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Bob Graham on Tax Reform

FL Sr Senator (retiring 2004); Democratic Primary Candidate for President


Irresponsible to promise no new taxes

Q: Are you willing to say here and now those famous words, in a Graham presidency there would be no new taxes?

GRAHAM: No, and you don't have to watch my lips saying that word. I believe it's irresponsible, particularly a candidate for the president, to make an announcement in advance that they would never seek to increase federal revenue or reallocate the responsibility for paying the cost to the federal government.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Repeal Bush tax cuts that went to top earners

Q: Let's talk about the economy.

GRAHAM: What we should do? One, we should repeal all of the portions of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which went primarily to the upper incomes. Number two, we should use a portion of that money to give a tax break to middle-income Americans by reducing the tax on the payrolls. That's a place where money actually will be spent, used and energize the economy. Third, we should have an interstate-like program to rebuild America.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Estate tax repeal hurts federal-state relations

Governors and state legislators are chafing under a Congressional timetable that calls for the states to lose their estate tax revenues by 2005 while stretching the repeal of the federal estate tax more gradually over 10 years. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, a Democrat and former governor, said that Congress’s treatment of the states might set a dangerous precedent, particularly in dealing with coming debates like the taxation of sales on the Internet. “It’s going to have an adverse effect on the state-federal relationship on fiscal policy,” Senator Graham said, “with states feeling they are very distinctly the redheaded third cousin at the family picnic.”

About 2% of all estates, those larger than $675,000, are subject to federal estate taxes. Since 1926, the federal government has allowed taxpayers to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against their federal estate tax liability for the amount of death taxes they pay to their states.

Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times Jun 21, 2001

Voted NO on $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years.

H.R. 2 Conference Report; Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would make available $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years. It would provide $20 billion in state aid that consists of $10 billion for Medicaid and $10 billion to be used at states' judgment. The agreement contains a new top tax rate of 15 percent on capital gains and dividends through 2007 (5 percent for lower-income taxpayers in 2007 and no tax in 2008). Income tax cuts enacted in 2001 and planned to take effect in 2006 would be accelerated. The child tax credit would be raised to $1,000 through 2004. The standard deduction for married couples would be double that for a single filer through 2004. Tax breaks for businesses would include expanding the deduction that small businesses could take on investments to $100,000 through 2005.
Bill HR.2 ; vote number 2003-196 on May 23, 2003

Voted NO on cutting taxes by $1.35 trillion over 11 years.

Vote to pass a bill that would reduce all income tax rates and make other tax cuts totaling $1.35 trillion over 11 years. The bill would increase the standard deduction for married couples subject to the 15% bracket to double that of singles by 2005
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-165 on May 23, 2001

Voted YES on reducing marriage penalty instead of cutting top tax rates.

Vote to expand the standard deduction and 15% income tax bracket for couples. The elimination of the "marriage penalty" tax would be offset by reducing the marginal tax rate reductions for the top two rate bracket
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-112 on May 17, 2001

Voted YES on increasing tax deductions for college tuition.

Vote to increase the tax deduction for college tuition costs from $5,000 to $12,000 and increase the tax credit on student loan interest from $500 to $1,000. The expense would be offset by limiting the cut in the top estate tax rate to 53%.
Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-114 on May 17, 2001

Voted NO on eliminating the 'marriage penalty'.

Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes on married couples by increasing their standard deduction to twice that of single taxpayers and raise the income limits on both the 15 percent and 28 percent tax brackets for married couples to twice that of singles
Bill HR.4810 ; vote number 2000-215 on Jul 18, 2000

Voted NO on across-the-board spending cut.

The Nickles (R-OK) Amdendment would express the sense of the Senate that Congress should adopt an across-the-board cut in all discretionary funding, to prevent the plundering of the Social Security Trust Fund
Status: Amdt. Agreed to Y)54; N)46
Reference: Nickles Amdt #1889; Bill S. 1650 ; vote number 1999-313 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted NO on $792B tax cuts.

This vote was on a motion to waive the Congressional Budget Act against the Gramm (R-TX) amendment which would reduce taxes by $792 billion over 10 years by reducing all income tax rates by 10%, effectively eliminating the so-called "marriage penalty".
Status: Motion Rejected Y)46; N)54
Reference: Motion to waive Congressional Budget Amendment in regards to the Gramm Amdt #1405; Bill S. 1429 ; vote number 1999-230 on Jul 29, 1999

Voted NO on requiring super-majority for raising taxes.

Senator Kyl (R-AZ) offered an amendment to the 1999 budget resolution to express the sense of the Senate on support for a Constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)50; N)48; NV)2
Reference: Kyl Amdt #2221; Bill S Con Res 86 ; vote number 1998-71 on Apr 2, 1998

Voted NO on FY99 tax cuts.

Senator Coverdell (R-GA) offered an amendment to the 1999 budget resolution to reduce revenues by $101.5 billion over the next 5 years, to provide middle-class tax reflief
Status: Motion Rejected Y)38; N)62)
Reference: Motion to waive CBA Re: Coverdell Amdt. # 2199; Bill S Con Res 86 ; vote number 1998-55 on Apr 1, 1998

Rated 22% by NTU, indicating a "Big Spender" on tax votes.

Graham scores 22% by NTU on tax-lowering policies

Every year National Taxpayers Union (NTU) rates U.S. Representatives and Senators on their actual votes—every vote that significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers. NTU assigned weights to the votes, reflecting the importance of each vote’s effect. NTU has no partisan axe to grind. All Members of Congress are treated the same regardless of political affiliation. Our only constituency is the overburdened American taxpayer. Grades are given impartially, based on the Taxpayer Score. The Taxpayer Score measures the strength of support for reducing spending and regulation and opposing higher taxes. In general, a higher score is better because it means a Member of Congress voted to lessen or limit the burden on taxpayers. The Taxpayer Score can range between zero and 100. We do not expect anyone to score a 100, nor has any legislator ever scored a perfect 100 in the multi-year history of the comprehensive NTU scoring system. A high score does not mean that the Member of Congress was opposed to all spending or all programs. High-scoring Members have indicated that they would vote for many programs if the amount of spending were lower. A Member who wants to increase spending on some programs can achieve a high score if he or she votes for offsetting cuts in other programs. A zero score would indicate that the Member of Congress approved every spending proposal and opposed every pro-taxpayer reform.

Source: NTU website 03n-NTU on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Bob Graham on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts