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Amy Klobuchar on Tax Reform

DFL Sr Senator (MN)


Extend Bush tax cuts except for those earning over $250K

Klobuchar calls for extending tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush on the middle class, but eliminating cuts for those earning more than $250,000 annually. Klobuchar ties tax reform to fixing the debt problem, and both need to be done in the next year, she said. "We have to find a path where we really send a message to the country and the world that we are serious."

For Bills, what to do about taxes is simple: a flat tax. He favors a solution that would tax every person and business 17.1 percent of their income, with just one or two deductions. That would allow tax returns to shrink to postcard size, and he said it may force some wealthy Americans to pay more.

Congress has three choices to reduce the debt, Bills said: grow the economy, reduce government or raise taxes. He said that cutting government would help the economy grow and could end up bringing in more taxes, even without a tax rate increase.

Source: West Central Tribune on 2012 MN Senate debate , Oct 20, 2012

Roll back tax cuts on people making over $336,000 a year

KENNEDY: Ms. Klobucharís $1.5 trillion increase in taxes would be devastating for the economy and would kill jobs.

KLOBUCHAR: This Congress has taken a $200 billion budget surplus and turned it into a $250 billion budget deficit. One out of 12 federal tax dollars that you pay goes to interest on that debt. We need to roll back the Bush tax cuts on people making over $336,000 a year. Thatís the top 1%; that brings in $56 billion a year. Closing the tax shelters, $70 billion a year; taking back the oil giveaways, that balances the budget. We canít keep living on a credit card.

KENNEDY: If you look at her tax proposal of $1.5 trillion, the top 1% only covers about a third of that. When someone like Ms. Klobuchar says she wants to tax the rich, the middle class gets drenched.

KLOBUCHAR: The proposals Iíve made does not change the tax cut for the middle class, in fact it adds tax cuts for the middle class. Weíre going to pay for it by rolling back the tax cut on those in the top 1%.

Source: Minnesota 2006 3-way Senate Debate, sponsored by LWV , Oct 30, 2006

Reduce $250B deficit by rolling back capital gains & top 1%

Q: 57,000 households in Minnesota make over $200,000 a year. A lot of small businesses, people who create the jobs. And you want to come along and pound them with a new tax increase by taking away their tax cut. Why?

KLOBUCHAR: Our debt is approaching $9 trillion. This administration and this Congress took a $200 billion surplus and turned it into $250 billion deficit. One out of 12 of the federal tax dollars that Minnesotans are paying goes to interest on this debt. And this is my solution: First of all, letís look at those $70 billion thatís being sheltered in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda for multi-millionaires. Get rid of those shelters. Next, look at capital gains. Not changing the rate, but having a third-party validator like brokerage houses post those because thereís underpayment. That brings in $17 billion. Roll back the tax cuts to the Clinton levels, to the top 1%. That brings another $56 billion in. Get rid of the no-bid contracts so we have competitive bidding, $10 billion.

Source: 2006 MN Senate debate, on Meet the Press , Oct 15, 2006

Middle class tax cuts good; but current cuts are for rich

Iíve talked about rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy. People making over $1.3M per year -- their taxes have gone down 10 times that of the middle class. Iím talking about tax fairness. These tax cuts are going to the wealthiest, and [others] are getting screwed. Itís fine to talk about the middle class needing help and needing tax relief. But the [existing tax cuts] are for their friends who brought them to the dance.
Source: MN 2006 Senate debates - MPR interview , Jan 26, 2006

Voted YES on increasing tax rate for people earning over $1 million.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To put children ahead of millionaires and billionaires by restoring the pre-2001 top income tax rate for people earning over $1 million, and use this revenue to invest in LIHEAP; IDEA; Head Start; Child Care; nutrition; school construction and deficit reduction.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. SANDERS: The wealthiest people in the country have not had it so good since the 1920s. Their incomes are soaring, while at the same time the middle class is shrinking, and we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. The time is now to begin changing our national priorities and moving this country in a different direction.

This amendment restores the top income tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million a year, it raises $32.5 billion over 3 years, and invests that in our kids, including $10 billion for special education. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KYL: The problem is we are spending the same dollar 3 or 4 times, it appears. The Sanders amendment is paid for by raising taxes another $32.5 billion, ostensibly from the rich; that is to say, by raising taxes on people who make over $1 million a year. Here is the problem with that. The budget on the floor already assumes the expiration of the current tax rates; that is to say, the rates on the highest level go from 35% to 39.6%, and that money is spent. If you took all the top-rate income, you would come up with $25 billion a year, not even enough to meet what is here, and that money has already been spent. The reality is somewhere or other, somehow, more taxes would have to be raised. I don't think the American people want to do that, particularly in the current environment. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 43-55

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4218 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S064 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on allowing AMT reduction without budget offset.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To exempt from pay-as-you-go enforcement modifications to the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) that prevent millions of additional taxpayers from having to pay the AMT.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. GRASSLEY: The Senate voted to make sure that middle-class America didn't pay the AMT, and we did it without an offset, by a vote of [about 95%]. So here we are again with an opportunity to say to middle-class America that we are not going to tax the people who were not supposed to be hit by the AMT. This amendment gives us an opportunity to get over that hurdle that is in this budget resolution that, under pay-go, you would have to have an offset for the AMT. Unless my amendment is adopted, the 25 million families who will be hit by the AMT increase will get a tax increase of over $2,000 apiece. They deserve a guarantee of relief.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. CONRAD: If you want to blow a hole in the budget as big as all outdoors, here is your opportunity--a trillion dollars not paid for, a trillion dollars that we are going to go out and borrow from the Chinese and Japanese. That makes absolutely no sense. I urge my colleagues to vote no.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 47-51

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4276 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S078 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on raising the Death Tax exemption to $5M from $1M.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To protect small businesses, family ranches and farms from the Death Tax by providing a $5 million exemption, a low rate for smaller estates and a maximum rate no higher than 35%.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. KYL: This amendment is a reprise of what we did last year in offering to reform the estate tax, sometimes referred to as the death tax. Now, in the budget itself, there is a provision to allow the death tax to be changed from the current law to a top rate of 45% and an exempted amount of $3.5 million, and there are some other features. My amendment would reduce that top rate to no higher than 35% so that if you had more than one rate, at least the top rate could not exceed 35%, and both of the two spouses would have a $5 million exempted amount before the estate tax would kick in. Now, the reason for my amendment is: current law [is] getting up to a high rate of 55% and an exempted amount of either $2 million or $1 million, probably $1 million--a continued unfair burden on primarily America's small businesses and farms.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. CONRAD: This amendment would virtually eliminate the estate tax. Let me say why. Let me first say there is no death tax in the country. Of course, if you poll people and you ask them: Do you want to eliminate the death tax? they will say sure. But you are not going to pay any tax when you die unless you have $2 million. There is no death tax in America. There is a tax on estates. At today's level of $2 million, that affects only 0.5% of estates. When the exemption reaches $3.5 million in 2009, 0.2% of estates will be taxed. If the amendment is agreed to, we would be borrowing money in the name of 99.8% of the American people, borrowing primarily from China & Japan, to give it to the Warren Buffets, the Paris Hiltons, & others of enormous wealth in this country.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 50-50

Reference: Kyl Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.4191 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S050 on Feb 13, 2008

Voted NO on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Amendment would accommodate the full repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, preventing 23 million families and individuals from being subject to the AMT in 2007, and millions of families and individuals in subsequent years.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This amendment repeals the AMT. Except for the telephone tax, the alternative minimum tax is the phoniest tax we have ever passed. The AMT, in 1969, was meant to hit 155 taxpayers who used legal means to avoid taxation, under the theory that everybody ought to pay some income tax.

This very year, more than 2,000 people who are very wealthy are not paying any income tax or alternative minimum income tax. So it is not even working and hitting the people it is supposed to hit. Right now, this year, 2007, the year we are in, there are 23 million families that are going to be hit by this tax. It is a phony revenue machine, over 5 years, $467 billion dollars. We are going to have to have a point of order this year to keep these 23 million taxpayers from paying this tax. We might as well do away with it right now, once and for all, and be honest about it.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The reality of the budget resolution is this may not have anything to do with eliminating the alternative minimum tax. The one thing it will do is reduce the revenue of the Government over the next 5 years by $533 billion, plunging us right back into deficit. Look, we can deal with the AMT. We have dealt with it in the underlying budget resolution for the next 2 years. There will be no increase in the number of people affected by the AMT for the next 2 years under the budget resolution, and that is paid for. Unfortunately, this amendment is not paid for. It would plunge us back into deficit. I urge my colleagues to vote no.

Reference: Grassley Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.471 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-108 on Mar 23, 2007

Voted NO on raising estate tax exemption to $5 million.

An amendment to raise the death tax exemption to $5 million; reducing the maximum death tax rate to 35%; and to promote economic growth by extending the lower tax rates on dividends and capital gains.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

It is disappointing to many family businesses and farm owners to set the death tax rate at what I believe is a confiscatory 45% and set the exemption at only $3.5 million, which most of us believe is too low. This leaves more than 22,000 families subject to the estate tax each year.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

You can extend all the tax breaks that have been described in this amendment if you pay for them. The problem with the amendment is that over $70 billion is not paid for. It goes on the deficit, which will drive the budget right out of balance. We will be going right back into the deficit ditch. Let us resist this amendment. People could support it if it was paid for, but it is not. However well intended the amendment is, it spends $72.5 billion with no offset. This amendment blows the budget. This amendment takes us from a balance in 2012 right back into deficit. My colleagues can extend those tax cuts if they pay for them, if they offset them. This amendment does not pay for them; it does not offset them; it takes us back into deficit. It ought to be defeated.

Reference: Kyl Amendment; Bill S.Amdt.507 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-083 on Mar 21, 2007

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Amy Klobuchar on other issues:
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Jim Abeler
Julianne Ortman
Mike McFadden

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