Lincoln Chafee on Tax Reform
Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)
Repeal Bush tax cuts that favor wealthy
Let me talk about income inequality. We've had a lot of talk, but no one is saying how we're going to fix it. It started with the Bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy. So let's go back to the tax code. 0.6 percent of Americans are at the top echelon.
That's less than 1 percent. But they generate 30 percent of the revenue. And they're doing fine. I'm saying let's have another tier and put that back into the tax bracket. And that will generate $42 billion. And then we can help the middle class.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas
, Oct 13, 2015
I voted against every Bush tax cut favoring the wealthy
A strong middle class is the bedrock of any prosperous community. However, today's system is stacked against too many American families.
They play by all the rules; they are educated, often at great cost; they work hard all week, and are barely making ends meet. This is not right.
As a U. S. Senator I voted against every Bush tax cut that favored the wealthiest and deepened the disparity between the few and the many.
At the local, state and federal level I have supported incentives and protections that help grow the middle class. Beneficial social programs have a long history of being a force for good in the lives of Americans.
Source: 2016 presidential campaign website Chafee2016.com
, Jun 4, 2015
2000: Repeal the marriage tax penalty
After seeing the postelection Bush-Cheney agenda after the 2000 election, I wrote a letter to Dick Cheney as a fair warning:
In the Fiscal Year 2000 federal budget, majorities from both parties in Congress expressed support in the past year for reform of the estate tax and repeal of the so-called marriage tax penalty.
This appears to be an area of great promise for early bipartisan cooperation.
Democrats can be expected to support reform in both these areas at least to the extent contained in the substitute amendments proposed this past summer by the fiscally irresponsible Senator Moynihan.
Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 15
, Apr 1, 2008
Draw down budget surplus to pay to abolish Marriage Tax
It was a longstanding inequity in our income tax code that an unmarried couple filing separately pays less than a married couple filling jointly. We would have to draw down some of the federal budget surplus to pay for abolishing the "Marriage Penalty
Tax," but what a good use for the surplus. I thought eliminating this inequity would honor the political sacrifices that Republican and Democratic presidents alike had made to end deficit spending in America.
Now that we no longer had to spend enormous sums to counterbalance the former Soviet Union, it was time to do constructive things with our hard-won surplus. Both parties overwhelmingly supported fixing the marriage penalty.
I parted ways with my
leadership on these votes and supported Democratic amendments that targeted the relief where it was needed. I argued, "We're in the majority. Let's pass a bill that President Clinton will sign and then remind the voters that it was our bill."
Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 38-40
, Apr 1, 2008
Opposes making income tax flatter & lower
Chafee voted NO on HR.8, a bill that would eliminate the tax imposed on estates and gifts by 2010.
Chafee voted YES on HR.4810, the ‘Marriage Penalty Tax Elimination’ bill, that would reduce taxes on married couples by increasing their standard deduction to twice that of single taxpayers.
Source: Voted AGAINST repealing the death tax
, Sep 20, 2000
Voted NO on supporting permanence of estate tax cuts.
Increases the estate tax exclusion to $5,000,000, effective 2015, and repeals the sunset provision for the estate and generation-skipping taxes. Lowers the estate tax rate to equal the current long-term capital gains tax rate (i.e., 15% through 2010) for taxable estates up to $25 million. Repeals after 2009 the estate tax deduction paid to states.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
The permanent solution to the death tax challenge that we have today is a compromise. It is a compromise that prevents the death rate from escalating to 55% and the exclusion dropping to $1 million in 2011. It also includes a minimum wage increase, 40% over the next 3 years. Voting YES is a vote for that permanent death tax relief. Voting YES is for that extension of tax relief. Voting YES is for that 40% minimum wage increase. This gives us the opportunity to address an issue that will affect the typical American family, farmers, & small business owners.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Family businesses and family farms should not be broken up to pay taxes. With the booming economy of the 1990s, many more Americans joined the ranks of those who could face estate taxes. Raising the exemption level and lowering the rate in past legislation made sense. Under current law, in my State of Delaware, fewer than 50 families will face any estate tax in 2009. I oppose this legislation's complete repeal of the estate tax because it will cost us $750 billion. Given the world we live in today, with clear domestic needs unmet, full repeal is a luxury that we cannot afford.
To add insult to this injury, the first pay raise for minimum wage workers in 10 years is now hostage to this estate tax cut. We are told that to get those folks on minimum wage a raise, we have to go into debt, so that the sons and daughters of the 7,000 most fortunate families among us will be spared the estate tax. We must say no to this transparent gimmick.
Reference: Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act;
Bill H.R. 5970
; vote number 2006-229
on Aug 3, 2006
Voted NO on permanently repealing the `death tax`.
A cloture motion ends debate and forces a vote on the issue. In this case, voting YES implies support for permanently repealing the death tax. Voting against cloture would allow further amendments. A cloture motion requires a 3/5th majority to pass. This cloture motion failed, and there was therefore no vote on repealing the death tax.
Proponents of the motion say:
- We already pay enough taxes over our lifetimes We are taxed from that first cup of coffee in the morning to the time we flip off the lights at bedtime. If you are an enterprising entrepreneur who has worked hard to grow a family business or to keep and maintain that family farm, your spouse and children can expect to hear the knock of the tax man right after the Grim Reaper.
- In the past, when Congress enacted a death tax, it was at an extraordinary time of war, and the purpose was to raise temporary funds. But after the war was over the death tax was repealed. But that changed in the last century.
The death tax was imposed and has never been lifted.
- The death tax tells people it is better to consume today than to invest for the future. That doesn't make sense.
Opponents of the motion say:
Reference: Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act;
Bill HR 8
; vote number 2006-164
on Jun 8, 2006
- Small businesses and farms rarely--if ever--are forced to sell off assets or close up shop to pay the tax. Under the current exemption, roughly 99% of estates owe nothing in estate taxes. By 2011, with a $3.5 million exemption, only two of every 100,000 people who die that year would be subject to the estate tax.
- Today's vote is on a motion to proceed to a bill to repeal the estate tax. Not to proceed to a compromise or any other deal--but to full repeal. I oppose full repeal of the estate tax. Our Nation can no longer afford this tax break for the very well off. Permanently repealing the estate tax would add about $1 trillion to our national debt from 2011 to 2021.
Voted YES on $47B for military by repealing capital gains tax cut.
To strengthen America's military, to repeal the extension of tax rates for capital gains and dividends, to reduce the deficit, and for other purposes. Specifically, a YES vote would appropriate $47 billion to the military and would pay for it by repealing the extension of tax cuts for capital gains and dividends to 2010 back to 2008. The funds wuold be used as follows:
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act;
Bill S Amdt 2737 to HR 4297
; vote number 2006-008
on Feb 2, 2006
- $25.4 billion for procurement
- $17 billion for Army operation and maintenance
- $4.5 billion for Marine Corps operation and maintenance
Voted NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends.
Vote to reduce federal spending by $56.1 billion over five years by retaining a reduced tax rate on capital gains and dividends, as well as.
- Decreasing the number of people that will be required to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
- Allowing for deductions of state and local general sales taxes through 2007 instead of 2006
- Lengthening tax credits for research expenses
- Increasing the age limit for eligibility for food stamp recipients from 25 to 35 years
- Continuing reduced tax rates of 15% and 5% on capital gains and dividends through 2010
- Extending through 2007 the expense allowances for environmental remediation costs (the cost of cleanup of sites where petroleum products have been released or disposed)
Status: Bill passed Bill passed, 66-31
Reference: Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act;
Bill HR 4297
; vote number 2006-010
on Feb 2, 2006
Voted NO on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends.
This large piece of legislation (418 pages) includes numerous provisions, generally related to extending the tax cuts initiated by President Bush. This vote was on final passage of the bill. The specific provisions include:
- Extension Of Expiring Provisions: for business expenses, retirement savings contributions, higher education expenses, new markets tax credit, and deducting state and local sales taxes.
- Provisions Relating To Charitable Donations, and Reforming Charitable Organizations
- Improved Accountability of Donor Advised Funds
- Improvements in Efficiency and Safeguards in IRS Collection
Opponents of the bill recommend voting NAY because:
- Health care for children (among many other things) should come before tax cuts for the wealthy.
- The 2-year cost of the extensions on capital gains tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans is $20 billion. So if we defer the tax break the administration is pushing for the wealthiest people in
America, we would have enough money to provide basic health insurance for every uninsured child in America, and we would eliminate 20% of the uninsured Americans with that single act alone.
Proponents of the bill recommend voting YEA because:
Reference: Tax Relief Act of 2005;
Bill S. 2020
; vote number 2005-347
on Nov 18, 2005
- The largest provision in the bill--about $30 billion of tax relief--amounts to half of the net tax package and is designed to keep 14 million people out of the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT is terrible and should be repealed.
- College tuition benefits for families who send their kids to college -- by definition, this benefit goes to middle-income families.
- The small savers' credit -- for low-income folks that save through an IRA or pension plan.
- Many small businesses use the small business expensing benefit to buy equipment on an efficient after-tax basis. It is good for small business. It is good for economic growth.
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.
; vote number 2003-196
on May 23, 2003
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 NO 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 YES 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
; vote number 2000-215
on Jul 18, 2000
Voted NO on phasing out the estate tax ("death tax").
Vote on a bill that would eventually eliminate the tax imposed on estates and gifts by 2010 at an estimated cost of $75 billion annually when fully phased in.
Bill HR 8
; vote number 2000-197
on Jul 14, 2000
Rated 46% by NTU, indicating "Satisfactory" on tax votes.
Chafee scores 46% 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
Implement socially fair, broad-based tax cuts.
Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:
Not only has the Republican-led Congress achieved a balanced budget for the first time since 1969, but it has also created a budget surplus -- a feat not previously even imaginable. It is currently projected that the Fiscal Year 1999 budget surplus will be along the order of some $80 billion, of which $66 billion is earmarked for Social Security. This envious state of affairs would seem to indicate that equitable, far-reaching tax reductions may be in order -- not as an ideological or political strategy, but as a primary element of an economic growth policy and a legitimate tool for holding down unnecessary government growth in times of surplus.
The United States is enjoying steady economic prosperity thanks in no small measure to prudent fiscal policies implemented by the Republican-led Congress. However, we must look not only at the positive side of the economy but also at the problems the economy faces -- at the present time and into the twenty-first century. Limiting government spending (i.e., spending caps) is a good beginning to address some difficulties. In addition, current and future Congresses should maintain a balanced federal budget, pay down the national debt (which will help protect Social Security for current and future generations), redefine the federal government's role in the society and, finally, think about fair tax reductions for the American people and the businesses that drive our economy. [We need] an evaluation of implementing tax cuts based on their social fairness.
Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP6 on Sep 9, 1998
Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016