- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that John Kerry’s 73 new spending proposals would require the federal government to raise taxes by $1.7 trillion in the next 10 years.

Although Mr. Kerry already has proposed increasing taxes by $700 billion during that time period, a shortfall of $1 trillion would require the Democratic presidential candidate to enact “a major new tax increase on the workers, entrepreneurs and inventors of this country,” the vice president said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“At last count, candidate Kerry had offered 73 new spending proposals. So far, he’s provided details for just 28 of those 73 — and they alone would add $1.7 trillion in new spending by the federal government over 10 years,” he said.

“But here we run up against a basic math problem. Using a generous estimate, the senator’s plan for higher taxes would raise $700 billion. So with $1.7 trillion in extra spending, that leaves a gap of $1 trillion,” Mr. Cheney said. “It takes little imagination to figure out just how he would fill that tax gap — a major new tax increase on the workers, entrepreneurs and inventors of this country.”

Mr. Kerry, campaigning in Sacramento, Calif., fired back, accusing Mr. Cheney of distorting his 20-year Senate record and ridiculing the vice president for keeping a low profile after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“They found Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location and brought him out to attack me,” the Massachusetts senator told students at a jobs-training center. “That seems to be his designated role, not to create jobs, but to attack John Kerry.”

The Kerry campaign, which did not take issue with the charge that the liberal senator voted 350 times to raise taxes, said Mr. Cheney’s charges were misleading because he had selectively told “less than half of the truth.”

“Today, the vice president has cherry-picked a handful of votes that were part of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which John Kerry opposed because they primarily benefited the wealthy and contributed to record deficits,” Mr. Kerry’s campaign said.

“What Cheney didn’t say was that Kerry supported the middle-class alternatives to the Bush tax cuts,” including lowering the child-credit eligibility threshold from $10,500 to $5,000; expanding the 10 percent tax bracket; speeding up marriage-penalty relief; and eliminating the estate tax for small businesses and family farms.

Mr. Kerry has proposed a 10-year, $900 billion health care plan to cover about 27 million of the 44 million uninsured Americans. But he also has pledged to cut the $500 billion federal deficit in half in two years, asserting that raising taxes on Americans making more than $200,000 annually — a bracket that Mr. Bush trimmed in his across-the-board tax cuts — and reinstating some form of inheritance tax will cover additional expenditures.

Mr. Cheney said the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee will not be averse to dramatically increasing taxes, given his track record.

“It turns out John Kerry has voted in the Senate at least 350 times for higher taxes. That averages to one vote for higher taxes every three weeks, for almost two decades. At least the folks in Massachusetts knew he was on the job,” Mr. Cheney said, drawing laughter and applause.

He also added that Mr. Kerry has been “one of the most reliable pro-tax votes in the Senate.”

“To get a clearer picture of what the first hundred days of a Kerry administration would look like, we can start by reviewing his last 7,000 days in Washington. A career highlight was his vote in favor of the largest tax increase in American history. He even voted to increase taxes on Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

“You wouldn’t know any of this from Senator Kerry’s statements during this campaign. After voting three times to increase the gas tax — and once proposing to increase it by 50 cents a gallon, he now says he doesn’t support it.”

Mr. Cheney said Mr. Kerry has voted at least 18 times against expanding the child tax credit and at least 20 times against cutting the marriage penalty.

“All in all, this is the record of a senator who will speak out against higher taxes when it suits the political moment,” he said.

“He has given the usual assurances that in those first 100 days he’s planning, only the wealthiest Americans can expect higher taxes,” Mr. Cheney said. “But voters are entitled to measure that campaign promise against Senator Kerry’s long record in support of higher taxes for every income group.”

The vice president touted President Bush’s tax cuts as an indispensable part of pulling the country out of a recession that began in the third quarter of 2000.

“While Europe’s economy stagnated at a 1.4 percent growth rate in the second half of last year, the American economy grew at a rate of nearly 6.2 percent,” Mr. Cheney said. “The tax relief that we passed is working.”

Mr. Cheney also called on Congress to extend some of the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire: an increase in the child tax credit; tax reductions for some married couples who would pay more than they would as individuals; and an expansion of the lowest — 10 percent — tax bracket.

Of Mr. Kerry’s 73 spending proposals, Mr. Cheney said voters in November will have “a choice between a senator who has raised taxes and a president who has cut them.”

“It is the difference between a senator who makes endless promises on federal spending and a president who insists on spending discipline in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Mr. Kerry countered, saying the Bush-Cheney team is “running a campaign in March of mid-October desperation.”

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