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Howard Dean on Tax Reform

Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President


End corporate welfare, close loopholes, pay fair share

Q: Which of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 would you change, if any?

A: I plan to roll back all of George W. Bush's reckless tax cuts so we can pay for health care reform and balance the budget. Then I will introduce real tax reform to make the tax code fairer and simpler for working families. We'll ensure that corporations and wealthy Americans pay their fair share, close loopholes and end the corporate welfare that has left middle class Americans footing the country's tax bill.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Taxes" Jan 25, 2004

There was no middle-class tax cut in this country

We ought to get rid of the whole Bush tax cut, and here's why: There was no middle-class tax cut. 60% of us got $304. Has your property tax gone up more than $304 because the president cut cops on the beat, refused to fund special education, refused to fund No Child Left Behind? How about your college tuition? Has that gone up more that $304 because the president cut 84,000 kids off Pell Grants in order to pay for the tax cuts for people like Ken Lay? Your health care, has that gone up because the president cut 500,000 kids off health care?

There was no middle-class tax cut in this country. Somebody has to stand up and say, we cannot have everything. We can't have tax cuts, pay for health care, pay for No Child Left Behind and pay for an adequate defense. I believe we ought to have balanced budgets. I've done it 12 times. That is the real issue in this campaign. The future health of this country depends on a balanced budget. We've got to start telling the truth and stop making promises.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Plan to increase corporate taxes

Q: Will your middle-class tax relief be immediate?

DEAN: The first priority is balancing the budget. What we will do is lay out a plan to balance the budget and include some sort of plan to increase corporate taxes, just as Lieberman has suggested, because corporate taxes are now at the lowest level since 1934, which means the rest of us are paying the rest of the tax burden and that's not fair.

KUCINICH: Dean takes the position that he's going to balance the budget, but he said repeatedly that he won't touch Pentagon spending. Half the discretionary budget of the US goes for the Pentagon. The solution is get out of Iraq, cut the bloated Pentagon budget by 15%, and stop the tax cuts that are going to the wealthy.

DEAN: There are an enormous number of needs in defense that aren't getting met: special operations, an anti-terrorist task force, human intelligence; cyber intelligence; soldiers aren't paid properly. What I will do is leave the Pentagon budget alone.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Cutting payroll taxes is not a bad idea

Q: Have you decided to provide a Social Security tax cut?

A: Cutting payroll taxes is not a bad idea. It's certainly something we're going to look at. Under no circumstances will we take the money to cut payroll taxes out of the Social Security trust fund. That would be absurd. If we end up cutting payroll taxes, which is the most regressive tax there is for low- and moderate-income workers, it will come out of the general fund in the form of a tax credit. We will not touch Social Security.

Source: Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum Jan 11, 2004

Would keep some middle class tax relief from Bush tax cuts

After months of touting his plan to repeal all of Bush's tax cut, Dean is moving toward embracing a tax relief package for middle-income Americans. Dean, like all the Democrats running for president, has assailed the Bush tax cuts as favoring the wealthy But unlike some of his rivals, Dean has said he would not preserve any of the reductions.

The Bush tax cut amounts to $2,015 in 2005 for a family with an income between $73,000 to $145,000. Thus, the Dean plan would effectively increase taxes on that family by $2,015 in the first year of a Dean presidency if he immediately repealed all the cuts. Dean has contended that the Bush cuts don't significantly help most Americans, pointing out that the Bush tax cuts save $112,000 for millionaires, but for 60% of Americans save an average of only $304.

The question now, Dean advisers said, is exactly what form the tax relief proposal might take. It is most likely to be a targeted income-tax reduction for families with children, they said.

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe Jan 7, 2004

Fact Check: Dean says 60% got $304-really 50% got over $470

FACTCHECK on Taxes: Dean understated the value of the Bush tax cuts that he has promised to repeal:

DEAN: If you make over $1 million, you've got a $112,000 tax cut. 60% of us got a $304 tax cut .

FACTCHECK: Actually, half of all US households got MORE than $470 according to the Tax Policy Center. Dean arrives at his figure by averaging in the cuts received by the bottom 60% of households, which includes all those who paid no taxes in the first place and thus got no cut. But that's just as misleading as averaging in the cuts received by the TOP 60%, which produces a figure of $1,948. By Dean's logic, President Bush could claim that 60% of us got nearly $2,000 and he'd be just as correct as Dean. Which is to say, not very.

DEAN CAMPAIGN: Factcheck's objection is that the Governor did not say explicitly that he was referring to the bottom 60%, rather than the top 60%. The Governor is contrasting the huge tax break for the wealthy with the relatively small average cut for most Americans.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

"Bush tax": income tax cuts cause tax rises elsewhere

Dean wants to repeal the tax cuts of the last few years and insisted yesterday that even with higher federal taxes, the middle class will see its overall tax burden shrink. Dean dubbed the Bush tax cuts the "Bush Tax." Since the tax cut, he said, "Your property taxes probably went up. In New Hampshire, property taxes went up an average of $270 per family last year." He said most state budgets are also in crisis due to less federal funding of programs such as special education. "The `Bush Tax' is huge," Dean said "many times greater than most people's refunds." He said the typical American family will "take on $52,000 more in its share of the national debt" in the next six years. He called for "real tax reform" to make the tax code fairer and simpler, eliminating "abusive" tax shelters and cracking down on corporate tax evaders.
Source: John DiStaso, Manchester (NH) Union Leader Dec 19, 2003

Fact Check: Claims 60% got $325 tax cut-really 50% got $470

FACTCHECK on Tax Cut: Dean is getting closer to the facts on this one. In a September debate he falsely claimed that most middle-class people never got a tax cut from Bush. At the most recent debate he had increased his estimate-but still not enough:

DEAN: Bush has given tax cuts to people who make $1 million a year of $112,000. Sixty percent of us got $325.

FACTCHECK: But that's still way too low. In fact, most American households got substantially more than $325 this year from the Bush tax cuts. The median tax cut for 2003 is actually $470, according to a calculation done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (including 25% who are getting nothing because they earn too little to pay taxes). Dean aides insist his $325 figure is valid. They calculated that the average tax cut received by the lowest-earning 60% of American households was $305. That's correct, but hold on. Using Dean's logic, Bush would be justified in claiming that 60% got $1,948. Either figure gives a warped idea of reality

Source: FactCheck.org: 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH Dec 9, 2003

Bush's tax cuts part of master strategy of govt starvation

The president's tax cuts are much more than simply a giveaway to friends. They are part of a master strategy to starve the core programs that have shaped our country's safety net: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and countless other programs designed to ensure that our middle class stays strong and working families can make ends meet.
Source: Winning Back America, by Howard Dean, p.108 Dec 3, 2003

Repeal every penny of Bush tax cuts & balance budget

Q: To balance the budget, wouldn't you have to cut Social Security & Medicare?

DEAN: I'm a strong supporter of Medicare. The rest of our Social Security is not on the table. I'm a strong supporter of Social Security. What you need to do is get rid of every dime of the Bush tax cuts. Some say we should keep the middle-class tax cuts. What middle-class tax cuts? On the average, 60 percent of the people in this country got a $304 tax cut. One percent, which are rapidly writing $2,000 checks to George Bush, got a $26,300 tax cut.

KERRY: When Dean said, "What middle-class tax cut," let me tell him. The Burnett family earned $70,000. But under his plan, they are going to pay $2,178 more in taxes because they lose the child credit, they pay a penalty for being married again because he puts it back, and they lose the 10 percent bracket. Those aren't Bush cuts, those are the Democrat cuts that we worked hard to put in place to protect the middle class.

Source: Democratic Presidential 2004 Primary Debate in Detroit Oct 27, 2003

Middle class received no benefit from Bush tax cut

I stood up against all the president's tax cuts. And I find it somewhat surprising that some folks are supporting some of the Bush tax cuts. They are a mistake. The middle class never got a tax cut for us to defend. Their college tuition went up. Their property taxes went up. Fire and police and first response services are going down and local people are having to pay for that. We ought to get rid of the entire Bush tax cut. It is bad for the economy and it has not created one job.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Tell the truth on taxes: can't afford tax cuts

Q [to Kerry]: Dean suggested he will roll back the increases in some middle-class tax benefits [in the Bush tax cuts]. You have suggested that anyone who walks away from the middle class is not a true Democrat.

KERRY: We Democrats fought hard to put those tax cuts in place. Those represent trying to reach the middle class of America. I think Governor Dean is absolutely wrong. And he's wrong on his facts. The fact is that 32 million American couples get about $1,000 out of the tax cut. The fact is that 16 million American families get $1,500 to $3,000 from it.

DEAN: With all due respect to Senator Kerry that voted for these tax cuts, this is exactly why the budget is so far out of balance. The fact of the matter is that 60% of Americans at the bottom got $325. That is not a tax cut. Tell the truth: We cannot afford all of the tax cuts, [all the programs we want], and balancing the budget. Let's call this one right. Let's be fiscally responsible and balance the budget.

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

People would rather health care than a tax cut

[On paying for healthcare]: We are going to repeal the Bush tax cuts. You can't pay for health insurance if you have those tax cuts. Most middle-class people never got a tax cut from George Bush, and I'm sure they'd rather have health insurance for everybody than the $100 they got from George Bush's tax cut. For less than a third of George Bush's tax cuts, we can cover every man, woman and child in America, and that's exactly what we should do, and we should not wait.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

It's tax cuts OR jobs, healthcare, and education

When Bush passed his second round of tax cuts, this was not his ideological adherence to a discredited economic theory, supply side economics. This was a simple attempt to de-fund the federal government, remove all the new deal programs. That is not what America is all about!

We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts, all of them. We aren't going to just go out and say we should just repeal the President's tax cuts, because if we do people are going to say "No." What we're going to do is respect the voters for a change and say, "would you rather have the President's tax cuts, or would you prefer health insurance for every man, woman, and child? Or to fully fund Special Education? Or would you rather invest in infrastructure and balance the budget so we can have jobs in this country again?" I think that most Americans are going to say, "I'll take jobs, health care, and education because I didn't get the President's tax cut."

Source: Speech at the Take Back America Conference, Washington, DC Jun 5, 2003

Bush's tax cuts made $10,000 debt for every child

Don't vote for any tax cuts of any kind. Let's explain to the American people that tax cuts are killing our jobs and making it impossible for us to have a decent health-care system.

This president has passed the largest tax cut in American history. He's given $1.7 trillion to his corporate friends like Ken Lay, and added $10,000 worth of debt to every child in America. We can do better than that.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Repeal Bush's tax cuts and invest in social programs

President Bush and the GOP have essentially taken money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and used it to finance tax cuts that hurt most Americans. The bulk of those tax cuts went to those in the top 2% of income earners. Left behind are middle class and working people who are paying for their tiny tax cuts by losing their jobs and their health insurance.

The tax cuts (with some exceptions in the estate and retirement areas) should be repealed. Otherwise it is irresponsible to discuss a Medicare pharmacy benefit, money for education, better roads and rail systems, or stronger environmental protection. Those all cost money.

Ask most Americans if they would rather have a tax cut or better health coverage, roads and bridges, and schools for their children, they will choose the latter. They also understand-despite hollow Republican promises-that we cannot do both. The budget must be balanced; we must build the Social Security Trust Fund; and we must invest in Health and Education once again.

Source: Campaign web site, DeanForAmerica.com, "On the Issues" Nov 30, 2002

Bush tax cuts were hooey; don't trust GOP with our money

In Manchester [New Hampshire], a few weeks back, this guy comes up to me and he says, 'Governor, I got my $300 tax cut, and my 401(k) dropped 60 grand.' People know the Bush tax cuts were hooey, including most of the leadership of this country and of the Republican Party, the business-oriented leadership. I don't think we can trust Republicans with our money. They haven't balanced a budget since Eisenhower was president.
Source: Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe Nov 24, 2002

No national sales tax or VAT.

Dean adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA Executive Committee Policy Statement EC-9 00-NGA1 on Feb 15, 2000

Let states independently determine estate taxes.

Dean adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 37 Governors:

We are writing to request equal treatment between states and the federal government on estate tax changes. Regardless of oneís view about phasing out the federal estate tax, the Governors are absolutely united in opposing any action that would discriminate against states in the phase-out of the state and federal estate taxes. This issue needs to be addressed before the Senate goes to conference with the House.

Governors believe that the ability of states to independently determine their own tax revenue policy is a basic tenet of federalism. Moreover, no federal tax bill should be enacted without close consultation with the states.

At the very least, there must be equity in the treatment of the state death tax credit in the tax bill the Congress considers with the proposed phase-out of the federal estate tax. Governors oppose provisions that impose disproportionate impacts on state revenue systems. The changes proposed by the Senate would have abrupt, significant adverse impacts on state revenues at a particularly onerous time for many states. The potential impact on states would begin next year and have a potential impact of between $50 and $100 billion over the next ten years.

We urge the leaders to respect those rights and to restore fairness.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 01-NGA19 on May 23, 2001

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Howard Dean 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