hawaii.
Civil Beat asked the Hanabusa campaign if she believes there is waste in the federal government and, if so, to name recent bills she would have voted against or identify wasteful government spending that should be cut.
“I believe there are areas of the federal budget where we should reconsider our priorities. For example, we should not continue the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-wealthy, since those tax breaks add billions to the deficit while offering little stimulative effect on our economy,” Hanabusa said in a written statement. “I would vote against a bill that would extend those cuts. Nor should we preserve tax loopholes that encourage companies to send American jobs overseas. In both cases, we should redirect those funds toward education and jobs that directly benefit the American public.
“I support pay-go, which requires that all new government spending be offset with savings elsewhere. That was precisely the point with the recent Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act and the bill to assist small businesses — both of which passed despite ‘no’ votes from Charles Djou — which were kept deficit neutral by offsetting costs,” she said.