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John Kerry on Tax Reform

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


The middle class has seen their tax burden go up under Bush

The American middle-class family isn't making it right now. The tax cuts has been wiped out by the increase in health care, the increase in gasoline, the increase in tuitions, the increase in prescription drugs. The take-home pay of a typical American family as a share of national income is lower since 1929 and that of the richest 0.1% of Americans is the highest since 1928. Under Bush, the middle class has seen their tax burden go up and the wealthiest's tax burden has gone down. That's wrong.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Support the part of Bush's tax cut given to the middle class

Q: Alan Greenspan suggested to cut benefits or to raise the retirement age. You've promised no changes. Does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?

A: We put together a $5.6 trillion surplus in the '90s that was for the purpose of saving Social Security. If you take the tax cut that Bush gave to Americans in the top 1 percent of America-just that tax cut that went to the top 1 percent of America would have saved Social Security until the year 2075. Bush decided to give it to the wealthiest Americans in a tax cut. I support Bush's tax cut for the middle class, not that part of it that goes to people earning more than $200,000 a year. When I roll it back and we invest in the things that I have talked about to move our economy, we're going to grow sufficiently, it would begin to cut the deficit in half, and we get back to where we were at the end of the 1990s when we balanced the budget and paid down the debt of this country.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Pledges not to raise taxes on earnings under $200,000

Q: Would you be willing to look directly into the camera and, using simple and unequivocal language, give the American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000 a year during your first term?

KERRY: Absolutely. Yes. Right into the camera. Yes. I am not going to raise taxes. Now, I'm going to restore what we did in the 1990s, ladies and gentlemen: pay as you go. We're going to do it like you do it. The president broke the pay-as-you-go rule. I'm pledging I will not raise taxes; I'm giving a tax cut to the people earning less than $200,000 a year. Now, for the people earning more than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money. And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and, Charlie [Gibson, the moderator], I'm sorry, you too.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO Oct 8, 2004

More tax cut for all people earning less than the $200,000

The highest 1% of income-earners in America got $89 billion of tax cut last year. One percent of America got more than the 80 percent of America that earned from $100,000 down. Bush thinks it's more important to fight for that top 1% than to fight for fiscal responsibility and to fight for you. I want to put money in your pocket. I have a proposal for a tax cut for all people earning less than the $200,000. The only people affected by my plan are the top income-earners of America.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Enron received $254 million after the Bush tax cut

Q: How will either one of you cut the deficit by a half in four years?

BUSH: Well look at the budget. One is to make sure Congress doesn't overspend. But let me talk back about where we've been. The stock market was declining six months prior to my arrival. It was the largest stock market correction - one of the largest in history, which foretold a recession. Because we cut taxes on everybody - remember, we ran up the child credit by a thousand, we reduced the marriage penalty, we created the 10 percent bracket - everybody who pays taxes got relief.

KERRY: Most of the 2001 tax cut went to the wealthiest people in the country. Bush came and asked for a tax cut. We wanted a tax cut to kick the economy into gear. You know what he presented us with? A $25 billion give-away to the biggest corporations in America, including a $254 million refund check to Enron.

Source: [Xref Bush] Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Homeland security should come before tax cut for the wealthy

What kind of mixed message does it send when you have $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq, and the president is cutting the COPS program in America? What kind of message does it send to be sending money to open firehouses in Iraq, but we're shutting firehouses who are the first- responders here in America. Bush hasn't put one nickel, not one nickel into the effort to fix some of our tunnels and bridges and most exposed subway systems. That's why they had to close down the subway in New York when the Republican Convention was there. 95 percent of the containers that come into the ports, right here in Florida, are not inspected. Civilians get onto aircraft, and their luggage is X- rayed, but the cargo hold is not X-rayed. Does that make you feel safer in America? Bush thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security. Those aren't my values. I believe in protecting America first.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Offer tax cuts that will help the middle class families

We will provide new tax cuts to help families meet the economic challenges of their everyday lives. We will offer tax credits to help families afford health care, including tax credits for small business; a tax credit to make 4 years of college affordabl to all Americans. Specifically, we will offer a tax credit on $4,000 of tuition for all 4 years of college; and a tax credit to make child care more affordable, cutting taxes by $800 for a typical middle-class family with 2 children in child care.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 22 Aug 10, 2004

More tax cuts for people who make less than $200,000

Let me tell you what we won't do: we won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as President: I will cut middle class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in job creation, health care and education.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Keep child tax credit, and new 10% tax bracket

Q: Which of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 would you change, if any?

A: I will roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. However, I don't believe that we should be raising taxes on the middle class. Specifically, I want to protect the increases in the child tax credit, the reduced marriage penalty, and the new 10 percent tax bracket that helps people save $350 on their first level of income.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Taxes" Jan 25, 2004

Kerry vs. Bush on taxes is a fight we deserve to have

Q: In your career, you voted to raise billions of dollars in taxes. What will you say when President Bush says, "Senator Kerry is going to raise your taxes and I am not"?

That's a fight I look forward to, because if George W. Bush wants to stand there beside me and defend raising taxes for people who earn more than $200,000 a year, which are the only people who might be argued will have a tax increase by rolling back the Bush tax cut that they rushed through, instead of giving all of America health care and education so we truly leave no child behind, that's a fight we deserve to have in this country. That's a fight we will win. I am going to protect the middle class.

And in the course of my career, I have voted for countless numbers of tax cuts. When I arrived in the US Senate, the highest marginal rate was 72%. We took it down to 28%. I voted for cutting the capital gains tax, I voted for tax incentives for businesses.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

GOP tax policy comforts the comfortable

This administration has made its top wartime priority the easing of the tax burden on its wealthiest citizens-the citizens least likely to face sacrifices at home or abroad in a time of war. The president has all but endorsed the most invidious conservative policy of our time: that cutting taxes for the people who least need help, turning budget surpluses into deficits, and piling debts on our children are all useful strategies because they will effectively paralyze our own government- the instrument of our democracy-by denying it the revenues to pay for progress. Using tax dollars to comfort the comfortable while starving the commonwealth has become an item of orthodoxy for the Republican party.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 14 Oct 1, 2003

10% bracket in Bush tax cuts was Democrats' idea

The 10% bracket [in the Bush tax plan] wasn't Bush's idea. It was our idea. It was in keeping with the spirit of the Democratic party to try to help the average American get ahead. Increasingly, average Americans are getting stomped on; there's an unfairness in the workplace; corporate executives are walking away with millions and sticking the average American with the bill. We can cut the deficit in half, we can be fiscally responsible, but we don't have to do it on the backs of the middle class.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Bush tax cuts reach 32 million in middle class

Q [to Kerry]: Dean suggested he will roll back the increases in some middle-class tax benefits [in the Bush tax cuts]. You have suggested that anyone who walks away from the middle class is not a true Democrat.

KERRY: We Democrats fought hard to put those tax cuts in place. Those represent trying to reach the middle class of America. I think Governor Dean is absolutely wrong. And he's wrong on his facts. The fact is that 32 million American couples get about $1,000 out of the tax cut. The fact is that 16 million American families get $1,500 to $3,000 from it.

DEAN: With all due respect to Senator Kerry that voted for these tax cuts, this is exactly why the budget is so far out of balance. The fact of the matter is that 60% of Americans at the bottom got $325. That is not a tax cut. Tell the truth: We cannot afford all of the tax cuts, [all the programs we want], and balancing the budget. Let's call this one right. Let's be fiscally responsible and balance the budget.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

We're tired of being trickled on--Middle class tax cuts now

The Republicans promised with their first tax cut a million jobs would be created. A million were lost. Now they come with another tax cut; they accelerate the highest rate cuts for the wealthiest Americans and wait for the trickle down. Well, a lot of hard working Americans who are tired of getting trickled on. We want to create jobs now by giving a middle class tax cut; by restoring confidence in our economy with fiscal responsibility; and putting Americans back to work now.
Source: Keynote Speech to Massachusetts Democratic Issues Convention Jun 7, 2003

Trade a tax cut for the huge cuts in student loans

I'm fighting for Massachusetts working families. Weld stands for those who want to trade a tax cut for the rich for huge cuts in student loans, no minimum wage hike and massive cuts to education programs.
Source: Dust settles hard on Kerry/Weld debate, s-t.com Sep 18, 1996

They're not Bush tax cuts, they're Democrat tax cuts

Q: To balance the budget, wouldn't you have to cut Social Security & Medicare?

DEAN: I'm a strong supporter of Medicare. The rest of our Social Security is not on the table. I'm a strong supporter of Social Security. What you need to do is get rid of every dime of the Bush tax cuts. Some say we should keep the middle-class tax cuts. What middle-class tax cuts? On the average, 60 percent of the people in this country got a $304 tax cut. One percent, which are rapidly writing $2,000 checks to George Bush, got a $26,300 tax cut.

KERRY: When Dean said, "What middle-class tax cut," let me tell him. The Burnett family earned $70,000. But under his plan, they are going to pay $2,178 more in taxes because they lose the child credit, they pay a penalty for being married again because he puts it back, and they lose the 10 percent bracket. Those aren't Bush cuts, those are the Democrat cuts that we worked hard to put in place to protect the middle class.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit Oct 27, 2003


John Kerry on Voting Record

FactCheck: No, Kerry did not vote 350 times to raise taxes

BUSH_CHENEY CLAIM: "Kerry supported higher taxes over 350 times."

CNN FACT CHECK:Kerry has not cast 350 votes in the Senate to actually increase taxes. Many of the votes were to leave taxes unchanged (in opposition to Republican-proposed cuts), or in support of Democratic tax cut packages instead of larger Republican packages. This could be characterized as "supporting higher taxes," but it's more accurate to say that he opposed lowering taxes, or supported the smaller of two tax cut proposals.

Source: CNN FactCheck on statements by Bush and Kerry: Oct 29, 2004

I supported or voted for tax cuts over 600 times

BUSH: I believe the role of government is to stand side by side with our citizens to help them realize their dreams, not tell citizens how to live their lives. Kerry talks about fiscal sanity. His record in the United States Senate does not match his rhetoric. He voted to increase taxes 98 times and to bust the budget 277 times.

KERRY: I have supported or voted for tax cuts over 600 times. I broke with my party in order to balance the budget, and Ronald Reagan signed into law the tax cut that we voted for. I voted for IRA tax cuts. I voted for small-business tax cuts.

BUSH: Kerry voted to violate the budget cap 277 times. You know, there's a main stream in American politics and you sit right on the far left bank. As a matter of fact, your record is such that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative senator from Massachusetts.

Source: [Xref Bush[ Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Voted NO on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years.

H.R. 2 Conference Report; Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would make available $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years. It would provide $20 billion in state aid that consists of $10 billion for Medicaid and $10 billion to be used at states' judgment. The agreement contains a new top tax rate of 15 percent on capital gains and dividends through 2007 (5 percent for lower-income taxpayers in 2007 and no tax in 2008). Income tax cuts enacted in 2001 and planned to take effect in 2006 would be accelerated. The child tax credit would be raised to $1,000 through 2004. The standard deduction for married couples would be double that for a single filer through 2004. Tax breaks for businesses would include expanding the deduction that small businesses could take on investments to $100,000 through 2005.
Bill HR.2 ; vote number 2003-196 on May 23, 2003

Voted NO on cutting taxes by $1.35 trillion over 11 years.

Vote to pass a bill that would reduce all income tax rates and make other tax cuts totaling $1.35 trillion over 11 years. The bill would increase the standard deduction for married couples subject to the 15% bracket to double that of singles by 2005
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-165 on May 23, 2001

Voted YES on reducing marriage penalty instead of cutting top tax rates.

Vote to expand the standard deduction and 15% income tax bracket for couples. The elimination of the "marriage penalty" tax would be offset by reducing the marginal tax rate reductions for the top two rate bracket
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-112 on May 17, 2001

Voted YES on increasing tax deductions for college tuition.

Vote to increase the tax deduction for college tuition costs from $5,000 to $12,000 and increase the tax credit on student loan interest from $500 to $1,000. The expense would be offset by limiting the cut in the top estate tax rate to 53%.
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-114 on May 17, 2001

Voted NO on eliminating the 'marriage penalty'.

Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes on married couples by increasing their standard deduction to twice that of single taxpayers and raise the income limits on both the 15 percent and 28 percent tax brackets for married couples to twice that of singles
Bill HR.4810 ; vote number 2000-215 on Jul 18, 2000

Voted NO on across-the-board spending cut.

The Nickles (R-OK) Amdendment would express the sense of the Senate that Congress should adopt an across-the-board cut in all discretionary funding, to prevent the plundering of the Social Security Trust Fund
Status: Amdt. Agreed to Y)54; N)46
Reference: Nickles Amdt #1889; Bill S. 1650 ; vote number 1999-313 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted NO on $792B tax cuts.

This vote was on a motion to waive the Congressional Budget Act against the Gramm (R-TX) amendment which would reduce taxes by $792 billion over 10 years by reducing all income tax rates by 10%, effectively eliminating the so-called "marriage penalty".
Status: Motion Rejected Y)46; N)54
Reference: Motion to waive Congressional Budget Amendment in regards to the Gramm Amdt #1405; Bill S. 1429 ; vote number 1999-230 on Jul 29, 1999

Voted NO on requiring super-majority for raising taxes.

Senator Kyl (R-AZ) offered an amendment to the 1999 budget resolution to express the sense of the Senate on support for a Constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)50; N)48; NV)2
Reference: Kyl Amdt #2221; Bill S Con Res 86 ; vote number 1998-71 on Apr 2, 1998

Voted NO on FY99 tax cuts.

Senator Coverdell (R-GA) offered an amendment to the 1999 budget resolution to reduce revenues by $101.5 billion over the next 5 years, to provide middle-class tax reflief
Status: Motion Rejected Y)38; N)62)
Reference: Motion to waive CBA Re: Coverdell Amdt. # 2199; Bill S Con Res 86 ; vote number 1998-55 on Apr 1, 1998

Rated 14% by NTU, indicating a "Big Spender" on tax votes.

Kerry scores 14% by NTU on tax-lowering policies

Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers. The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.

Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Tax Reform: John Kerry on other issues:
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John Edwards
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts