The Congressman says the measure included a tax increase; his challenger takes issue.

The alternative minimum tax was devised in the late 1960s as a way to make the richest of the rich pay their taxes.

The problem arose when the decision was made not to adjust that for inflation, resulting in increasing numbers of people being caught in the AMT web. Congress has traditionally taken care of the matter by approving temporary fixes to prevent that from happening.

That has hit a snag this year, as the potential for as many as 25 million people, many of them in the $75,000-$200,000 income bracket, to see an average tax increase of $2,000.

Congress has not been able to come to an agreement on a bi-partisan bill that keeps that from happening due to the $50 billion in lost revenue that would result from the fix.
U.S. Rep. John “Randy” Kuhl, R-29, is in favor of the fix, but voted against a bill passed by the House last week to do just that, because he said it increased taxes to make up the gap.

“The Senate passed a bill last week that would index the AMT without any tax increases in it,” he said Thursday morning, during his weekly telephone press conference call. “The House majority has not taken the same position, as a result of the adoption of the ‘paygo' rule, it’s meant, in my estimation, to give the majority the ability to raise taxes under the guise of pay as you go. The House fix included tax increases, which I did not support, because I don’t believe you need to put permanent increases in to take care of a temporary problem.”

Eric Massa, Kuhl’s Democratic challenger in 2006 and candidate for the 29th District seat in 2008, stressed the importance of keeping the deficit in check, and not increasing it any more.

“Randy Kuhl has been spending money like a drunken sailor,” he said, “and after 20 years in the Navy, this is something I know something about.

“When you give $2 million to a bowling alley and increase taxes on the middle class, that is not fiscal responsibility,” Massa added, referring to an announcement made by Kuhl about a bowling alley in Canandaigua that had received money it applied for in a revolving loan fund.

“Randy, through deficit spending, wants to make our children pay for it. I want to pay as you go, like every working family in America has to,” he added. “If it’s important fund it, if it’s not important, don’t write the check.”

The House’s paygo rule is right up Massa’s alley, as he said that is a cornerstone of his platform for Congress. He said that’s not Kuhl’s mindset, though, and commended the House Democratic leadership for pushing through all 12 appropriations bills through without adding to the national deficit.

“Randy Kuhl wants to tax our children with increased deficit spending and that’s wrong,” Massa said. “That’s what happens when you give $2 million to a bowling alley in Canandaigua.

“It’s not only fiscally irresponsible,” he added, “it's stealing from our very friends and neighbors.”

Kuhl said Massa doesn’t know what he’s talking about in regard to the bowling alley, and is just promoting his own political interests.

“Occasionally we announce competitive grants coming through particular agencies,” he said. “In this case, this guy wanted to refinance, so he applied for a loan through the Rural Development Agency.

“He was considered and given a loan,” Kuhl added. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Massa’s AMT solution is to accept the tax proposal made by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-15, that would include an increase on corporate tax rates.

“It would decrease tax rates on those earning less than $200,000, while putting in a 4-percent tax increase on high income earners,” he said. “Four percent's not a lot.”

Kuhl said 50,800 people in the 29th Congressional District could be affected if a fix is not put into place, and believes President Bush will veto the one approved by a 226-193 margin last week.