Bee swarms through district with Forbes

In his enduring effort to unseat freshman-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8), state senate President Tim Bee (R) picked up a high-profile endorsement last Friday.

Steve Forbes, the magazine magnate, former presidential hopeful and host of Fox News show “Forbes on Fox,” made a stopover in Tucson with Bee. The two visited a Caterpillar industrial equipment training facility in Green Valley and locally owned Abrams Airborne Manufacturing Inc., before they headed to McMahon’s Prime Steakhouse for a fundraising dinner.

Bee and Forbes lauded Abrams, 3735 N. Romero Road, as a model small business.

“I’m very proud of Abrams,” Bee said. “They’re really an example of what American business is all about.”

Harold Abrams started the company in Tucson in 1965. It specializes in precision sheet metal products, some of which have been used in NASA’s space shuttle program and in defense industry items.

In 2005, Abrams died, passing the company on to his son Gary. For Forbes, such inheritances can pose problems not only for the individuals involved, but also for the health of the greater American economy.

“You’re hit with a 40- to 50-percent tax when you leave this Earth,” Forbes said.

The reference was a direct swipe at the much-maligned “Death Tax,” a levy charged to inheritors of bequeathed assets. Conservative politicians and commentators have long bemoaned the policy as unfair double taxation.

“They would have to spend an inordinate amount of time and brain power to figure out how to transfer from one generation to the next,” Forbes said of family-owned companies like Abrams that want to maintain a firm’s family lineage.

According to Forbes, the tax poses potentially deleterious risks to successful small firms.

“Why destroy something that’s productive?” Forbes said.

The candidate and the publisher also took time to assail the U.S. tax code generally.

Bee, while not willing to endorse the so-called “flat tax,” a simplified income tax plan intended to eliminate the existing code viewed by many as Byzantine, threw in his support for tax reform.

“There’s no question of the need to seriously reform the tax code,” Bee said.

In the 1990s, Forbes popularized the idea of a flat tax rate during his 1996 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He also took aim at the current code.

“It hurts job creation,” Forbes said, adding that the tax code is “anti-American.”

Giffords, Bee’s opponent in the congressional race, recently delivered a State of the District address in Oro Valley, during which, among other issues, she extolled her efforts to increase the flow of federal dollars to the district.

The congresswoman noted that all of the funding requests she has made have been posted on her Web site. Those requests, or so-called “earmarks,” have been the topic of much debate in politics for years.

Many view the process as old-fashioned pork barrel spending and want the practice to end. In her State of the District speech, Giffords explained her position on the issue.

“Honestly, I feel so strongly about the responsible use of tax dollars that I would not have a problem with a complete abolishment of earmarks if such legislation is presented in the House of Representative,” Giffords said. “But while earmarks continue to be utilized in Congress, I am going to fight to make sure that southern Arizona gets its fair share.”

Bee said the congresswoman’s stance on earmarks seems “inconsistent.”

“I believe that we need to have a transparency for all budget policies,” Bee said.

Not counting Friday’s fundraiser, Bee has raised more than $752,000 toward election, according to the most recent Federal Elections Commission records available.

Bee raised more than half of that sum since January.

Showing a similar proclivity for fundraising that helped her election campaign in 2006, Giffords amassed nearly $2 million, according to FEC data.

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