Bush Campaign Lies
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Unfortunately, I came late to the party on this one. At first I thought that Michael Kinsley had it all covered, but when I went to GOP.com to check it out, they already had a rebuttal to Kinsley. So I had to roll up my sleeves and wade in to the 87 pages of documentation which the GOP provides to verify this claim.
There is one subtle point to make here. Kinsley claims in his article that certain votes are listed multiple times, suggesting shades of lie #3; the GOP says that is not so. The GOP is technically correct; each vote they reference is a unique vote in the Congressional Record. But Kinsley is right in spirit. For procedural reasons, the Senate sometimes takes multiple distinct votes on essentially the same legislation, and an honest accounting wouldn't list these as separate votes. But that's the whole point; the GOP is not providing an honest accounting of Kerry's record.
Another cool trick the GOP uses is to pile on Kerry for voting on legislation which redistributes the tax burden. This is great for the GOP and bad for Kerry, because no matter whether he voted for or against the legislation, he either supported a tax increase for one group or opposed a tax reduction for another.
I'll just tick some examples off the list, because I don't have time to analyze the whole steaming pile of --- votes --- the GOP has provided. When a link to the vote in question is available, I provide it. If not (record of Senate votes is only available online from 1989 forward), I provide legislation, vote date, and vote number.
- (S. Con. Res. 32, CQ Vote #43, 5/7/85) The second vote referenced on the list supported a motion which, if passed, would not have altered the tax law one iota. Rather it was a touchy-feely resolution 'expressing the sense of the Senate' that Congress should enact a certain kind of tax legislation. Moreover, the tax legislation it supported would have decreased the amount of farm losses which could be deducted from non-farm income (ah-ha! A tax increase!), with the additional revenues used to 'reduce income tax rates for individuals'. Boy, they really nailed Kerry with that one. And at least 24 of the listed votes were on these 'express the sense of the Senate' resolutions, which have no direct effect on taxes.
- (S. Con. Res. 32, CQ Vote #66, 5/9/85) The third item would have maintained cigarette taxes at 16 cents per pack, rather than allowing them to drop to 8 cents a pack, and used the extra revenue to 'offset Medicare premiums increases'. Of course, had Kerry voted the other way, the GOP would have nailed him for allowing those Medicare premiums to go up.
- Similarly, Senate vote 54 in 1992 created the $300 per child tax credit, and the $2000 per year tax-free IRA contribution, and paid for it by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Kerry voted for it. Had he voted against it, the GOP would nail him for voting against the child tax credit.
By the way, every single Republican senator voted against it.
- (S. Con. Res. 120, CQ Vote #78, 4/24/86) At least one item was a vote in support of increased funding 'provided that separate authorizing and revenue-raising legislation is passed'. So Kerry didn't vote for a tax increase, he voted in support of allocating tax revenue in a certain way if the taxes were increased.
- (S. 1127, CQ Vote #352, 10/27/87) It's hard to believe, but according the GOP, Kerry voted to table a resolution which would 'express the sense of the Senate that federal taxes should not be increased either directly or indirectly.' Kerry didn't vote for a tax increase, he just refused to close the door on them altogether. Not the same as voting for higher taxes. Another time he voted against an amendment which would require a 60-vote majority in the Senate to increase taxes. So he didn't vote for a tax increase, he just thought tax legislation should be passed by a simple majority like everything else.
- Three of the votes were allowing certain amendments into the Fiscal 1991 budget, even though they violated a 'non-germane' prohibition on amendments. Each of the amendments would have increased taxes in one way or another. However, Kerry merely voted to allow the amendments to be considered, which is not the same thing as voting for them.
- Similarly, Kerry voted against the introduction of a tax-cutting amendment on procedural grounds, because it violated the Constitution, a view which the full Senate ultimately upheld.
There's no doubt that there are valid instances of Kerry voting for tax increases/against tax cuts/whatever in there, too. If you follow the GOP argument to its logical conclusion, the only way Kerry avoids criticism is if he values low taxes over everything else, including education, the COPS program, health care, counterterrorism, the military, etc. Not even the most anti-government Republican does this.