CA17: Honda & Khanna spar on taxes, truthfulness

Rep. Mike Honda this week posted to his campaign’s website a series of “concerns” his supporters purportedly have about Democratic challenger Ro Khanna, but Khanna replies the incumbent is playing it fast and loose with the facts.

honda.jpg“Democrats in the district are concerned that Ro Khanna has consistently supported tax breaks for big corporations and opposes President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the richest two percent of the population,” Honda’s site says, citing a Salon article in which Khanna claimed the current corporate tax rate is too high as well as Mercury News and Forbes articles.

But Khanna’s site notes President Obama and many Democrats support lowering the corporate tax rate as part of comprehensive tax reform; he also said he has consistently opposed tax breaks for big corporations, while Honda has acknowledged the top 35 percent corporate tax rate is not globally competitive. Khanna continues to tout the fact that he has refused to take corporate PAC money (which Honda accepts), although Khanna has received contribution from many Silicon Valley executives.

As for personal income taxes, Khanna said he supported raising taxes on the richest but joined with President Obama in supporting extension of the Bush tax cuts for middle-class families, while Honda supported a budget that would’ve wiped out all of the tax cuts.

“Khanna also supports lowering taxes on corporations’ overseas profits, which means more outsourcing of American jobs,” Honda said on his site, citing a Mercury News article. “Khanna supports the same failed Republican policies that hurt our economy in the first place and puts corporations and the wealthy ahead of the middle class.”

Ro KhannaBut Khanna’s site replies that “President Obama supports lowering corporate taxes on overseas profits so that capital can be used here in America,” and that Honda himself seems to feel likewise. “This position is on his website so it’s puzzling that the Congressman attacks Ro for having the same position.”

And as for “the same failed Republican policies,” Khanna notes he’s the only candidate in the race with a comprehensive jobs plan, and that his book – which argues government must help manufacturing companies compete more effectively – has been praised by labor leaders such as California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. (It should be noted, however, that labor unions are staunchly supporting Honda in this race.)

More, after the jump…

Honda’s site claims “independents throughout the district are concerned that Ro Khanna has a history of stretching the truth. Back in college, he had to step down as student government president when it was discovered that he had deliberately doctored receipts to hide that his student campaign had broken the college’s campaign spending rules. More recently, President Clinton himself criticized Khanna for misleading voters by putting images of Clinton on Congressional campaign materials, falsely implying Clinton’s endorsement.”

Khanna’s site says it’s “incredible” that Honda is attacking Khanna for exceeding the University of Chicago’s student government campaign spending rules by $100 back in 1996.

“Like many people, Ro made a mistake in his youth, and owned up to it,” his site says. “And as Ro has said many times and has put on his website, he is proud of his earlier congressional campaign against a Democrat [Tom Lantos – ed.] who voted for the Iraq War and supported sections of the Patriot Act that led to racial profiling. It was a campaign of principle, which was worth fighting for.”

Honda and Khanna, along with Republican Joel Vanlandingham, will share a stage for the first and only time before the June 3 primary election at a League of Women Voters forum scheduled for 6:45 p.m. this Saturday, May 3, in Fremont’s City Council Chambers, 3300 Capitol Ave. Republican Vanila Singh has refused to attend; she says she won’t take part in any event that includes Vanlandingham, who she believes is a phony candidate drafted into the race by Khanna and his supporters to split the GOP vote.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.