George W. Bush on Tax Reform

Retroactive tax cuts may bolster faltering economy

President-elect Bush said in an interview published Friday that he was open to the prospect of making tax cuts retroactive to Jan. 1, if that could spur growth in the faltering US economy. Bush called a recent suggestion by congressional Republicans to backdate the tax cut “encouraging” and described himself as “open-minded” to discussing it. But for now he planned to send Congress his original $1.3 trillion, nine-year tax relief package, which would not take effect until 2002. “It’s the plan I campaigned on,“ he said.

”I think the plan ought to not only fulfill the goals, which are reducing all marginal rates, simplifying the code, helping make sure the tax system is more fair to people at the bottom end of the economic ladder, getting rid of the death tax, doing something on the marriage penalty.“ But if it looked as though retroactive tax cuts would help a faltering U.S. economy, then Bush said he would ”make that decision based upon where we are at the time.“

Source: reporting from USA Today Jan 12, 2001

People should not pay more in taxes than they do for food

Today in America, people pay more in federal, state and local taxes than they do in food and clothing and housing.. This isn’t right, folks. We ought to send some of your money back to the people who pay the bills.
Source: Speech in Michigan Nov 4, 2000

Claims lower income people benefit more than rich; untrue

Bush claimed last week that “most of the tax reductions” in his plan would “go to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.” He was wrong.

An analysis by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation shows that in 2005, Bush’s plan would reduce taxes on households making $200,000 or more by $32 billion, or 27% of the total tax cut in that year of $120 billion. Households making less than $40,000 would receive $12 billion in 2005, or 10% of the total.

Bush has said in all the debates that his plan would require people at upper-income levels to pay a greater share of federal income taxes. The analysis shows that households making $200,000 or more in 2005 would pay 27.4% of total federal income taxes under Bush’s plan, just as they do now. Households making $100,000 or more would see their share of the total income tax bill tick up to 25.2%, from 25.1% under current law. Neither calculation considers the effects of the estate tax, which would benefit people at upper-income levels the most.

Source: NY Times analysis of St. Louis debate Oct 19, 2000

Be fair and eliminate death taxes for everyone

GORE [to Bush]: Under the plan that I’ve proposed, 80 percent of all family farms will be completely exempt from the estate tax, and the vast majority of all family businesses would be completely exempt, and all of the others would have sharply reduced. The problem with completely eliminating it goes back to the wealthiest 1 percent. The amount of money that has to be raised in taxes from middle class families would be a heavy burden.

BUSH: Eliminate the death tax completely because people shouldn’t be taxed twice on their assets. It’s either unfair for some or unfair for all. I think if you’ve got tax relief, everybody benefits.

Source: (X-ref Gore) St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Claim that every taxpayer gets relief isn’t true

Bush said: “Everybody who pays taxes is going to get tax relief.” He would cut all tax rates, but a bipartisan congressional panel has found that nearly 27 million Americans might not get the full benefit because they would have to pay another tax originally designed to prevent investors and the wealthy from sheltering too much of their income. The panel said some taxpayers would get no break at all from Bush’s plan, because of the so-called alternative minimum tax.
Source: Associated Press analysis of St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Blueprint: Cut rates, marriage penalty, & death tax

Source: Blueprint for the Middle Class Sep 17, 2000

Don’t eliminate gas tax; ask OPEC to increase supply

On gas prices: Bush said, “The long-term solution is an energy policy. The short-term solution is the price of crude on the market. The administration ought to convince OPEC to increase the supply of crude oil.”

Gore said, “I’m pleased that Saudi Arabia is proposing to increase production. I call on the big oil companies to let that pass through in the form of price reductions at the gasoline filling stations. What we need is not a trickle of relief, we need significant reduction.”

Source: AP article in Washington Post Jul 3, 2000

Use the marketplace to encourage people to save and invest

Bush served as moderator on a panel of community leaders discussing ways to use the marketplace to encourage people to save and invest their money. A few weeks ago, he proposed $1 billion in tax credits to promote 1.3 million new “individual development accounts.” Under that plan, a person who saved as much as $300 could be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match from a bank. The bank could take a federal tax credit for as much as half the amount contributed.
Source: Terry M. Neal, Washington Post, page 14 Apr 26, 2000

New Prosperity Initiative: 6 million tax-free families

Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

End death tax; reduce marriage penalty; more child credits

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

1997 no-tax pledge: judge results, despite breaking pledge

Q: [to Bush & Forbes]: Forbes’ TV ad says that in 1994 you signed a pledge to not support sales tax or business tax increases, and in 1997 you broke the pledge.

BUSH: I led my state, in 1997, to the largest tax cut in Texas history. I laid out a plan that cut $1 billion of property taxes.. I am a tax-cutting person.

FORBES: There was a lot of hedging about this pledge. The pledge was made in 1994. I have a copy of it here, promising not to raise the sales tax or to propose any kind of income tax. When he proposed this bill in 1997 it did have provisions in there for tax increases including increasing a sales tax. Pledges should not be lightly made and a pledge is a promise. Bush’s own staff admits that he broke the pledge. In 1998, I supported you & I would have voted for you. But you did break that pledge.

BUSH: [People] need to look at the results. That’s what’s important. The results are people from all walks of life received a substantial tax cut under me as the governor of Texas.

Source: (cross-ref to Forbes) GOP Debate in Michigan Jan 10, 2000

$8B tax incentives for charitable contributions

Proposed $8 billion - 10% of the non-Social Security surplus - for tax incentives to encourage people to contribute to charities and community groups that offer social services, from prison and drug rehabilitation to job training, mentoring and adult education programs. It is not enough, Bush said, for politicians to merely advocate tax cuts without proposing solutions for social problems. Bush said that governments role is to promote community solutions.
Source: Terry Neal, The Washington Post Jul 23, 1999

Read my tax pledge: No new taxes

Bush signed a tax pledge that says, “If elected president, I will oppose and veto any increase in individual or coporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes.. I will also oppose any further reduction or elimination of of income tax deductions and credits, unless offset dollar for dollar by reducing tax rates.”
Source: Quoted on CNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” Jun 9, 1999

Simplify tax code to stimulate economic growth

Bush said he would present a plan for a flatter and simpler tax code. He said the principal goal of his tax plan is to stimulate economic growth and productivity. A second goal is to return government surpluses to taxpayers, once ‘basic needs’ of society have been met.
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

George W. Bush on Income tax Cut

Gore’s targeted tax cuts apply to too few people

Bush asked the crowd. “How many of you own hybrid electric-gasoline engine vehicles? Raise your hands.” Not a hand in the crowd could be seen.

“Well,” Bush said, “not too many of you are targeted for that tax cut. Now how many of you own a rooftop photo-voltaic system?” Again, no hands.

“You’re beginning to get the drift of ‘targeted,’ ” Bush said. “It’s always the same in my opponent’s plans - it sounds good until you read the fine print.”

Source: Dave Boyer, Washington Times Nov 2, 2000

Gore’s convoluted “targeted cuts” exclude too many people

Bush sought today to make a mockery of Gore’s proposal for tax cuts, portraying it as a loopy marvel of convolution and asserting that his own, vastly more expensive plan was better. Bush said the conditions and qualifications layered into Gore’s $500 billion in “targeted” tax cuts would exclude too many taxpayers and give the government too much control over people’s lives.

Bush asked, “How many of you own hybrid electric-gasoline engine vehicles? That’s one of the criterion necessary to receive tax relief,“ referring to an element of Gore’s environment and energy plan that proposes to reward people who buy such vehicles with one-time tax credits of $1,000 to $6,000. ”How many of you own a rooftop photo-voltaic system?“ Bush then asked, ridiculing Gore’s suggested tax credit for people who put solar panels on the roofs of their houses or businesses. ”If you had one, you’d get tax relief.“

Source: Frank Bruni, NY Times Oct 25, 2000

$500B to people earning under $100K; $800B to those richer

In the fierce debate over tax cuts between Gore and Bush, one fact has gone unnoticed: Both men would allocate roughly the same amount of money-$500 billion over nine years-to people making less than $100,000 a year. The other $800 billion of Bush’s tax cut, including repeal of the estate tax, would mostly go to people in the wealthiest tax brackets.

Gore offers virtually nothing for taxpayers making that much money. Gore selectively targets his tax cuts to married couples and families and also offers credits to nearly 30 million of the working poor.

Bush, instead, emphasizes cutting tax rates, especially the highest rates, so that most of the cuts flow to the people who pay most of the taxes. In the Bush plan, two-thirds of that $500 billion goes to people making between $50,000 and $100,000-and less than 5% of the overall tax cut goes to people making less than $30,000. People with no income tax liability-but who still pay payroll taxes-get almost nothing under the Bush plan.

Source: Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, p. A10 Oct 17, 2000

Yes, wealthy get tax relief, but 6M poor will pay no tax

Q: Taxes?

BUSH: If you pay taxes, you ought to get tax relief. The vice president believes that only the right people ought to get tax relief. I don’t think that’s the role of the president to pick: “You’re right, and you’re not right.” I think if you’re going to have tax relief, everybody ought to get it. And, therefore, wealthy people are going to get it. But we’ve structured the plan so that 6 million additional American families pay no taxes. If you’re a family of four making $50,000, you get a 50% cut in your federal income taxes. And I believe the people who pay the bills ought to get some money back. It’s a difference of opinion. He wants to grow the government, and I trust you with your own money.

Q: What do you say specifically to what the vice president said tonight? He’s said it many times, that your tax cut benefits the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans.

BUSH: Of course, it does. If you pay taxes, you’re going to get a benefit. People who pay taxes will get tax relief.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Wealthy now pay 62% of all taxes; with his plan, 64%

BUSH [to Gore]: Under my plan, the wealthy people pay 62% of the taxes today; afterwards, they pay 64%. This is a fair plan. You know why? Because the tax code is unfair for people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

GORE: Look, this isn’t about Gov. Bush, it’s not about me. It is about you. If everyone here in this audience [of several hundred] was in the middle of the middle class, then the tax cuts for every single one of you, all added up, would be less than the tax cut his plan would give to just one member of that top, wealthiest 1%. Now, you judge for yourselves whether or not that’s fair.

BUSH: Fifty million Americans get no tax relief under his plan.

GORE: That’s not right.

BUSH: And you may not be one of them; you’re just not one of the right people.

GORE: That 50 million figure, the journalists are the keepers of the scorecard and whether or not you’re using facts that aren’t right. And that fact is just not right.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Clinton/Gore couldn’t deliver on 1992 tax cuts

BUSH [to Gore]: A lot of folks are still waiting for that 1992 middle class tax cut. I remember the vice president saying, ‘Just give us a chance to get up there, we’re going to make sure you get tax cuts.’ It didn’t happen. And now he’s having to say it again. They’ve had their chance to deliver a tax cut to you. [Gore’s] plan is going to increase the bureaucracy by 20,000 people. His targeted tax cut is so detailed, so much fine print, that it’s going to require numerous IRS agents.

GORE: As for 20,000 new bureaucrats, as you call them, you know the size of the federal government will go down in a Gore administration. In the Reinventing Government Program, you just look at the numbers. It is 300,000 people smaller today than it was eight years ago. Now, the fact is you’re going to have a hard time convincing folks that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today. But that’s not the question. The question is, will we be better off four years from now than we are today?

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

All Americans deserve tax relief; no more “fuzzy numbers”

Q: What is the difference in your tax plans?

BUSH: He says he’s going to give you tax cuts; 50 million of you won’t receive it. He wants to make sure the right people get tax relief. Everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief. The wealthiest Americans will pay a higher % of taxes than they do today, and the poorest of Americans won’t pay any tax at all. It is a huge difference. It’s the difference between big, exploding federal government that wants to think on your behalf and a plan that meets priorities and liberates working people.

GORE: You haven’t heard the governor deny these numbers. He’s called them fuzzy. But the fact remains, almost 30% of his tax cut goes only to Americans that make more than $1 million.

BUSH: Let me give you one example, the Strunk family. They make $51,000. They pay about $3,800 in taxes. Under my plan, they get $1,800 of tax relief. Under Vice President Gore’s plan, they get $145 of tax relief. Now tell me, who stands on the side of the rich?

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

More child & charity deductions in $1.3T tax cut

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000 Special Briefing” Sep 30, 2000

Add targeted cuts to comprehensive tax cut

Since a March speech, Bush has said little about his 10-year, $1.6 trillion plan to cut income tax rates, a proposal he touted daily during the primary season. Instead, he has rolled out a series of targeted tax cuts aimed at helping people purchase private health insurance and housing and save for retirement. Bush’s principles include the belief that additional taxes paid as workers strive for the middle class-his favorite example is a singe mother earning $22,000-should be phased in more gradually
Source: Terry M. Neal, Washington Post, page A04 Jun 17, 2000

Cut taxes on income, children, & inheritance

Bush would reduce the top two federal income tax rates -- 39.6 percent and 36 percent -- to 33 percent. The middle rates -- 28 and 31 percent -- would be reduced to 25 percent. The current 15 percent rate would remain, but some of the income now subject to it would move into a new bracket. The child credit would be doubled, to $1,000 a child. The income cutoff on eligibility for the credit would rise to $200,000 for a married couple filing jointly from $110,000. The plan would reinstate a deduction available to couples filing jointly to deduct 10 percent of the earnings of the lower-earning spouse, up to an earnings limit of $30,000. Mr. Bush would phase out the inheritance tax on large estates and gifts over eight years. Taxpayers who do not otherwise itemize deductions would be allowed to itemize charitable contributions. A current provision giving credit to companies that engage in research would be made permanent.
Source: NY Times Jun 6, 2000

More deductions for kids, education, charity, and marriage

Source:, Tax Plan Fact Sheet May 27, 2000

Reduce share of tax burden on low- and middle-income

Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

Tax cuts, so help me God

Q: Is your anti-tax position one of convenience rather than conviction? What if the economy really turns sour? A: If there is a recession, it’s important to cut the taxes to make sure our economy grows. It’s also important to cut the taxes when there is apparent times of plenty as an insurance policy against an economic slowdown. And it’s important to cut the taxes to make sure Washington, D.C., does not spend the surplus. I have laid out a plan that not only encourages economic growth. I’ve laid out a plan that is more fair than the current code because it knocks down the toll booth to the middle class.

Q. So, Governor, is this no new taxes so help me God? A: This is not only no new taxes. This is tax cuts so help me God. There is a mindset in Washington that says if we have extra money let’s create more federal government. That’s not the way I think.. Rather than create more government, I think we ought to pass money back to the working people in America.

Source: Republican Debate in Durham, NH Jan 6, 2000

George W. Bush on Returning the Surplus

Tax relief will spur growth and help pay national debt

“My plan not only makes the system more fair, but it says if you’re a family of four making $50,000, you get a 50 percent cut in income taxes.” Tax relief, Bush continued, would promote further economic growth nationwide, resulting in a renewed federal government ability to pay down the national debt.
Source: Ian Christopher McCaleb, Aug 30, 2000

Tax cut for all is affordable and right thing to do

Gore said that Bush’s tax cut would plunge the country into deficits, and added that it would “wreck our good economy and make it impossible to modernize our armed forces and keep them ready for battle.”

Bush defended his tax-cut proposal. I’m not changing my opinion on it. It’s the absolute right thing to do for America. Bush’s plan would reduce federal tax rates across the income spectrum, lowering the highest rate to 33% from 39.6% and the lowest rate to 10% from 15%.

Source: (X-ref to Gore) Frank Bruni, NY Times Aug 23, 2000

The surplus is the people’s money-return it

The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason: We were fighting World War II. Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend.

But they’ve got it backwards. The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money. Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills.

Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

No one should pay more than 1/3 in taxes

Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

Biggest tax cuts to those who pay the biggest tax bills

Bush’s opponents contend that Bush’s plan allocates all or most of the excess revenues to tax cuts, and that it would give far too much of its benefits to the wealthiest taxpayers. One analysis shows 1/3 of Bush’s tax cut going to the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers-those with incomes of $319,000 or more-while the bottom 60% of taxpayers, those with incomes of less than $39,300, would get 11% of the benefits. Bush says his plan fairly gives the biggest tax cuts to the people who pay the biggest tax bills.
Source: New York Times, p. 22 Feb 27, 2000

Use prosperous times to get money out of Washington

I believe that cutting the taxes will encourage economic growth. I believe cutting all marginal rates will keep the economy growing. I believe we ought to get rid of the death tax. I believe we ought to get rid of the earnings test on Social Security. I believe we ought to mitigate the marriage penalty. I believe we ought to use this time of prosperity to get money out of Washington and into the pockets of the taxpayers.
Source: GOP Debate in Manchester NH Jan 26, 2000

Cut top tax rate to 33% while cutting lower income taxes too

Q: [to McCain]: You’ve said that 60% of Bush’s tax cut will go to the very wealthy. Are you are playing a class warfare game, pitting rich against poor?

McCAIN: I have never engaged in class warfare. [But] there’s a growing gap between the have’s and have-not’s in America and that gap is growing and it’s, unfortunately, divided up along ethnic lines. We ought to cut middle-income and lower-income taxes. But I’m not sure we need to give two-thirds of that tax cut [money] to the wealthiest 10% of America.

BUSH: I believe everybody ought to get a tax cut. I believe it’s important to cut the top rates. I think it’s important to drop the 39.6% [top tax rate] to 33%. I also know it’s important to make sure people who are on the outskirts of poverty get a tax cut as well. And my plan does both.

Source: (cross-ref to McCain) GOP Debate in Michigan Jan 10, 2000

Proposes tax cuts of $483B over 5 years

Bush will lay out the centerpiece of his economic agenda, calling for sweeping cuts in income tax rates, a tax break for many married couples and an increase in the child credit, his aides said. The proposal [is] valued by the Bush campaign at $483 billion over five years starting in 2002. The tax-cutting package, which would be financed out of anticipated budget surpluses, would be larger than the tax cut passed by Congress last summer and vetoed by President Clinton.
Source: R.Stevenson, NY Times, part of “Renewing America’s Purpose” Dec 1, 1999

Lower tax rates to 10%-25%-33%; end inheritance tax.

Bush’s tax proposal would reduce taxes across the income spectrum gradually over 5 years. The wealthy would see the top income tax rate reduced to 33% from 39.6%. The 28% & 31% rates paid by many middle-class taxpayers would be consolidated and reduced to 25%. Lower-income families would benefit from the creation of a new 10% tax bracket that would apply to much of the income currently taxed at 15%.

The plan would double the child credit to $1,000 & allow more affluent families to claim the credit. It would benefit many married couples by reviving a deduction based on the lower-earning spouse’s income. And it would phase out over eight years the inheritance tax on large estates. The plan does not contain any reduction in taxes on capital gains.

“It’s a plan that will reduce the upper rate,” Bush said. “It’s a plan also that recognizes that our current system is not fair. If you’re a [poor] single mother with children, as you move toward the middle class, you pay an enormous rate.”

Source: R.Stevenson, NY Times, part of “Renewing America’s Purpose” Dec 1, 1999

Other candidates on Tax Reform: George W. Bush on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
School Choice
Social Security
Tax Reform
War & Peace