Obama voting record on taxes


McCain Campaign and RNC distort Obama’s record on taxes

Republicans are trying to paint Barack Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal.  Recently, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said “Every time you turn around Barack Obama is not only talking about raising taxes …. he’s voted to do that.”

On June 9, 2008, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds issued the following statement:

“While hardworking families are hurting and employers are vulnerable, Barack Obama has promised higher income taxes, Social Security taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, and tax hikes on job creating businesses. In fact, during just three years in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama has already voted 94 times for higher taxes. Barack Obama doesn’t understand the American economy and that’s change we just can’t afford.”  http://www.standardnewswire.com/news/288542838.html

On June 10, the “Why NOT Barack Obama” blog posted a long invective about Obama being in favor of higher taxes, even during a recession, saying “Obama’s High Tax Platform Will Further Weaken Our Economy”.  Here is the kind of evidence presented:

Obama Voted At Least 94 Times For Higher Taxes In The U.S. Senate. (RNC Research)

  • To Date, Obama Has Voted For A Tax Increase Approximately Once Every Five Days Congress Has Been In Session. (RNC Research; The Library Of Congress Website, thomas.loc.gov)


Are these accusations true?

Quoting from the summary of an analysis by Lori Robertson in FactCheck.org:

“The McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee both claim that Obama has voted 94 times ‘for higher taxes.’ We find that their count is padded.

“After looking at every one of the 94 votes that the RNC includes in its tally, we find:

  • Twenty-three were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all; they were against proposed tax cuts.
  • Seven of the votes were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, while raising them on a relative few, either corporations or affluent individuals.
  • Eleven votes the GOP is counting would have increased taxes on those making more than $1 million a year – in order to fund programs such as Head Start and school nutrition programs, or veterans’ health care.
  • The GOP sometimes counted two, three and even four votes on the same measure. We found their tally included a total of 17 votes on seven measures, effectively padding their total by 10.
  • The majority of the 94 votes – 53 of them, including some mentioned above – were on budget measures, not tax bills, and would not have resulted in any tax change. Four other votes were non-binding motions related to conference report negotiations.

“It’s true that most of the votes the GOP counts would either have increased taxes for some, or set budget targets calling for such increases. But by repeating their inflated 94-vote figure, McCain and the GOP falsely imply that Obama has pushed indiscriminately to raise taxes for nearly everybody. A closer look reveals that he’s voted consistently to restore higher tax rates on upper-income taxpayers but not on middle- or low-income workers. That’s consistent with what he’s said he’d do as president, which is to raise taxes only on those making more than $250,000 a year.”


Same Old Allegations

The Republicans are repeating the tired old argument that taxes are bad and any tax increases will harm the economy.  As Robert Rubin explained “In 1993, the debate was between supporters of [Bill] Clinton’s economic plan – which included revenue increases, principally an income tax increase on the top 1.2% of taxpayers and a small gas tax – and opponents who argued that tax increases of any kind would harm the economy.  Loyal supply-siders such as Jack Kemp and Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal argued that our economic program would harm the economy and lead to higher unemployment. Some were even more specific in their predictions.  ‘I believe this will lead to a recession next year,’ Newt Gingrich said at the time.  ‘This is the Democratic machine’s recession and each one of them will be held personally responsible.'”  [In an Uncertain World, by Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg, Random House, 2004.]

What actually happened was the longest period of uninterrupted economic expansion in the history the United States.  Unemployment fell from 7% to 4% by the end of President Clinton’s second term.  There was a net increase of 20 million private sector jobs.  In contrast, the Bush tax cuts and other Republican laissez-faire policies will be lucky to yield a net increase of 5 million jobs by the end of George W. Bush’s second term, far short of what was required to keep up with population growth.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

The November election will be the time to decide between Republican ideological orthodoxy and Democratic pragmatic results.



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