Editor’s Note: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa submitted the following op-ed in response to a Civil Beat Fact Check.

Civil Beat recently ran a fact check on Charles Djou’s claim in a televised debate that I “voted against the small business tax relief bill that just went before the Congress.” While Civil Beat was of the opinion that the statement was true, I believe it is clearly inaccurate to refer to the bill as a “small business tax relief bill,” and that my opponent’s statement is false.

The fact check specifically referred to H.R. 6169, which came before the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote this past August. I voted against the measure along with every other Democrat and three Republicans.

In truth, H.R. 6169 was a Republican tax reform bill. It would have required that the next Congress pass a package of changes to the U.S. tax code, meeting very strict criteria embodying conservative Republican tax policy.

The measure reflected neither what was best for our nation nor the advice of most economic experts, who suggest that the best approach to reducing the federal deficit and improving our economy is a mix of spending cuts and revenue enhancements. It also failed to address what I believe are vital principles, including establishing a more equitable tax structure, protecting the vulnerable, promoting domestic manufacturing, and preserving incentives for education, retirement, healthcare, home ownership, and small business.

Moreover, the bill would have curtailed the amount of time a Congressional committee could dedicate to reviewing the proposed changes, as well as limiting the period available for debate on the House floor prior to voting on the bill. While many of us agree on the need for comprehensive tax reform, this is an area that calls for careful consideration, not an expedited process. The American people deserve an open and honest debate about the issues.

Yes, I voted against this potentially devastating piece of legislation. Apparently, given his criticism of my vote, Charles Djou would have joined conservative Republicans in voting along party lines to support it.

I believe that Civil Beat’s fact check went wrong when, rather than considering the actual effect of the bill, they looked instead at its “Findings and Purposes” section. That portion of proposed legislation enumerates the effects the bill should have, from the point of view of the bill’s drafters. However, “Findings and Purposes” sections are often purely political statements and do not necessarily accurately reflect the effects the bill would actually have. They also are not legally binding.

The purpose section of H.R. 6169 states, among many other things, that the bill would make it easier for small businesses to comply with the tax code and reduce the amount of taxes small businesses pay. However, given the proposal’s other, primary effects, calling it a small business tax relief bill is misleading.

In the final analysis, Mr. Djou’s claim was inaccurate because it misstated the actual effect of the bill. Upon examination of the legislation itself, his statement was false.


About the author: Colleen Hanabusa serves in the U.S House of Representatives, representing Hawaii’s First Congressional District. She is currently completing her first term in Congress.

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