Ohio plays key role in battle for Congress

Published: Saturday, September 15, 2012 @ 10:27 PM
Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2012 @ 10:27 PM

Local congressional races

District 10

District profile: All of Montgomery and Greene counties, northern Fayette County

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Mike Turner is running for his sixth term. His challenger is Democrat Sharen Neuhardt, a Greene County attorney. Libertarian David A. Harlow is also on the ballot.

Debate: WHIO-TV Channel 7, the Dayton Daily News and Newstalkradio WHIO are teaming up to host a debate in this race on Oct. 21. More details to come.

District 1

District profile: All of Warren County, part of Hamilton County. Warren was previously represented by Turner and Jean Schmidt. After the 2010 redistricting, all of Warren County was put in one district.

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, is running for his eighth non-consecutive term. His Democratic opponent is Jeff Sinnard. The Green Party candidate is Rich Stevenson and the Libertarian candidate is Jim Berns.

District 4

District profile: One of the largest districts in the state. Includes all or parts of 13 counties including Champaign, Shelby, Auglaize and Logan.

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Republican Study Committee, is running for his fourth term. His Democratic opponent is Jim Slone of Elyria. Libertarian Chris Kalla of Lima is also on the ballot.

District 8

District profile: All of Butler, Preble, Darke, Miami and Clark counties and part of Mercer County. Clark was previously represented by U.S. Rep. Steve Austria who decided not to run again after redistricting.

Candidates: Speaker of the House John Boehner is running unopposed in November.

Two years after Republicans swept away four Ohio Democratic incumbents and seized control of the U.S. House, Democrats are hoping to win back at least three seats this November, which would give the party control of seven of 16 congressional districts.

The party is also hoping Democrat Sharen Neuhardt somehow manages to defeat incumbent Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, in the new 10th district which represents all of Montgomery and Greene counties and part of Fayette.

Just as Ohio figures into the presidential race, it has a key role in the battle over which party controls Congress. Although it may be difficult for the Democrats nationally to win the 25 seats necessary to topple House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., they are poised to spend millions of dollars in an effort to oust Republican incumbents Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Bill Johnson of Marietta.

They also believe they have a chance to defeat Republican Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, particularly if President Barack Obama rolls up a strong victory in Ohio over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Boehner is unopposed and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, are expected to win easily. Turner, too, is a heavy favorite, but Neuhardt has launched a spirited challenge, unveiling her first television commercial last week.

Former Democratic congressman Zack Space of Dover said three of the races “are competitive and the Neuhardt-Turner race could be competitive. If the Montgomery County vote comes in, Sharon Neuhardt has a shot,’’ Space said.

To Republicans, the Democrats are engaging in wishful thinking. Barry Bennett, a Republican consultant in Washington, said Democrats are “still smoking the funny stuff from Charlotte. If they spend a dime in Ohio, it’s wasted money. So spend all you want.’’

It will be the first time candidates have run in the new districts drawn up last year by the Republican-controlled legislature. Because Ohio’s population has not grown as fast as many southern states, the legislature had to eliminate two seats, giving the state just 16.

Based on voting patterns in past elections, Republicans hold the edge in 12 of those districts, including in the 10th.

Turner, elected to the House in 2002, rolled up comfortable re-election victories in his old district, which included parts of Montgomery and Warren counties and all of Highland and Clinton counties. During the last round of redistricting, Ohio Republicans folded Turner into the same district as Rep. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek. When Austria chose not to seek re-election, Turner’s GOP nomination was assured.

“Southwest Ohio knows my record of fighting for Wright-Patt, growing new and innovative jobs in the region and as being a leader,” Turner said in a released statement. “When I travel throughout the community I hear directly from voters that they believe our government needs to focus on reining in spending and on job creation. My work and experience are focused on the issues important to our community.”

Neuhardt, an attorney from Yellow Springs, hopes to mount a stern challenge. She lost to Austria by 16 percentage points in 2008, but Austria’s old district was much more Republican than the new Dayton-area district.

She has about $200,000 in campaign money to finance her race and is airing a biographical commercial on Dayton TV stations. Michael McGovern, a Neuhardt spokesman, said that “we’re excited to be up and introducing Sharen to voters in the Miami Valley. We’ve had the resources to run this campaign.’’

Unless the Turner-Neuhardt race gets close, Ohio’s most spirited battle will probably be in northeast Ohio between two incumbents — Renacci and Democrat Betty Sutton of Copley Twp. When Ohio Republicans eliminated Sutton’s district, she opted to challenge Renacci, a first-term Republican elected in the 2010 sweep.

They are deeply divided on the same issues that have created such a furor in the presidential race. Sutton voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package in 2009 that Renacci said “drove up our debt.’’

Same income, but not taxes in GOP plans

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 3:42 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 3:42 PM


            Same income, but not taxes in GOP plans
Same income, but not taxes in GOP plans

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.

Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the same hours and the same money. The only difference is that one is an employee, the other an independent contractor.

Under the Republican plans, one gets a tax break and the other doesn’t.

That’s because for the first time since the United States adopted an income tax, a higher rate would be applied to employee wages and salaries than to income earned by proprietors, partnerships and closely held corporations.

The House and Senate bills vary in detail, but both end up linking tax rates to a whole new set of characteristics, like ownership, level of involvement, organizational structure or even occupation. These rules, mostly untethered from income level, could raise or lower tax bills by hundreds or thousands of dollars for ordinary taxpayers and millions of dollars for the largest eligible businesses.

“We’ve never had a tax system where wage earners were substantially penalized” relative to other types of income earners, said Adam Looney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Treasury Department official.

So a decorator, an artist or a plumber would have a higher tax rate than an owner of a decorating business, an art shop or a plumbing supply store. A corporate accountant could have a higher rate than a partner in an accounting firm. In the House bill, the head of a family business who works 60-hour weeks would have a higher rate than her brother, who gets an equal share of the profits but spends his days playing “Call of Duty.”

The proposals’ impact rises steeply as paychecks grow. High-income earners — roughly the upper 10 percent — who can take advantage of the new distinctions would be rewarded with substantial gains compared with those who can’t.

Supporters argue that the revised tax regime is an attempt to update the code to reflect changes in the economy. Rather than depend primarily on individual rate cuts to further power the economy, the Republican plans focus on cutting taxes on certain types of business income. The idea is that these businesses will reinvest those higher returns and stimulate growth.

“This is a radically different approach,” said Fred Goldberg, commissioner of internal revenue under President George H.W. Bush.

Corporations and other types of businesses get the biggest cuts. Employees don’t.

“Theoretically, this makes a certain amount of sense in a vacuum,” said Jared Walczak, a senior policy analyst at the conservative Tax Foundation. “It’s just difficult to define what constitutes wage income compared to business income.”

Indeed, economists and tax experts across the political spectrum warn that the proposed system would invite tax avoidance. The more the tax code distinguishes among types of earnings, personal characteristics or economic activities, the greater the incentive to label income artificially, restructure or switch categories in a hunt for lower rates.

Expect the best-paid dentists to turn into corporations so they can take advantage of the new 20 percent corporate tax rate, instead of having to pay a top marginal rate of nearly 40 percent on some of their income. Individual income taxes can be deferred on profits left inside a corporation instead of deposited in a personal account. What’s more, corporations can deduct local and state taxes, which individual filers can’t.

Look for a wave of promotions as staff lawyers on salary suddenly turn into partners to qualify for the 23 percent deduction the Senate bestowed on pass-through businesses.

Pass-throughs, which range from an ice cream stand to multibillion-dollar operations like Georgia-Pacific (a Koch Industries subsidiary) and Fidelity Investments, don’t pay corporate taxes. Instead, they pass through income to their owners or shareholders, who pay taxes at the ordinary rate on their individual returns.

The Republican provisions applying to pass-throughs have been singled out for some of the greatest scorn. Writing about the House version, Dan Shaviro, a professor of taxation at New York University …(Continued on next page)

Law School who worked on the 1986 tax overhaul, said it “might be the single worst proposal ever prominently made in the history of the U.S. federal income tax.”

Uneven treatment is compounded by other rules that unintentionally introduced preferences.

To prevent certain professionals and specialists like investment managers, doctors, athletes, performers and others from reorganizing themselves as pass-throughs, the Senate excluded households with joint incomes of $500,000 or more (and $250,000 for single taxpayers). But the peculiar way the income scale is phased out means that solo practitioners and partners who earn roughly $529,000 to $624,000 could face a tax of up to 85 percent on income between those two thresholds, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“Wage income will be the highest taxed income,” said John L. Buckley, a chief of staff for Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation in the 1990s. “I think it’s grossly unfair. Somebody working for a wage gets a higher tax rate than somebody doing the same job under a different legal structure.”

Trump trying to help push Moore across Alabama finish line

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 2:19 PM
Updated: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 2:19 PM


            PENSACOLA, FL - DECEMBER 08: U.S. President Donald Trump walks on stage as he holds a rally at the Pensacola Bay Center on December 8, 2017 in Pensacola, Florida. Mr. Trump was expected to further endorse Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore who is running against Democratic challenger Doug Jones in the adjacent state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
            Joe Raedle
PENSACOLA, FL - DECEMBER 08: U.S. President Donald Trump walks on stage as he holds a rally at the Pensacola Bay Center on December 8, 2017 in Pensacola, Florida. Mr. Trump was expected to further endorse Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore who is running against Democratic challenger Doug Jones in the adjacent state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***(Joe Raedle)

President Donald Trump is trying to push embattled GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore across the finish line in Tuesday’s election in Alabama by contending the Democratic nominee would oppose “what we must do” for the nation.

Trump, in a tweet early Saturday, hours after boosting Moore’s campaign during a Florida rally, framed the race as a referendum on his efforts to reshape the country and said Democrat Doug Jones would work in lockstep with his party’s leaders on Capitol Hill to oppose the Trump agenda.

With Moore denying allegations of sexual misconduct that have arisen late in the campaign, Trump basked in what he called “a big contingent of very enthusiastic Roy Moore fans” at the Friday night event in Pensacola, the Florida Panhandle city near the state line with Alabama.

In a rally cry to Alabama voters, the president tweeted that “we can’t have” a liberal in the mold of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holding the seat in a Senate where the GOP holds a slim 52-48 edge.

“Need your vote to Make America Great Again! Jones will always vote against what we must do for our Country,” Trump wrote.

At the campaign-style event in Pensacola, Trump claimed Jones was the Democratic leaders’ “total puppet and everybody knows it.”

Trump’s wide-ranging speech also touched on the immigration system and the nation’s economic performance since he took office. As Trump spoke about Moore, the Republican candidate tweeted Trump’s comments to his own followers.

Trump also taunted Beverly Nelson, one of Moore’s accusers, who had presented a yearbook inscription by Moore as a key piece of evidence that the candidate knew his accuser. Nelson said Friday she had added a notation marking the date and place where it was signed.

“Did you see what happened today? You know, the yearbook? Did you see that? There was a little mistake made,” Trump said, shifting to singsong. “She started writing things in the yearbook.”

Nelson’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said a handwriting expert has found Moore’s signature in the 1977 yearbook to be authentic.

Moore, who is 70, is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including accusations that he molested two teenage girls and pursued romantic relationships with several others while in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations.

During the rally, Trump also crowed about stock market gains and other upbeat economic indicators. He said he was confident he’d win re-election in 2020, despite his dismal approval rating.

The White House said the rally was a campaign event for Trump. But the location — so close to Alabama and feeding its television markets — stoked speculation that it was a backdoor way for the president to boost Moore’s campaign without actually setting foot in the state.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the president and White House have made clear that the Moore allegations are “troubling and concerning” and “should be taken seriously.” He also noted that Moore has maintained his innocence, and said that should be considered as well.

“Ultimately his endorsement is about the issues,” Shah said.

Trump, who overcame allegations of sexual misconduct to win last year’s presidential election, looked past the charges against Moore and formally endorsed the former Alabama judge this past week for the seat once held by Jeff Sessions, now U.S. attorney general.

Friday’s campaign rally was Trump’s first since September, when he went to Alabama to campaign for Sen. Luther Strange, who lost the GOP runoff election to Moore.

Republicans step up attacks on FBI officials over handling of Clinton, Trump probes

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 9:33 AM

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and any ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump, Republicans in the Congress have joined Mr. Trump in stepping up attacks on the FBI, raising questions about political bias inside the top ranks of that agency, an effort that could well form the basis for partisan opposition to the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Those sentiments were on full display last Thursday at the first Congressional oversight hearing for the new FBI Director, as Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly pressed Christopher Wray for answers on GOP allegations that partisan bias among top FBI officials had infected both the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the review of any ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

At the hearing, it didn’t take long for Republican frustration to boil over, as the FBI Director repeatedly refused to give detailed answers about the Clinton and Trump probes, saying – accurately – that the Inspector General of the Justice Department was reviewing how those matters were handled, as Wray sidestepped GOP requests for information.

But that didn’t matter to GOP lawmakers.

“I think you’re walking into a Contempt of Congress,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) snapped, criticizing Wray for fending off a variety of questions, as a number of GOP lawmakers all but asserted that the FBI was illegally withholding information from Congress on a number of fronts.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCJsU39AMQk&w=640&h=390]

Republicans also pressed for more background about two leading FBI officials, who were involved in both the Clinton and Trump probes, demanding more information about Peter Strzok and Andrew Weissman, who GOP lawmakers say expressed anti-Trump feelings to others inside the Justice Department, impacting both of those probes.

Tied into all of this is the contention of some in the GOP that the FBI wrongly used the controversial “dossier” put together about President Trump during the 2016 campaign – which the GOP says was paid for by the Democrats – and possibly funneled to the FBI for its use.

“I mean, there are all kinds of people on Mueller’s team who are pro-Clinton,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as some Republicans suggested a top to bottom review of key people in the Russia investigation to see if they are harboring anti-Trump sentiments.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR4o_I-NNUQ&w=640&h=390]

During the over five hour hearing, Democrats asked Wray several times about President Trump’s recent assertion that the FBI was in “tatters” after the stewardship of former Director James Comey.

“I am emphasizing in every audience I can inside the bureau, that our decisions need to be made based on nothing other than the facts and the law,” Wray said.

But judging from the reaction at this oversight hearing – which could have covered any subject – the biggest concern for Republicans right now is pursuing allegations that the FBI was too lenient on Hillary Clinton, and too quick to investigate Donald Trump.

President Trump gives boost to Roy Moore at Florida rally

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 9:21 PM

Just fifteen miles from the Alabama border, President Donald Trump used a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida on Friday night to make the case for controversial GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore, telling cheering supporters that his administration needs to keep that Senate seat in GOP hands, to insure that Mr. Trump’s agenda can move through the Congress.

“We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat, who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” the President said of the special election on Tuesday for U.S. Senate in Alabama.

“Responding to someone in the crowd who was chanting Moore’s name, the President heartily agreed.

“This guy is screaming, ‘We want Roy Moore!’ He’s right,” Mr. Trump said, as he made the case for Moore in a next-door state.

In his rally, the President gave a familiar campaign stump speech, mixing attacks on the news media with a pitch for a variety of proposals, like tougher measures on illegal immigration, and money for his proposed border wall.

But to achieve that, the President said it was imperative that Republicans win in Alabama on Tuesday.

“Get out and vote for Roy Moore!” Mr. Trump said to cheers.