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Ben Chandler on Tax Reform

Democratic Representative (KY-6)


Voted YES on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income.

Congressional Summary: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
  1. increase and extend through 2008 the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amounts;
  2. extend through 2008 the offset of personal tax credits against AMT tax liabilities;
  3. treat net income and loss from an investment services partnership interest as ordinary income and loss;
  4. deny major integrated oil companies a tax deduction for income attributable to domestic production of oil or gas.
Wikipedia.com Explanation: The AMT became operative in 1970. It was intended to target 155 high-income households that had been eligible for so many tax benefits that they owed little or no income tax under the tax code of the time. However, when Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the AMT was greatly expanded to aim at a different set of deductions that most Americans receive.

The AMT sets a minimum tax rate of 26% or 28% on some taxpayers so that they cannot use certain types of deductions to lower their tax. By contrast, the rate for a corporation is 20%. Affected taxpayers are those who have what are known as "tax preference items". These include long-term capital gains, accelerated depreciation, & percentage depletion.

Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation, an increasing number of upper-middle-income taxpayers have been finding themselves subject to this tax. In 2006, an IRS report highlighted the AMT as the single most serious problem with the tax code.

For 2007, the AMT Exemption was not fully phased until [income reaches] $415,000 for joint returns. Within the $150,000 to $415,000 range, AMT liability typically increases as income increases above $150,000.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote extends the AMT exemption, and hence avoids the AMT affecting more upper-middle-income people. This vote has no permanent effect on the AMT, although voting YES implies that one would support the same permanent AMT change.

Reference: Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act; Bill H.R.6275 ; vote number 2008-455 on Jun 25, 2008

Voted YES on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes.

H.R.4351: To provide individuals temporary relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT), via an offset of nonrefundable personal tax credits. [The AMT was originally intended to apply only to people with very high incomes, to ensure that they paid a fair amount of income tax. As inflation occurred, more people became subject to the AMT, and now it applies to people at upper-middle-class income levels as well. Both sides agree that the AMT should be changed to apply only to the wealthy; at issue in this bill is whether the cost of that change should be offset with a tax increase elsewhere or with no offset at all. -- ed.]

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. RANGEL: We have the opportunity to provide relief to upward of some 25 million people from being hit by a $50 billion tax increase, which it was never thought could happen to these people. Almost apart from this, we have an opportunity to close a very unfair tax provision, that certainly no one has come to me to defend, which prevents a handful of people from having unlimited funds being shipped overseas under deferred compensation and escaping liability. Nobody, liberal or conservative, believes that these AMT taxpayers should be hit by a tax that we didn't intend. But also, no one has the guts to defend the offshore deferred compensation. So what is the problem?

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. McCRERY: This is a bill that would patch the AMT, and then increase other taxes for the patch costs. Republicans are for patching the AMT. Where we differ is over the question of whether we need to pay for the patch by raising other taxes. The President's budget includes a 1-year patch on the AMT without a pay-for. That is what the Senate passed by a rather large vote very recently, 88-5. The President has said he won't sign the bill that is before us today. Republicans have argued against applying PAYGO to the AMT patch. In many ways PAYGO has shown itself to be a farce.

Reference: AMT Relief Act; Bill HR4351 ; vote number 2007-1153 on Dec 12, 2007

Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends.

Vote to reduce federal spending by $56.1 billion over five years by retaining a reduced tax rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as.
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act; Bill HR 4297 ; vote number 2005-621 on Dec 8, 2005

Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification.

Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bill Rep Thomas [R, CA-22]; Bill H.R.1308 ; vote number 2004-472 on Sep 23, 2004

Voted YES on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit.

Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend the $1,000 per child tax credit that is scheduled to revert to $700 per child in 2005. It would raise the amount of income a taxpayer may earn before the credit begins to phase out from $75,000 to $125,000 for single individuals and from $110,000 to $250,000 for married couples. It also would permit military personnel to include combat pay in their gross earnings in order to calculate eligibility for the child tax credit.
Reference: Child Credit Preservation and Expansion Act; Bill HR 4359 ; vote number 2004-209 on May 20, 2004

Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty.

Vote to pass a bill that would permanently extend tax provisions eliminating the so-called marriage penalty. The bill would make the standard deduction for married couples double that of single taxpayers. It would also increase the upper limit of the 15 percent tax bracket for married couples to twice that of singles. It also would make permanent higher income limits for married couples eligible to receive the refundable earned-income tax credit.
Reference: Marriage Penalty Relief; Bill HR 4181 ; vote number 2004-138 on Apr 28, 2004

50-25-25 budget formula for debt-tax cuts-spending.

Chandler adopted the Blue Dog Coalition press release:

The 33 member Blue Dog Coalition applauds Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) for his commitment to fiscal responsibility. In a floor speech today, Senator Lieberman called for a budget framework that would devote half of the budget surplus to debt reduction, a quarter of the remaining funds to tax cuts, the final quarter to targeted spending increases in America’s priority programs. Senator Lieberman touted a mantra long held by the Blue Dogs that “our top priority must remain debt reduction.”

Senator Lieberman’s position closely reflects the “50-25-25” equation for responsible budgeting long advocated by the Blue Dog Coalition. The Blue Dogs’ formula would extract the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds from the projected budget surplus and use half of the remaining funds to pay down the national debt. After committing 50 percent to debt reduction, 25 percent would be allocated to tax cuts and the remaining 25 percent would fund increases in priority programs, such as education, agriculture, defense, and health care. “The 50-25-25 budget framework is a common sense, fiscally conservative approach that will provide for a healthy economy, lower taxes, and reduction of our national debt. I am pleased that Senator Lieberman stressed the need for fiscal discipline,” said Blue Dog Budget Task Force Co-Chairman, Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS).

“Senator Lieberman got it exactly right,” said Blue Dog Co-Chairman Rep. Jim Turner (D-TX). “We need a budget that meets our commitments and lives up to our responsibilities. Most importantly, we need a budget that adds up. The 50-25-25 framework is a smart, conservative, approach that prioritizes paying down the debt and still leaves room for real tax relief.”

Source: Blue Dog Coalition press release 01-BDC3 on Feb 8, 2001

Rated 33% by CTJ, indicating a mixed record on progressive taxation.

Chandler scores 33% by the CTJ on taxationissues

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CTJ scores as follows:

About CTJ (from their website, www.ctj.org):

Citizens for Tax Justice, founded in 1979, is not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organization focusing on federal, state and local tax policies and their impact upon our nation. CTJ's mission is to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws. Against the armies of special interest lobbyists for corporations and the wealthy, CTJ fights for:

Source: CTJ website 06n-CTJ on Dec 31, 2006

Taxpayer Protection Pledge: no new taxes.

Chandler signed Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge"

Politicians often run for office saying they won't raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing.

In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. While ATR has the role of promoting and monitoring the Pledge, the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is actually made to a candidate's constituents, who are entitled to know where candidates stand before sending them to the capitol. Since the Pledge is a prerequisite for many voters, it is considered binding as long as an individual holds the office for which he or she signed the Pledge.

Since its rollout with the endorsement of President Reagan in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts.

Source: Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" 10-ATR on Aug 12, 2010

Supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Chandler signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge against raising taxes

[The ATR, Americans for Tax Reform, run by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, ask legislators to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in each election cycle. Their self-description:]

In the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases. Since its rollout in 1986, the pledge has become de rigeur for Republicans seeking office, and is a necessity for Democrats running in Republican districts. Today the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is offered to every candidate for state office and to all incumbents. More than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers of my district and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

Opponents' Opinion (from wikipedia.com):In Nov. 2011, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) claimed that Congressional Republicans "are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They're giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader." Since Norquist's pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist's position as "no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell."

Source: Taxpayer Protection Pledge 12-ATR on Jan 1, 2012

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Tax Reform: Ben Chandler on other issues:
KY Gubernatorial:
Steve Beshear
KY Senatorial:
Mitch McConnell
Rand Paul

Retiring to run for other office:

Running for President:
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)

Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)

Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-1:Jay Inslee(D)

Running for Senate:
AZ-6:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
FL-14:Connie Mack(R)
HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
NY-9:Bob Turner(R)
WI-2:Tammy Baldwin(D)
Lost Primary 2012:
IL-16:Donald Manzullo(R)
NJ-9:Steven Rothman(D)
OH-2:Jean Schmidt(R)
OH-9:Dennis Kucinich(D)
PA-4:Jason Altmire(D)
PA-17:Tim Holden(D)
TX-16:Silvestre Reyes(D)

Retiring 2012:
AR-4:Mike Ross(D)
AZ-8:Gabby Giffords(D)
CA-2:Wally Herger(R)
CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
CA-18:Dennis Cardoza(R)
CA-24:Elton Gallegly(D)
CA-26:David Dreier(R)
CA-41:Jerry Lewis(R)
IL-12:Jerry Costello(D)
IL-15:Timothy Johnson(R)
IN-5:Dan Burton(R)
KY-4:Geoff Davis(R)
MA-1:John Olver(D)
MA-4:Barney Frank(D)
MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
NC-9:Sue Myrick(R)
NC-11:Heath Shuler(D)
NC-13:Brad Miller(D)
NY-5:Gary Ackerman(D)
NY-10:Ed Towns(D)
NY-22:Maurice Hinchey(D)
OH-7:Steve Austria(R)
OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
PA-19:Todd Platts(R)
TX-20:Charles Gonzalez(D)
WA-6:Norm Dicks(D)
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Page last updated: Jun 09, 2012