First District Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) proposed legislation Thursday (March 15) that would trade a 5% surtax on millionaires in exchange for a balanced budget amendment.
“The era of yearly trillion-dollar deficits is unsustainable,” said Crawford. “Extreme partisan politics has kept Republicans and Democrats from addressing this problem. If we are going to take financial calamity off the table both parties will need to come together. Republicans have long championed a balanced budget amendment to force the federal government to live within its means. Democrats have pushed for new taxes on millionaires to address our debt. This reasonable approach can be the beginning of a new era in Washington where Congress puts the needs of the country first and stops burdening future generations of Americans with immense debt.”
Crawford said the idea of an additional 5% income surtax on individuals making more than $1 million annually is an idea floated by Democrats in an effort to raise federal tax revenues. Republicans, who have long touted a balanced budget amendment proposal, have been stymied in that effort.
Crawford — whose district’s average median income is $28,940 — said his plan “is a reasonable compromise both parties should embrace.”
“Most all major accomplishments in Washington happen when both parties work together, and this often means each side accepts something they don’t necessarily like,” said Crawford. “I hope Republicans consider passing a balanced budget amendment important enough to allow asking millionaires to pay a little more on their income over $1 million, and I hope Democrats will recognize this good-faith effort and stop blocking a balanced budget amendment that will fundamentally alter the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars.”
TEA PARTY OPPOSITION
Conservative Republicans were quick to pounce on Crawford’s proposal, particularly Tea Party members who helped boost Crawford to a surprise, historic victory last November.
They were quick with their criticism.
“As the 112th Congress begins to mature, it’s becoming painfully clear that not everyone in the ‘Tea Party freshmen class’ is much of a tea partier. In fact, some of them would fit in more with the coffee party,” wrote Daniel Horowitz on the conservative Redstate.com blog.
“In 2010, we were largely focused on turning over the House from Democrat to Republican. To the extent that we focused on intra-party battles, it was primarily in the Senate races. Consequently, we nominated many sleeper progressives in conservative districts to win back the House. One such member is Rick Crawford (Progressive AR-1),” Horowitz added.
The blog post noted that Crawford scored “a failing 58% from Heritage Action and 53% from the Club for Growth,” two ultra-conservative think tank groups.
The blog also noted that Crawford had no primary opponent this year.
“We are stuck with a progressive OWS [Occupy Wall Street] congressman from a conservative state for another 2 years,” Horowitz said.
CLARK HALL ATTACKS
Crawford will face one of 3 Democrats this fall depending on who wins that primary election in May.
Today, Democratic challenger Rep. Clark Hall (D-Marvell) labeled Crawford’s proposal “flip-flopping on tax policy” and challenged the Republican incumbent to a debate.
“How do we know which Rick Crawford to believe? It’s time he comes clean,” Hall said in a press release. “The people of Arkansas’ First Congressional District deserve a principled representative who they can trust. When Crawford voted against a $1,000 payroll tax cut on six different occasions and called it ‘irresponsible,’ he voted against hard working families struggling to pay for gas and groceries. When he called a 23% national sales tax an ‘interesting concept,’ he spoke against Arkansas families, Arkansas jobs, and fiscal responsibility.”
Hall said Crawford has expressed past interest in fair tax and flat tax proposals.
“Rick Crawford thinks taking all sides of an issue and holding one’s finger up to the political wind will help his election chances. In reality, it’s political cowardice, and the only compromise Rick Crawford has shown willingness for is a compromise of his principles,” Hall said.
Hall also challenged Crawford to a debate, even though a Democratic primary debate has not been settled. One of Hall’s primary challengers, Arkansas State University Economics Professor Gary Latanich, has been running web-based ads asking the question: “Why won’t Clark Hall debate Gary Latanich?”
Forest Boles, campaign manager for the Hall campaign, said details of a Democratic primary debate are being discussed and an announcement would be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
“You can’t hide convictions easily, especially in a debate. That’s why I challenge Rick Crawford to a debate,” Hall said in his statement. “He may bring anyone of his umpteenth and contradictory economic ideas. I will bring my proven record and steadfast conviction that serves Arkansas first.”