Bush Campaign Lies

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #11: Kerry Voted for Higher Taxes Over 350 Times 

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.

All of this is in the first sixth of the GOP document. It's clear that they don't expect many people to give the document much scrutiny --- who's going to research every item in an 87-page document in excruciating detail? Kinsley is right; the main reason the GOP is making this charge is in the hopes of focusing attention on Kerry's voting record, rather than Bush's record in office.

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.

11:42 PM