Rep. Bill Owens said that he won't sign Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes because he'd vote to end tax credits for companies that ship jobs overseas — but Mr. Norquist's group, and several independent fact-checking organizations, say that he could sign the pledge and support ending tax credits for the evil outsourcers.
“I applaud Kellie Greene and Matt Doheny for taking the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Taxpayers in New York have clearly shown their displeasure with tax-and-spend policies coming out of Washington, policies that Bill Owens champions,” said Mr. Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, in an email blast on Tuesday. "Bill Owens’ latest line of attack is a rehashed and failed attempt to distort the truth about the Pledge, while taking the attention away from the fact that he is a tax-hiker who has no interest in reining in Washington’s out of control overspending problem.”
Here's how it works: A company that produces widgets gets a $1 million annual tax credit. They ship their jobs overseas. You could eliminate that $1 million tax credit — as long as you make up for that $1 million in additional revenue from the company with tax cuts elsewhere, say, for a company that produces a new and improved type of widget.
What Americans for Tax Reform is really saying is that the federal government doesn't need any more money, not that each company that receives a certain type of tax break should keep that tax break, even if they ship their jobs overseas on boats powered by the tears of the innocent.
What the news release from Americans for Tax Reform doesn't mention, though, is the second part of Mr. Owens' explanation of why he didn't sign on to the pledge: Because he wants the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than about $500,000.
Mr. Norquist's position, from what I've read, is not entirely clear on whether you can both sign the pledge and also support expiration of the Bush tax cuts. I'll update if Americans for Tax Reform gets back to me on that question.
Mr. Doheny and Ms. Greene, the pledge signers who will face off in a June 26 GOP primary, both oppose the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.