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Michele Bachmann on Tax Reform

Republican Representative (MN-6); 2011 GOP frontrunner


Took job with IRS: Know the enemy

I took a job with the IRS. I know I might seem strange for me to find such work, as I am now often called an "antitax activist." My ultimate goal was to change the tax code, and help people in their fight to keep more of what they earned. So I chose to learn how to change the system from the inside out, to take a reconnaissance mission inside "enemy" lines. Rule #1" Know the enemy. But the truth is, I am not against taxes per se. I agree with the great Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. And so, for example, I believe that everyone should pay at least some tax, at least a symbolic amount. We all have a duty to make our union ever more perfect, and se we all need a reminder that the government has no money of its own. It has our money, held in trust. So taxes are necessary. But as the Bachmann corollary to Justice Holmes, if taxes are the price we pay for civilization, then the taxes themselves should be civilized--not confiscatory.
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p. 92-93 , Nov 21, 2011

Complexity of tax code almost always favors the IRS

I could see how devastating the US tax code could be, not only to individuals but also to the economy as a whole. They Internal Revenue Code today consists of some 3.8 million words; even the IRS has told me that it doesn't know the exact number of words

Those millions of words in the tax code--many of them opaque, many even contradictory--contain enough traps and snares to catch just about any taxpayer. So I realized that if IRS auditors wanted to nail someone, they usually could do so. And the people who were targeted usually chose to settle, because they knew they couldn't win--or couldn't afford to win--against the IRS.

In other words, the infernal complexity of the tax code almost always favors the IRS. People often end up paying more than they should just to get relief finally from the tax man. Why was it, I would observe, that the government nearly always won and the people nearly always lost?

Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p. 93 , Nov 21, 2011

47% pay no income tax; everyone should pay something

Q: [to Romney]: Why do you believe in a progressive tax system?

ROMNEY: I would like to see our tax rates flatter & simpler. But let's get the job done first to lower the tax rates on middle-income Americans.

Q: Romney would preserve different rates for different people. Why is he wrong?

BACHMANN: Well, I would say President Obama is the one that's wrong, because President Obama's plan for job creation has absolutely nothing to do with the true people who know how to create jobs. He should really be going to job-creators if he wants to know how to create jobs. We know what needs to be done. We have a real problem. When you have 53% of Americans paying federal income taxes, but you have 47% of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, you have a real problem. And that's why in my tax plan, I have everyone paying something because everyone benefits by this magnificent country. Freedom isn't free. We all benefit. We all need to sacrifice. Everybody has to be a part of this tax code.

Source: 2011 CNBC GOP Primary debate in Rochester MI , Nov 9, 2011

If we give Congress 9% sales tax, it'll run up to 90%

Q: You've been very critical of Herman Cain's call for a 9% sales tax.

BACHMANN: One thing I know about Congress is that any time you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn't go away. When we got the income tax in 1913, the top rate was 7%. By 1980, the top rate was 70%. If we give Congress a 9% sales tax, how long will it take a liberal Congress to run that up to maybe 90%? We also have to be concerned about the hidden tax of the value-added tax, because at every stage of production, you'd be taxing that item 9% on the profit. That's the worry.

CAIN: It's not a value-added tax. It's a single tax.

BACHMANN: How do you not have a value-added tax? Because at every level of production you have a profit, and that profit gets taxed. And ultimately, that becomes a value-added tax. It's a hidden tax. And any time the federal government needs revenue, they dial up the rate and the American people think that it's the vendor that creates the tax, but it's the government that creates the tax.

Source: GOP 2011 primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 18, 2011

No national sales tax; no new revenue stream for Congress

Q: [to Cain]: Your 9-9-9 plan would be slapping a 9% sales tax on food and medicine. Why should all Americans should be paying more for milk & bread?

CAIN: The biggest tax a lot of Americans pay is the payroll tax, 15.3%. That goes to 9%. So they've got a 6 percentage point difference to apply to the national sales tax.

BACHMANN: I would have to say the 9-9-9 plan isn't a jobs plan, it is a tax plan. And I would say that from my experience being in Congress but also as a federal tax lawyer, the last thing you would do is give Congress another pipeline of a revenue stream, and this gives Congress a pipeline in a sales tax. A sales tax can also lead to a value added tax. The United States Congress put into place the Spanish-American War tax in 1898. We only partially repealed that in 2006. So once you get a new revenue stream, you're never going to get rid of it. And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil's in the details.

Source: 2011 GOP debate at Dartmouth College, NH , Oct 11, 2011

What you earn is your money, not the government's

Q: Out of every dollar I earn, how much do you think that I deserve to keep?

A: BACHMANN: I think you earned every dollar. You should get to keep every dollar that you earn. That's your money; that's not the government's money. That's the whole point. Barack Obama seems to think that when we earn money, it belongs to him and we're lucky just to keep a little bit of it. I don't think that at all. I think when people make money, it's their money. Obviously, we have to give money back to the government s that we can run the government, but we have to have a completely different mindset. And that mindset is, the American people are the genius of this economy. It certainly isn't government that's the genius. And that's the two views. Pres. Obama has embraced a view of government-directed temporary fixes and gimmicks. They don't work. He's destroyed the economy. What does work is private solutions that are permanent in the private sector. That gives certainty; that will grow our economy.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

Reduce repatriation tax to zero percent

If you want money [for the deficit] , there's $1.2 trillion that of America--American companies have already earned. If we have a zero percent what's called a repatriation tax, overnight we'll see $1.2 trillion that the taxpayers aren't supplying, that they don't have to pay back, that we don't have to borrow from China, overnight we can wash $1.2 trillion.
Source: Response to 2011 Jobs Speech on Fox News "On The Record" , Sep 8, 2011

Health Impact Fee: opposed cigarette tax but voted for life

Q: [to Pawlenty]: In 2005 you levied a new tax on cigarettes, which you called a health impact fee.

PAWLENTY: I did agree to the cigarette fee. I regretted that.

Q: [to Bachmann]: You opposed the tax, but in the end, you voted for it. Now you promis never to raise taxes. Why would you compromise then, but not now?

BACHMANN: I fought against that tax. The problem is, Gov. Pawlenty cut a deal with the special interest groups and he put in the same bill, a vote to increase the cigarette tax as well as the vote that would take away protections from the unborn.

PAWLENTY: Rep. Bachmann didn't vote for that bill because of a stripping away of pro-life protection, she voted for it and is now creating that as the excuse.

BACHMANN: If a member casts a vote one way, they would be increasing the cigarette tax. If they cast a vote another way, they would not be voting for the pro-life protection. It was a choice. The governor put us in that box and I chose to protect human life.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

47% pay no taxes; everyone should pay something

Q: Why isn't anyone talking about the 47% of Americans that don't pay taxes?

A: I am. Simple. Fair. Flat. Everyone should pay something.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Endorsed as small-government, low-tax "Mama Grizzly"

In Alaska, the only thing we take more seriously than a grizzly bear is a mama grizzly with cubs to protect. I call the new generation of American women leaders--many of whom I've met on the campaign trail and in the towns and cities of America--mama grizzlies. These are tough, serious, formidable women like Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of new Mexico, and Carly Fiorina of California. These women are at the forefront of a new wave of strong, confident American women who are positively affecting not just the Republican Party, but America itself. They're building businesses, leading men & women in government--and, while they're at it, raising families.

Michele Bachmann is a congresswoman from the 6th district of Minnesota, the first Republican woman elected to the House from her state. She's a small-government, low-tax, pro-energy independence phenomenon who's also a small-business owner and a mother of five.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p.127-128 , Nov 23, 2010

Put hard earned money back in taxpayers’ pockets

I will work tirelessly to put hard earned money back in taxpayers’ pockets--where it belongs--not in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity. I will continue to support meaningful tax relief, such as:
Source: 2006 House campaign website, michelebachmann.com, “Issues” , Nov 7, 2006

Voted NO 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 NO 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

Repeal the Death Tax.

Bachmann signed H.R.205

Source: Death Tax Repeal Act 09-HR205 on Jan 6, 2009

Taxpayer Protection Pledge: no new taxes.

Bachmann 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

Adopt a single-rate tax system.

Bachmann signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform:

Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words--the length of the original Constitution.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA04 on Jul 8, 2010

Repeal tax hikes in capital gains and death taxes.

Bachmann signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 10. Stop the Tax Hikes:

Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA10 on Jul 8, 2010

No European-style VAT (value-added tax).

Bachmann signed H.RES.1346

Source: Opposing the Imposition of a VAT 10-HRs1346 on May 11, 2010

Supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Bachmann 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: Michele Bachmann on other issues:
MN Gubernatorial:
Mark Dayton
MN Senatorial:
Al Franken
Amy Klobuchar



Lame-duck session 2012:
KY-4: Thomas Massie(R)
MI-11:Dave Curson(D)
NJ-9: Donald Payne Jr.(D)
WA-1: Suzan DelBene(D)

Re-seated Former Reps:
AZ-1: Ann Kirkpatrick(D)
AZ-5: Matt Salmon(R)
FL-8: Alan Grayson(D)
IL-11:Bill Foster(D)
NH-1: Carol Shea-Porter(D)
NV-3: Dina Titus(D)
NY-24:Dan Maffei(D)
TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)

2013 Resignations and Replacements:
AL-1:Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
IL-2:Jesse Louis Jackson(D,resigned)
IL-2:Robin Kelly(D)
MA-5:Ed Markey(D,to Senate)
MA-8:Stephen Lynch(D)
MO-8:Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
MO-8:Jason Smith(R,elected June 2013)
SC-1:Tim Scott(R,resigned)
SC-1:Mark Sanford(R)
SC-1:Elizabeth Colbert-Busch(D)
Newly-elected Democrats:
AZ-9: Kyrsten Sinema
CA-2: Jared Huffman
CA-7: Ami Bera
CA-15:Eric Swalwell
CA-24:Julia Brownley
CA-29:Tony Cardenas
CA-35:Gloria Negrete McLeod
CA-36:Raul Ruiz
CA-41:Mark Takano
CA-47:Alan Lowenthal
CA-51:Juan Vargas
CA-52:Scott Peters
CT-5: Elizabeth Esty
FL-18:Patrick Murphy
FL-22:Lois Frankel
FL-26:Joe Garcia
HI-2: Tulsi Gabbard
IL-8: Tammy Duckworth
IL-10:Brad Schneider
IL-12:Bill Enyart
IL-17:Cheri Bustos
MD-6: John Delaney
MA-4: Joe Kennedy III
MI-5: Dan Kildee
MN-8: Rick Nolan
NV-4: Steven Horsford
NH-2: Annie Kuster
NM-1: Michelle Lujan-Grisham
NY-5: Grace Meng
NY-10:Hakeem Jeffries
NY-18:Sean Maloney
OH-10:Joyce Beatty
PA-17:Matt Cartwright
TX-16:Beto O`Rourke
TX-20:Joaquin Castro
TX-23:Pete Gallego
TX-33:Marc Veasey
TX-34:Filemon Vela
WA-6: Derek Kilmer
WA-10:Denny Heck
WI-2: Mark Pocan
Newly-elected Republicans:
AR-4: Tom Cotton
CA-1: Doug LaMalfa
CA-21:David Valadao
CA-41:Paul Cook
FL-3: Ted Yoho
FL-6: Ron DeSantis
FL-19:Trey Radel
GA-9: Doug Collins
IL-15:Rodney Davis
IN-2: Jackie Walorski
IN-5: Susan Brooks
IN-6: Luke Messer
KY-6: Andy Barr
MI-11:Kerry Bentivolio
MO-2: Ann Wagner
MT-0: Steve Daines
NY-26:Chris Collins
NC-8: Richard Hudson
NC-9: Robert Pittenger
NC-11:Mark Meadows
NC-13:George Holding
ND-0: Kevin Cramer
OH-2: Brad Wenstrup
OH-14:Dave Joyce
OK-1: Jim Bridenstine
OK-2: Markwayne Mullin
PA-4: Scott Perry
PA-12:Keith Rothfus
SC-7: Tom Rice
TX-14:Randy Weber
TX-25:Roger Williams
UT-2: Chris Stewart
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Page last updated: Jun 24, 2013