Huffington's Ads on Spending

* Your recent "analysis" (Ad Watch, April 8) of my television ads attacking Sen. Dianne Feinstein for inflicting a $27-billion tax increase on Californians, with her vote last year for the Clinton tax bill, was filled with faulty logic and misleading information.

In the ad, I point out that the National Taxpayers Union ranks Feinstein as the eighth-biggest spender in the U.S. Senate. The Times says, oh well, Huffington is "the seventh-highest spender of California's 22 Republican House members." This is a ludicrous and intentionally misleading comparison. Using your logic, given that Feinstein is a bigger spender than her Senate colleague Barbara Boxer, our commercial should have called Feinstein the "No. 1 spender in California's Senate delegation."

Feinstein ranks as the eighth-biggest spender of 100 U.S. senators, and I rank as the 352nd of 439 House members.

Your paper then belittles the legitimacy of the National Taxpayers Union ranking because, it writes, "the group acknowledges that its criteria could penalize prolific legislators." This is hogwash. One can be a prolific legislator and sponsor legislation that controls, or reduces, spending. As the NTU wrote me, The Times completely misrepresented their statement. The only way their study "penalizes" legislators, they wrote, is "reporting the amount of spending they would like to add to the federal ledger. If being prolific means sponsoring numerous spending increase bills, we merely report it to the public, who can then make their own informed judgment."

Feinstein sponsored 31 bills tracked by the NTU's congressional budget tracking system--which, overall, would have cost taxpayers an additional $42 billion. My legislation, overall, would have saved the government $19 billion.

The Times tries to dismiss the $27-billion cost to Californians of the Feinstein-supported Clinton tax bill cited in our ad as somehow inconsequential because "it is based on a study by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank." The Heritage Foundation obtained, through a Freedom of Information Act request, an internal U.S. Treasury report prepared for the President, which detailed the state-by-state impact of the income tax hike contained in Clinton's tax plan. That U.S. Treasury report reveals that the cost to California of the personal income tax hike alone would be $22.5 billion.

The other two major components in the Clinton tax plan--the gas tax hike and the tax on Social Security recipients--are estimated by Heritage to cost $2.6 billion and $2.7 billion, respectively. Not only was our ad based on lower estimates than some groups are giving, the estimated overall cost to California of the tax bill even since we aired the ad has now increased to $37 billion.

REP. MICHAEL HUFFINGTON

R-Santa Barbara

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