Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is responding to Samoa News’ clarification regarding Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s recent announcement about the US House of Representatives passing tax credits for American Samoa’s canneries.
On July 31, 2006, Samoa News published a headline which states, “Amata announces passage of tax extension, takes credit for proposal.” Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s campaign website which Samoa News provides a link to on the front page of its website also states, “Amata delighted U.S. House passed her proposal: Wage Credit Tax Benefit for American Samoa.”
“Despite Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s announcements that the House passed her proposal, Samoa News has issued a clarification saying Mrs. Amata Radewagen took credit for the idea not its passage,” Faleomavaega said. “While I will let the people decide what to make of Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s announcement, I will once again ask Samoa News, in the name of responsible journalism, to provide our people with a copy of Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s proposal that she says the House passed. In fairness to Samoa News, I will also ask our other media outlets to do the same since responsible journalism demands proof.”
“As an aside, Samoa News often asks me to provide letters and documentation when I release a media statement and I have always complied with these requests because I believe my work should be a matter of public record and I also believe our people deserve proof of what I say. I also believe our people deserve proof from others.”
“So far, to my knowledge, Mrs. Amata Radewagen has provided no proof to back up her claims that Congress passed her proposal. By saying that Congress passed her proposal, she implies that she submitted a proposal to Congress for consideration.”
“However, to my knowledge, no one in Congress has a copy of Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s proposal or even a letter in which she urged her connections and friends to extend tax credits for American Samoa. To my knowledge, the CEOs of our canneries in California and Pittsburgh do not have a copy of her proposal. Mrs. Radewagen also never contacted my office. So while Mrs. Amata Radewagen may have told Samoa News that she suggested a wage credit proposal, who did she suggest her proposal to other than Samoa News?”
“For the record, let us also be clear about Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s claims that wage credits are her idea. 936 is a wage credit or a profit credit. 30A is also a wage credit. In order to qualify for 30A credits, our canneries must be a 936 company. In other words, Mrs. Amata Radewagen is off to suggest that 936 is irrelevant to this process and she is off to imply that 936 was not also a wage or profit credit.”
“Both 936 and 30A were once Puerto Rico Economic development tax credits and, as I recall, Mrs. Amata Radewagen said Congress would not support anything to do with Puerto Rico and criticized our efforts via Samoa News and other media outlets for getting the Governor of Puerto Rico to support us. I am disappointed that Samoa News did not search its archives and make these facts known.”
“I am also disappointed that, when Mrs. Amata Radewagen criticized me for supporting 936, Samoa News failed to clarify that we pushed for 936 extensions because our canneries said they would accept nothing less than 936. Given that our private sector economy is more than 80% dependent either directly or indirectly on StarKist and Chicken of the Sea, the only way we could protect the jobs of more than 5,000 cannery workers was to push for what the canneries asked us to push for which was 936.”
“While Chairman Thomas supported our 936 provision and included it in the first House bill which passed, I wrote to him on January 31, 2006 and asked if he would consider 30A as an alternative to 936 in order to win a victory in the Senate which was opposed to 936. I informed Chairman Thomas that I had held a meeting in my office on January 24, 2006 with key staff and both canneries and that we reached agreement on 30A two days after the meeting took place.”
“In response, Chairman Thomas accepted our change and included it in HR 5970. At this time, I continue to give all the credit and thanks to God for his guidance, and to our local leaders and people for their prayers and support.”
“Possibly this week, the Senate will take up this legislation and there is some debate about certain provisions that have been included in the larger bill that may delay or hamper the vote. Again, American Samoa is only a small part of a larger package and we have a ways to go before this matter is favorably resolved.”
“For this reason, I ask for your continued support and prayers and I thank the people for their patience and understanding throughout this process. While Mrs. Amata Radewagen has implied that this tax credit should have been extended ten years ago, the truth is tax extenders are not renewed ten years in advance. They are generally renewed the year prior to their expiration and every Hill staffer knows this which leads me to believe Mrs. Amata Radewagen is intentionally trying to mislead our people or she knows nothing about how the legislative process works in Congress. It is up to our people to decide which the case may be.”
“As for 2006 extenders, our extender is not the only one delayed. Republican extenders have also been delayed and this is why Chairman Thomas is pushing for the Senate to pass H.R. 5970. Again, I appreciate the support of those who have put their political differences aside and worked together for the benefit of the people of American Samoa.”
“It is truly regretful that Mrs. Amata Radewagen chose not to be a part of this process. While the Governor, the Fono, our canneries, our local business community, the US Department of the Interior, and Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate joined together to do right by the people of American Samoa, Mrs. Amata Radewagen chose to sit on the sidelines and criticize our efforts every step of the way. Not once did she contact my office and ask how she could help. I can only conclude that she wanted this to fail.”
“I am saddened by Mrs. Amata Radewagen’s choices because in almost twenty years of representing American Samoa in the US House of Representatives, at no time have I ever put my personal feelings above what is best for our people because this office is not my office. It is the people’s office. And I thought that someone running for this office would feel the same. Regardless, I remain hopeful that our extenders will be passed before the end of this year and I will continue to keep the people informed as Congress takes up this important legislation,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.