enate hopeful says Grams is misleading

by George Fairbanks

U.S. Senate candidate James Gibson held a press conference Thursday to demand a public apology from Republican incumbent Rod Grams.
Gibson, an Independence Party candidate, accuses Grams of making misleading statements at a Sept. 18 Chamber of Commerce debate. The issue is largely one of interpretation. Both candidates are using the same statements to argue two different points.
Gibson says Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is in support of paying down the national debt before offering any sort of tax relief. “(Greenspan) said that if Congress was not responsible enough to (pay down the debt), then he would rather see a tax cut as opposed to additional spending,” Gibson said.
Conversely, Grams argues Greenspan never stated the entire budget surplus should go to paying off the national debt. In the debate, Grams told Gibson he agreed with him on paying down the debt. However, Grams says Greenspan hasn’t said the entire surplus should be directed toward the debt.
Grams asserts Greenspan believes tax relief — in addition to paying down the debt — is essential to spur economic growth and development.
The two men butted heads at the debate over just what Greenspan has both said and meant.
Gibson continually asserted his opinion that Greenspan argues for debt reduction. Grams, with equal vigor, countered that Greenspan leaves room for tax relief.
The divide between the two men is perhaps not as large as perceived. Grams never stated that Greenspan or he argued for tax relief over debt payment. Grams argues there is room for both.
At a July 1999 House Banking and Financial Services Committee, Greenspan went so far as to say that paying down the debt should be the first priority, not the only priority.
The statement’s vagueness is the source of the problem between the two campaigns. Gibson interprets it to mean debt payment and nothing else. Grams, on the other hand, finds support for national tax relief.
In a January 1999 Senate Budget Committee testimony, Greenspan said, “I would, one, prefer that we keep the surplus in place. If that proves politically infeasible, cutting taxes is far superior to spending, as far as the long-term stability of the fiscal system and the economy is concerned.”
Whether the allegations leveled by the Gibson campaign will become a serious issue with the voters is unknown.
“If Jim Gibson doesn’t think the taxpayers of Minnesota deserve a tax break, let him campaign on that,” said Grams’ press secretary Kurt Zellers.
Despite the demand for an apology, Grams is unlikely to offer one. Voters will choose among the independent Gibson, the Republican Grams and the Democratic candidate Mark Dayton at the Nov. 7 election.

George Fairbanks welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3221. He can also be reached at [email protected]