Rasoul, Richardson talk budget, taxes

Story by Chris Graham

Bob Goodlatte threw down the gauntlet.

“Their budget proposal calls for $683 billion in new taxes over the next five years. That would mean a tax increase for more than 116 million American taxpayers, who will face an average tax hike of $1,800. And while obviously businesses large and small and wealthier individuals will face higher tax increases, this is something that will hit middle- and lower-middle-income Americans very, very hard,” said Congressman Goodlatte, R-Sixth District, at a March 10 news conference at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave in which he criticized the budget proposal of House Democrats that includes a rollback of the George W. Bush tax cuts for middle-class and wealthy families.

Goodlatte was also critical of Democrats for proposing spending beyond even what spendthrift Republican President George W. Bush put forth in his $3 trillion budget proposal.

But that’s one side of the story. The other comes in the form of a pair of Democrats who are battling for the right to challenge Goodlatte in the November election, Sam Rasoul of Blue Ridge and Drew Richardson of Augusta County.

I asked both Rasoul and Richardson to respond to Goodlatte’s attacks against congressional Democrats.

“It’s a little bit confusing, because the largest deficits in history have occurred during this administration. We’ve nearly doubled our national debt, from five-point-three to nine-point-two trillion dollars over the past seven years,” said Rasoul, 26, who has been running for the Democratic Party nomination for more than a year now.

“We’ve had, unfortunately, just pure fiscal irresponsibility over the past eight to 10 years, and we need to balance our budget. Because when we’re taking on this debt, that’s effectively a tax increase on future generations,” Rasoul said. “So in many respects, I would second what he’s saying. But I hope we’re not just pointing fingers, saying who’s responsible for this. We need to come up with a real solution when it comes to government spending. And I believe in more transparency, through competitive online bidding and other practices.

“Cutting taxes can definitely be a great thing. But you’ve got to cut taxes with those that need the tax cuts the most,” Rasoul said.

“I believe in cutting taxes, but I don’t believe in trickle-down economics, that if you cut taxes for the rich, eventually it will get down to the middle class. I believe that you cut taxes for the middle class, and that generates jobs by increasing spending much more than cutting the taxes for the rich at the very top, who can tend to sit on some of that money,” Rasoul said.

Richardson, 56, who entered the Democratic Party nomination race on Feb. 11, noted the responsibility that Goodlatte has to take up for voting for fiscally unsound budgets during the Bush years.
“Bob Goodlatte, of course, is responsible for voting as a congressman for the past 16 years, and certainly the budget while Republicans were in control of Congress during the first five or six years of the Bush administration. So he shares some responsibility for voting for those. In fact, he voted affirmatively for those budgets, which had deficits,” Richardson said.
“Republicans are using taxes right now, and Bob Goodlatte in particular, with that particular speech about Democrats, the way that they have used national security in the last many years, and that is, they use it as a tool of fear, basically. And I think that’s part of the reason that 59 million people voted for George Bush a second time in 2004. I don’t think it’s going to work this time,” Richardson said.

“I think the case for Democrats to make is that by allowing tax cuts to the rich to expire, we’re not increasing taxes to the middle class, to the working poor. And that is a fact that is the truth, and that needs to be made known, and the fear that is put out for these people needs to be taken away,” Richardson said.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.


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