House Easily Passes Bush Tax Cut Plan
In the wee hours of May 23, by a vote of 231 to 200, the House passed a tax cut package strongly backed by President Bush. The package was very similar to the one the Senate had approved earlier in the week, but with many key provisions on dividend taxation developed by Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R.-Calif.).
The House had earlier (May 9)passed a much larger tax cut (see HUMAN EVENTS rollcall May 19 issue), but it had to pass this one so that the House and Senate chambers could find agreement on a bill to send to President Bush.
Thomas-well known as an establishment moderate who often exhibits an extremely disagreeable personality-nevertheless did President Bush and conservatives a huge favor by twisting the arms of Senate negotiators and-helped by Vice President Cheney-coming up with a tax cut bill Congress would pass and send to Bushs desk before Memorial Day.
The tax cut package, which narrowly passed the Senate the following morning (see rollcall at right), was scored by the Congressional Budget Office as costing the government approximately $350 billion over 10 years-the magic maximum number demanded by a group of holdout liberal Republicans in the Senate.
However, this number was achieved not by shrinking the amount of tax relief, but by making several of its provisions sunset in just three years.
Although the bill is a temporary solution, Republicans think it is very likely that a more conservative Senate will revisit the issue after the 2004 elections and perhaps make the tax cuts permanent or at least extend them for ten years or more. ( Analysts now believe the GOP is almost certain to make a net gain of three or more U.S. Senate seats in 2004.)
Unlike President Bushs 2001 tax cuts, this package is also front-loaded, to have a maximum immediate effect in improving the economy and helping President Bushs electoral chances in 04 by giving him a strong economy to work with. Democrats, who believe economic disaster is their only hope of electoral success next November strongly opposed the bill.
For that reason, they continued to gripe. After its passage. "Every dollar of the tax cuts passed by the Senate will be added to our $6.4-trillion debt," said Rep. Charles Stenholm (D.-Tex.), not mentioning how his party has contributed to the high deficits by pushing massive spending programs.
"This is a fiscally irresponsible bill for the nation," said Rep. Sander Levin (D.-Mich.), a tax-and-spend- liberal who has voted for spending measures that added to the deficit every single year he has been in Congress. "It is unfair to individual taxpayers. It will not stimulate economic growth. . .They are mortgaging the future of my children, of my grandchildren."
Bush will also be able to point out that his opponents want to repeal tax cuts that are already enacted. So far, many Democratic presidential candidates have announced plans to create massive new entitlement programs for health care that will require tax hikes. Now that the tax cuts have gone through, most of them applying retroactively to the beginning of this year, the Democratic plans will require even bigger tax hikes, making them even less attractive to voters.
A "yes" vote was a vote for tax relief for working Americans. A "no" vote was a vote against the tax cut.
REPUBLICANS FOR (224): Aderholt, Akin, Bachus, Baker, Ballenger, Barrett (SC), Bartlett (MD), Barton (TX), Bass, Beauprez, Bereuter, Biggert, Bilirakis, Bishop (UT), Blackburn, Blunt, Boehlert, Bonner, Bono, Boozman, Bradley (NH), Brady (TX), Brown (SC), Brown-Waite, V., Burgess, Burns, Burr, Burton (IN) ,Buyer, Calvert, Camp, Cannon, Cantor, Capito, Carter, Castle, Chabot, Chocola, Coble, Cole, Collins, Cox, Crane, Crenshaw, Cubin, Culberson, Cunningham, Davis, Jo Ann, Davis, Tom, Deal (GA), DeLay, DeMint, Diaz-Balart, L., Diaz-Balart, M., Doolittle, Dreier, Duncan, Dunn, Ehlers, English, Everett, Feeney, Ferguson ,Flake, Fletcher, Foley, Forbes, Fossella, Franks (AZ), Frelinghuysen, Gallegly ,Garrett (NJ), Gerlach, Gibbons, Gilchrest, Gillmor, Gingrey, Goode, Goodlatte, Goss, Granger, Graves, Green (WI), Greenwood, Gutknecht, Harris, Hart, Hastert, Hastings (WA), Hayes, Hayworth, Hefley, Hensarling, Herger, Hobson, Hoekstra, Hostettler, Houghton, Hulshof, Hunter, Hyde, Isakson, Issa, Istook, Janklow, Jenkins, Johnson, Sam, Johnson (CT), Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Keller, Kelly, Kennedy (MN), King (IA), King (NY), Kingston, Kirk, Kline, Knollenberg, Kolbe, LaHood, Latham, LaTourette, Lewis (CA), Lewis (KY), Linder, LoBiondo, Lucas (OK), Manzullo, McCotter, McCrery, McHugh, McInnis, McKeon, Mica, Miller, Gary, Miller (FL) ,Miller (MI), Moran (KS), Murphy, Musgrave, Myrick, Nethercutt, Ney, Northup, Norwood, Nunes ,Nussle, Osborne, Ose, Otter, Oxley, Paul, Pearce, Pence, Peterson (PA), Petri, Pickering, Pitts, Platts, Pombo, Porter, Portman, Pryce (OH), Putnam, Quinn, Radanovich, Ramstad, Regula, Rehberg, Renzi, Reynolds, Rogers (AL), Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rohrabacher, Ros-Lehtinen, Royce, Ryan (WI), Ryun (KS), Saxton, Schrock, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shadegg, Shaw, Shays, Sherwood, Shimkus, Shuster, Simmons, Simpson, Smith (MI), Smith (NJ), Smith (TX), Souder, Stearns, Sullivan, Sweeney, Tancredo, Tauzin, Taylor (NC), Terry, Thomas, Thornberry, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Toomey, Turner (OH), Upton, Vitter, Walden (OR), Walsh, Wamp, Weldon (FL), Weldon (PA), Weller, Whitfield, Wicker, Wilson (NM), Wilson (SC), Wolf, Young (AK), Young (FL)
DEMOCRATS FOR (7): Alexander, Cramer, Hall, Lucas (KY), Marshall, Matheson, Scott (GA)
REPUBLICANS AGAINST (1): Leach
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (198): Abercrombie, Ackerman, Allen, Andrews, Baca, Baird, Baldwin, Balance, Becerra, Bell, Berkley, Berman, Berry, Bishop (GA), Bishop (NY), Blumenauer, Boswell, Boucher, Boyd, Brady (PA), Brown, Corrine, Brown (OH), Capps, Capuano, Cardin, Cardoza, Carson (IN), Carson (OK), Case, Clay, Clyburn, Conyers, Cooper, Costello, Crowley, Cummings, Davis (AL), Davis (CA), Davis (FL), Davis (IL), Davis (TN), DeFazio, DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Deutsch, Dicks, Dingell, Doggett, Dooley (CA), Doyle, Edwards, Emanuel, Engel, Eshoo, Etheridge, Evans, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Ford, Frank (MA), Frost, Gephardt, Gonzalez, Gordon, Green (TX), Grijalva, Gutierrez, Harman, Hastings (FL), Hill, Hinchey, Hinojosa, Hoeffel, Holden, Holt, Honda, Hooley (OR), Hoyer, Inslee, Israel, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Jefferson, John, Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kennedy (RI), Kildee, Kilpatrick, Kind, Kleczka, Kucinich, Lampson, Langevin, Lantos, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Lipinski, Lofgren, Lowey, Lynch, Majette, Maloney, Markey, Matsui, McCarthy (MO), McCarthy (NY), McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, McIntyre, McNulty, Meehan, Meek (FL), Meeks (NY), Menendez, Michaud, Millender-McDonald, Miller, George, Miller (NC), Mollohan, Moore, Moran (VA), Murtha, Nadler, Napolitano, Neal (MA), Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Ortiz, Owens, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Pelosi, Peterson (MN), Pomeroy, Price (NC), Rahall, Rangel, Reyes, Rodriguez, Ross, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Ruppersberger, Rush, Ryan (OH), Sabo, Sanchez, Linda, Sanchez, Loretta, Sandlin, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott (VA), Serrano, Sherman, Skelton, Slaughter, Smith (WA), Snyder, Solis, Spratt, Stark, Stenholm, Strickland, Stupak, Tanner, Tauscher, Taylor (MS), Thompson (CA), Thompson (MS), Tierney, Towns, Turner (TX), Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Van Hollen, Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson, Watt, Waxman, Weiner, Wexler, Woolsey, Wu, Wynn
INDEPENDENT AGAINST (1): Sanders
REPUBLICANS (4): Boehner, Bonilla, Combest, Emerson
Senate Passes Final Version Of Tax Cut
On May 23, by a 50-to-50 vote, with a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Senate passed the exact same tax package (H.R. 2) that had cleared the House just hours earlier.
The Senate had passed a similarly-sized tax package earlier in the week after approving an amendment by Sen. Don Nickles (R.-Okla.) that largely shaped the Senate tax cut (see HUMAN EVENTS rollcall last week). But the final bill looked more like the bill passed May 9 in the House.
The "price tag" on the tax cut was about $350 billion, but if all of the tax cuts provisions are revisited and extended before they expire-which is very likely given the election prospects for 2004-the actual amount of tax relief will be $720 billion, almost exactly what President Bush pushed for originally.
The tax cut plan contains income tax reductions for a large section of the population, but it especially benefits parents with dependent children and investors with dividends and those who expect capital gains this year.
Democrats, as usual, complained that the tax bill, which by the most generous static estimates will "cost" the government an average of $80 billion a year for the next ten years but made no complaints about the huge $2.3 trillion in government spending this year.
"The Republican bill loses jobs over the long-term," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.). "It is steeply tilted against the middle class and the poor and gives huge tax breaks to the privileged few by spending the Social Security Trust Fund. And in order to pay for the pricey dividend tax break and the cut in the top income rates, it effectively raises taxes on the middle class."
The bill does not raise anyones taxes.
A "yes" vote was a vote for the Bush tax cut as agreed on by the House and Senate. A "no" vote was a vote against the Bush-backed tax cuts.
REPUBLICANS FOR (48): Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Graham (S.C.), Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Voinovich and Warner.
DEMOCRATS FOR (2): Miller and Nelson (Neb.).
REPUBLICANS AGAINST (3): Chafee, McCain and Snowe.
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (46): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Harkin, Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Pryor, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow, and Wyden.
INDEPENDENT AGAINST (1): Jeffords.
Tie-Breaking Vote VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Voted for the bill.
Liberals Vote To Keep Environmental Curbs On Military Training
On May 21, by a vote of 51 to 48, the Senate adopted an amendment by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) that strips from the Defense Department authorization bill (S. 1050) provisions helping the military to train without reference to onerous environmental restrictions.
Current environmental law hurts American military readiness because it forces the military to tiptoe around endangered species on its many firing ranges and training grounds (see HUMAN EVENTS stories on this subject: May 5, 2003, Feb. 24, 2003, and Jan. 20, 2003, and Dec. 2, 2002 issues).
The underlying defense bill would have solved this problem by exempting the Defense Department from onerous environmental regulations. But Senate liberals would have none of it.
"There is a lot of effort that has gone into developing legislation in protecting endangered species," said Lautenberg. "Seeing them disappear is a painful recognition."
Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.), a veteran and a champion of the military, shot back that military readiness is more important than the preservation of Lautenbergs prized legislation.
"In Kuwait, we lost five lives, four of whom were Americans," Inhofe said, referring to rear-line casualties during the war of Iraq. "If you read the accident report, it very clearly states that we lost those lives because we didnt have adequate live-fire training." That lack of training, he went on, was due to the prohibition of live-fire exercises in Vieques, off Puerto Rico, thanks partly to environmental concerns.
Likewise, Inhofe also pointed out that at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, the Marines can only train along only "some 200 yards" of its several-mile-long coastline, thanks to environmentalists.
The vote was almost along party lines, with just three liberal Republicans defecting. Still, some Democrats do not understand why the public overwhelmingly prefers Republicans when it comes to defense-related issues.
A "yes" vote was a vote for the Lautenberg amendment that would protect environmental law despite military concerns. A "no" vote was a vote against the amendment.
REPUBLICANS FOR (3): Chafee, Snowe, and Specter.
DEMOCRATS FOR (47): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Collins, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Harkin, Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow, and Wyden.
INDEPENDENT FOR: (1): Jeffords.
REPUBLICANS AGAINST (47): Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Graham (S.C.), Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Voinovich, and Warner.
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (1): Miller.
NOT VOTING (1): Edwards.