The Spectacle Blog

Did Ron Paul Vote for a Tax Increase?

By on 12.3.10 | 1:51PM

In addition to never voting for an unbalanced budget, Ron Paul often touts his record of never having voted for a tax increase. Some people are arguing that this streak ended yesterday when Paul, joined by Paul-influenced Republicans Jimmy Duncan and Walter Jones, voted for the House Democrats' extension of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class.

But if you also favor retaining the tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers, are you supporting tax hikes if you vote first for the stand-alone middle-class tax cut bill? Especially when the Democratic majority leader publicly admits the partial tax cut has no chance of becoming law and all three Republicans voted for the original full tax cuts and say they favor their retention? Paul in particular has defended the tax cuts for the wealthy for some time:

I'm in favor of cutting everybody's taxes - rich, poor, and otherwise. Whether a tax cut reduces a single mother's payroll taxes by forty dollars a month, or allows a wealthy business owner to save millions in capital gains, the net effect is beneficial. Both either spend, save, or invest the extra dollars, which helps all of us infinitely more than if those dollars were sent to the black hole known as the federal Treasury. The single mother desperately needs those extra dollars, and that's why we should reduce or eliminate her payroll taxes. As for the wealthy business owner and whether he "needs" the extra dollars, I'll simply relate the old adage of the man who said "I've never had my paycheck signed by a poor man."

The most problematic provision of the bill Paul and company voted for is Section 102, which explicitly excludes "high income individuals" from the tax cuts and defines who doesn't qualify. Left alone, that would be a tax increase on those individuals come January. But the legislation also explicitly continues the tax cuts for everyone else. Could you argue with a straight face that the Republicans who voted against this bill don't really favor the tax cuts for the middle class?

Unrelatedly, while Paul -- wrongly, in my view -- preferred a reprimand, he did ultimately vote to censure Charlie Rangel.

UPDATE: Ryan Ellis of the anti-tax increase Americans for Tax Reform comments below:

"In our opinion, Cong. Paul did not vote for a tax hike. The bill Congress voted on yesterday is a tax cut relative to 2011 law, which assumes everyone's taxes go up. By preventing some people's taxes from going up, this would score out as a tax cut."

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