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Gohmert Opposes AIG Tax

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2009 | Kate Thompson ((202)225-3035) | comments
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, made heated comments Thursday in opposition to a House tax plan to reclaim bonuses received by AIG employees.
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By STEVE BANDY,
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, made heated comments Thursday in opposition to a House tax plan to reclaim bonuses received by AIG employees.

H.R. 1586, approved by the Democratic-led House, would impose a retroactive 90 percent tax on bonuses given to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at American International Group and other companies that received at least $5 billion in government bailout money received after Dec. 31, 2008.

The Associated Press reported that Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he expected local and state governments to take the remaining 10 percent of the bonuses, nullifying the payouts.

Gohmert said he voted against the bill for what he called its many Constitutional concerns and failure to address the root of the problem — hastily crafted and passed bailout legislation.

"Here, once again, we're going to hastily do something wrong, good intentioned, but wrong," Gohmert said.

The representative said he was among those calling for Congress to take its time in crafting the stimulus bill back in September.

"We didn't do that," he said. "So, here we are, going to hastily shred the Constitution with an ex post facto law that goes back and says take 90 percent (of the bonus) in taxes. We don't take bad law and make worse law shredding the Constitution.

"I want more than 90 percent. I want 100 percent,"
he continued. "You do that by forcing them into bankruptcy, going back and putting these preferences aside so we get 100 percent and we can get more than just the bonuses in bankruptcy or receivership. That's constitutional."

Gohmert is one of only 17 members currently serving in the House who has opposed all of the bailout bills going back to January 2008 during both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Democrats led the House charge in an attempt to get in front of raging public anger over the AIG bonuses, even though a provision that would have made such payouts illegal was stripped from last month's $787 billion stimulus bill by its Democratic sponsors, according to Associated Press.

The vote to tax back most of the bonuses was 328-93. Voting "yes" were 243 Democrats and 85 Republicans. It was opposed by six Democrats and 87 Republicans.

A competing bill is gaining support in the Senate that would impose a 35 percent excise tax on the companies paying the bonuses and a 35 percent excise tax on the employees receiving the extra funds.

The taxes would apply to all companies receiving government bailout money, but they are clearly geared toward AIG.

The bonuses, totaling $165 million, were paid to employees of troubled insurer AIG over the weekend, including to traders in the unit that nearly brought about the company's collapse.

The bonuses have dominated U.S. news for days, outraging Americans who have been seething for months over the government using their tax dollars to bail out mismanaged financial companies.
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