Washington Times reporter wrote commentary accusing Kerry of proposing tax plan with loophole for wife's family

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

A May 3 Washington Times "Commentary" by nationally syndicated columnist Donald Lambro -- who doubles as the Times' chief political correspondent, reporting on Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign -- quoted economist Kevin Hassett, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, in accusing Kerry of developing a tax plan that carves out a loophole for companies such as H.J. Heinz, in which Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and her family own stock. Lambro paraphrased Hassett, who alleged that the plan -- providing for the taxation of profits corporations earn overseas in order to keep more jobs at home -- includes "a loophole designed to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to [a] few companies," which Hassett said, according to Lambro, "saves Mr. Kerry's family around $33 million."

However, as Slate.com's Timothy Noah explained in an April 15 Chatterbox item, Hassett's argument is "doubtful":

Gene Sperling, former chief of President Clinton's National Economic Council and now a senior economic adviser to the Kerry campaign, told Chatterbox the actual motive behind the exemption is to avoid punishing United States companies that are "trying to penetrate the emerging markets in the world." There's also the question of simple fairness; you can't reasonably argue that overseas workers serving a host country displace workers in the United States. There's no way, for instance, that American-based workers can help an American hotel chain penetrate the market in Tahiti unless they pack up and move to Tahiti.

In addition, Noah reported that Hassett, who is best known for writing the book Dow 36,000: A New Strategy For Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market just before the Internet stock bubble burst, was seeking "payback" against Kerry for using Hassett's concession that "the U.S. tax code definitely provides a strong incentive for sending jobs overseas" in his issue paper on eliminating tax deferral.

Lambro's "Commentary" quoted two other economists -- both from the conservative Cato Institute -- criticizing the Kerry plan: "Kerry's plan is the equivalent of a national economic suicide," Reynolds told Lambro.

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Elections
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2004 Elections
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