In an escalation of the theme "your-tax-cut-plan-is-worse-than-mine, "which has permeated the race for Congress in Montgomery County, Democratic nominee Michael Barnes charged last week that the Kemp-Roth plan advocated by his opponent, Rep. Newton I. Steers (R-Md), would "halt construction of Metro at 60 miles and send fares skyrocketing."
Steers reacted to Barnes' statement by calling it "absurd, ridiculous." The 8th District congressman said "there is no relationship between Kemp-Roth and Metro financing." Steers emphasized that he is a long-time supporter of building the entire 100-mile Metrorail system.
Ted Lutz. Metro general manager, said because ni specific programs are targeted for cuts in th e Kemp-Roth plan, "no one knows" what effect its passage could have on MEtro. "We do need federal dollars, several billion," Lutz said. "so conceivably it could hurt us. But the cuts might hit the E-1 bomber, or clean air and water, and not Metro."
Barnes called a press conference last week in front of the Silver Spring Metro station, a favorite campaigning spot for Montgomery County candidates, to denounce Kemp-Roth as a "dangerous and devastating" solution to the nation's economic ills. He said Kemp-Roth is "the number one issue in the campaign."
To support his gloom-and-doom forecast, Barnes trotted out Terry Bracey, an assistant secretary of the U. S. Department of Transportation, who agreed that passage of Kemp-Roth could imperil Metro funding because of massive cuts it would necessitate in the appropriations' process.
Steers responded to Bracey's presence at the press conference by saying. "I'm sorry my opponent didn't take advantage of having DOT's ear to get the agency to stop dragging its feet on Metro construction. Unfortunately, DOT has been the chief obstruction to completion of financing Metro in the last couple years."
Steers repeatedly has said Barnes' call for a one-time $25 billion tax cut, would be "more inflationary" than the GOP plan, which would cut federal taxes by 10 percent in each of three years.
Back at the station, Barnes said "the tax revolt of 1978 - if we stick to commonplace proposals - will go down in history as the greatest event of the decade. BUt if the country elects enough Kemp-Roth sponsors, the tax. revoltr and its economic consequences will go into the history books as an economic debacle."
Barnes a former vice chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission, said if Steers and other Kem-Roth advocates "succeed in slashing $100 billion out of the federal budget, our prospects of receiving additional federal dollars (for Metro) will be considerably diminished, and with them our hopes for a completed system."
Steers' answer to that is that he voted to cut $23 billion from the federal budget this year but that "none of it would effect Metro." Steers said he also introduced legislation to provide federal subsidies for Metro to keep fares down.
Barnes reacted to President Carter's anti-inflation program by saying "he didn't overpromise" as some of predecessors did. But Barnes said he "would have gone further, been tougher, in outlining incentives and disincentives for industry and commerce as well as labor."
The Democratc challenger said he believes he is "still slightly behind" his incumbent opponent, but added "the momentum is all with us."