The Truth Test: Arcuri on taxes, foreign trade, social security, and economic development


(WKTV) - The latest campaign commercial from Congressman Michael Arcuri's campaign hit the airwaves last week. In it, it states the following:

"NARRATOR: In these tough economic times, someone is looking out for middle class families. Mike Arcuri. In congress, Mike Arcuri has voted to cut our taxes 22 times. He voted against unfair trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas. Arcuri's fought against attempts to privatize social security. And Mike Arcuri led the fight to deliver 490 million dollars in economic development and job creation for our area. Mike Arcuri. Delivering for upstate New York.

ARCURI: I'm Mike Arcuri and I approve this message."

The commercial says that Arcuri voted 22 times for tax cuts. Well, let’s take a look:

Now, while some doing the research may see a “nay” vote occur in the log, these were all with the stipulation of recommitting with instructions, or amendments – standard in the process of a bill. But all of these, ultimately, received a final yes vote from Arcuri.

HR 6081 – tax benefits for military personnel, veterans, and emergency services.

HR 3221 – provided tax credits to first time home buyers and created a standardized property tax deduction of up to $350 for individuals($700 for joint filers) for state and local property taxes, and increased the low-income housing tax credit.

The campaign counts this one twice in their tabulation, as he voted for it twice…including a second time when the amount of the deduction was increased from $350/$700 to $500/$1000.

HR 2419 – Voted to say no to any provision in the Farm Bill that would result in a tax increase.

HR 5140 – Voted for the economic stimulus package which provided tax credit to most taxpayers of between $600 to $1,200.

The campaign also counts this twice, as he also voted in favor of an amendment to this bill to expand the eligibility for rebate checks to include low-income seniors, disable veterans, and widows of veterans.

HR 3996 – Provided a one-year adjustment to exempt an additional 21 million taxpayers from paying the alternative minimum tax income from 2007.

The campaign counts this twice, as Arcuri voted for it when it made the similar but different cuts as found in HR 4351, and expanded the refundable child tax credit to more families in 2008.

HR 3678 – Provided a ban extension of 4 years on state and local taxes on Internet access, and prevented most state and local governments from collecting taxes on electronic commerce such as cable modem and digital subscriber lines.

This is another that the campaign counts twice, as Arcuri also voted to extend that ban from four to seven years.

HR 3648 – Excludes up to $2 million in mortgage debts forgiven or canceled by lenders, through renegotiation or foreclosure, from a homeowner's’s taxable income, and extends through 2014 a provision in existing law that allows taxpayers to deduct private mortgage insurance premiums from their taxes.

HR 2206 - $4.8 billion in small-business tax incentives.

HR 1424 - This bill would allow the government to use up to$700 billion in taxpayer money - $350 billion initially, and the rest with Congress's approval - to buy troubled assets from struggling financial institutions. It would also establish a program whereby the government would offer insurance to companies for their assets rather than buying them. It would also establish 'appropriate standards' for the compensation of executives at companies that sell assets to the government, create a congressional oversight panel and require the government to collect warrants from bailed out companies so they can collect part of any profits that may result from the bailout. The size of bank deposits that the FDIC can insure would also be raised, from $100,000 to $250,000.

Additionally, the bill contains a one-year patch of the alternative minimum tax, a mental health parity provision requiring insures that offer mental health coverage to do so in parity with their medical and surgical coverage, a renewable energy tax credit, tax relief for disaster victims, and many other unrelated tax relief provisions.

These were all voted on by Arcuri, passed both the House and Senate, and met approval by the President, thus becoming law.

Some bills Arcuri voted on, but still had/have the senate and the president to make their way through before they become law:

HR 4351 – Would have prevented 21 million taxpayers from having to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax in the tax year of 2007. This set the AMT exemptions, at the same levels of HR 3996, but does not include the other tax cut extenders. H.R. 4351 includes revenue offsets similar, but not identical to, those in H.R. 3996.

HR 5351 – Would allow new tax credits for investment in clean, renewable energy bonds and qualified energy conservation bonds, and the production of plug-in hybrid motor vehicles,cellulosic alcohol fuel, and electricity from marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy sources.

HR 2776 – Extends tax credits for development of solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy.

HR 7005 – This has to do with the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend through 2008 for individual taxpayers: (1) the offset of nonrefundable personal tax credits against regular and alternative minimum tax(AMT) liability; and (2) the increased alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts.

Increases the alternative minimum tax (AMT) refundable credit amount for individuals who have long-term unused minimum tax credits from prior taxable years. Abates any underpayment of tax attributable to the application of special AMT rules for the treatment of incentive stock options.

HR 7006 - Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2008 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) waive certain limitations on the tax deduction for personal casualty losses attributable to a federally declared disaster occurring after December 31, 2007, and before January 1, 2012; (2) allow expensing of business-related costs for abatement or control of hazardous substances, removal of debris, and repairs related to a federally declared disaster; (3) allow a five year net operating loss carry back period for losses attributable to a federally declared disaster; (4) waive the first-time homebuyer requirement and other requirements for mortgage revenue bond financing of residences in a disaster area; (5) increase the standard mileage rate for the tax deduction for the use of a passenger automobile for charitable purposes; (6) provide additional allocations under the low-income housing tax credit for property affected by a federally declared disaster; (7) expand tax-exempt private activity bond financing to included qualified disaster bonds; and (8) suspend limitations on the charitable tax deduction for disaster relief contributions.

HR 7060 – Would provide tax incentives for investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation; extending the research and development credit, state and local sales tax deduction, and tax relief for individuals through an expansion of the refundable child tax credit.

Several passed the house, AND the senate, and are awaiting approval from the president:

HR 3997 – Included tax provisions and changes to Supplemental Security Income to assist military personnel, families, veterans,volunteer firefighters, and emergency services personnel, volunteers in the Peace Corps, and AmeriCorp program.

HR 6049 –Would provide a one-year extension of the Research and Development Tax Credit and the renewable energy production tax credit for construction of wind energy facilities, as well as tax credits for solar and cellulosic ethanol.

One passed the house AND the senate, but was vetoed by the president:

HR 976 – Also known as the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007, and the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2007, would have also increased the taxes on cigars, cigarettes, cigarette paper, and snuff. 

On "unfair trade agreements that ship our jobs overseas" Arcuri's campaign points to his stances on Foreign Trade…

Arcuri did vote no against the U.S. Peru Trade Agreement,which permits the trade agreement entered into with Peru to be initiated on or after January 1, 2008 / Arcuri’s campaign says this was in an effort to stem the tide of local job loss to foreign nations.

Although Arcuri voted no, there were still enough votes for it that it passed the House and Senate, and became law on December 14, 2007.

And Arcuri has testified before the Trade Commission and House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade on the enforcing and strengthening U.S. trade laws (as to alleviate a negative impact of foreign trade) and to support legislation to address what he called China’s “unbalanced trade practices and currency manipulation, which negatively effect local manufacturing companies like Nucor Steel in Auburn, and Revere Copper and Special metals in Oneida County.”

On fighting against social security privatization:

Now, while it has been a hot topic as to its future…there have been no bills or votes as of yet in regards to privatizing social security, so no legislation to look at.

However, Michael Arcuri says that he strongly opposed privatizing social security, telling the Utica Observer-Dispatch in 2006 that “Privatization will actually make Social Security’s financial status worse and likely require massive benefit cuts.”

According to his campaign, “In his 2006 campaign, Arcuri was the only candidate to sign a pledge to oppose any efforts to privatize Social Security"

On Economic Development…

There are several pieces of legislation which Arcuri has, in fact, voted in favor of, and have passed the House, but are still awaiting passage by the Senate and the President before it can become law. They include:

HR 3246 – Establishes several Regional Commissions,including creating the Northern Border Regional Commission. It would provide a comprehensive regional approach to economic and infrastructure development in the most severely economically distressed regions in the Nation.

*A computed Congressional report estimated a cost of $3 per American over the 2008-2012 period.

HR 5351 – Extends tax credits through 2011 for production of electricity from renewable resources; extends tax credits through 2016 for investment in solar energy and fuel cell property, would allow new tax credit for qualified new renewable energy, among others. The tax incentives are intended to expand production of homegrown fuels, and renewable energy, and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Becoming law…

HR 799 – Would extend the Appalachian Development Act of1965 by five years, authorize appropriations for the Commission through the fiscal year 2011 to carry out regional economic development; provide economic development assistance to critical areas for economic development.

*A computer Congressional report estimated a cost of $2 per American over the 2007-2012 period.

An amended version of this (S. 496), reauthorizing and improving the program of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, did,in fact, pass the house and the Senate, and was signed into law by the President just last week (October 8, 2008). With an estimated cost of less than $2 per American over the 2007-2012 period.




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