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Congressman Rehberg Still Avoiding Responsible Debt Solutions

Millionaire Congressman still protects giveaways for his fellow millionaires and Big Oil as debt problems grow.

Helena, MT -- Montana’s millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg engaged in 'political theater' during a debate on the debt ceiling tonight.

While Congressman Rehberg used the occasion to position himself to let America default on its obligations and jeopardize the world's economy, he remains steadfast in his opposition to responsible debt solutions like ending giveaways for millionaires and Big Oil.

“Congressman Rehberg continues to hand out irresponsible tax giveaways to millionaires and his old friends in Big Oil,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “These political games might make Congressman Rehberg popular with big corporate executives, but he is digging a deep hole for Montana families who need responsible debt solutions.”

Here are a few examples of how Congressman Rehberg has failed to rein in the debt by favoring rich special interests:

Congressman Rehberg Opposed Reducing Deficit By $53 Billion By Closing Loophole Allowing Oil Companies to Avoid Paying Royalties. In February 2011, Rehberg voted against the Markey (MA) Amendment (#27) that required oil companies that hold royalty-free leases allowing them to drill for free on the public's offshore lands to renegotiate those leases so that the public is paid the standard royalty charged for drilling. (GAO estimates that closing this loophole could save up to $53 billion over 25 years) [HR 1, House Roll Call Vote #109, 2/18/11]. The amendment would have saved $1.5 billion in 2011, $53 billion over 10 years [Times-Picayune, 2/18/11].

Congressman Rehberg Supported Adding $70 Billion to the Federal Debt Through Tax Breaks for Millionaires In 2006, Rehberg voted in favor of a $70 billion tax cut bill. The bill extended the Bush tax breaks on capital gains and dividends for two years, but only included a one year patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax that was particularly painful for millions of middle class families. The bill passed 244-185 [HR4297, Vote #135, 5/10/06].

  • The Washington Post wrote that, “This Congress and administration are putting the nation deeper and deeper in debt to benefit a sliver of the population that doesn’t need the help. Someone’s going to have to pay for these deficit-financed tax cuts eventually, and it’s likely to be your grandchildren.” [Washington Post, 5/11/06].

Congressman Rehberg Gave Away $56 Billion to the Wealthiest Americans in 2005 --  In 2005, Rehberg voted in favor of a $56 billion tax cut measure that would extend reduced rates on capital gains and dividends investment income for two years, through 2010. The measure passed 234-197.  [HR4297, Vote #621, 12/08/05]

  • Roughly 40 percent of the benefits of the tax package would go to people with incomes above $1 million.
  • Households with incomes of less than $100,000 would receive an average tax cut of $29. In contrast, the average tax cut for households with incomes of more than $1 million would be $32,000 in 2009 [Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, “Senate and House Reconciliation Tax-Cut Packages Flawed” 11/29/05].

Congressman Rehberg supported a huge corporate tax cut in 2004. In 2004, Rehberg voted in favor of legislation that cut corporate taxes by $140 billion, plus a $10 billion tobacco buyout. The legislation was originally intended to respond to a correct an export subsidy, but it included several unrelated items. Notably, it included an export tax break worth $50 billion over 10 years would be replaced with $140 billion in new corporate tax cuts plus the $10 billion tobacco buyout. The new offerings included $68 million in tax breaks for ship operators, $28 million for importers of ceiling fans and extra depreciation write-offs for small corporate jets. Tax breaks for arrows, fishing tackle boxes and distilled spirits were also included [CQ Today, 6/17/04]. The bill passed 251-178 [HR 4520, Vote #259, 6/17/04].