Bush Campaign Lies

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #13: Kerry Flip-Flopped On Eliminating Marriage Penalty For Middle Class 

This is the second lie in the 'Kerry's Flip-Flops' series. And let's stipulate the evidence the GOP gives that Kerry supports elimination of the marriage penalty. That's certainly what his campaign literature says. So what about the GOP claim that Kerry voted against eliminating the marriage penalty?

Congressional votes: they're so easy to distort into political attacks in a campaign. The GOP reference S. 1415 in the 105th Congress, and it looks like they say that since Kerry voted for it, that proves he wanted to keep the marriage penalty around. But Kerry never voted for or against S. 1415, since it never came to a final vote. And if one looks up this bill on Thomas, one finds the following description:

"A bill to reform and restructure the processes by which tobacco products are manufactured, marketed, and distributed, to prevent the use of tobacco products by minors, to redress the adverse health effects of tobacco use, and for other purposes."
Hmm. So what does this have to do with the marriage penalty? Well, nothing, of course, which is why we know the GOP is lying about this particular flip-flop. This was a major piece of legislation, and as is often the case, this bill attracted a lot of amendments which were irrelevant (I believe the procedural term is 'non-germane') to the bill itself. Various senators came up with 269 amendments for this particular bill, including S. AMDT 2436, introduced by the lovable Phil Gramm of Texas, which would --- get this --- define terms and conditions under which states could participate in the State Litigation Settlement Account (whatever that means) and eliminate the marriage penalty.

But this amendment was dropped in committee, and never made it to the floor for a vote. So instead, Gramm decided to add his amendment --- this time called S. AMDT 2686 --- to S. AMDT 2437 to S. 1415 instead. Got that? There was S. 1415, a big bill dealing with tobacco, there was S. AMDT 2437 --- which had to do with providing 'a substitute for provisions relating to reductions in underage tobacco usage' --- and then Gramm's amendment to S. AMDT 2437, which would eliminate the marriage penalty and make up the resulting loss in revenue by raiding the National Tobacco Trust Fund. Kerry voted to table Gramm's amendment.

Did he vote this way because he wanted to keep the marriage penalty? That's not likely. Perhaps he wanted to keep the National Tobacco Trust Fund intact, perhaps he didn't want to make S. AMDT 2437 more appealing for whatever reason, or maybe he just objected (like I do) to Gramm's repeated attempts to introduce completely irrelevant amendments into a major piece of tobacco legislation. Whatever the reason, it is misleading at best to point to this vote as evidence that Kerry flip-flopped on eliminating the marriage penalty.

11:33 PM