Responding to criticism from taxpayer advocates in an interview today with Neil Cavuto, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), co-chairman of President Obama’s debt commission, claimed he had “the best record as a non-taxer in the US Senate”. Simpson’s actual voting history indicates otherwise. Below are several of the most important tax votes Simpson took as a Senator:
Bush “Read My Lips” Tax Hike (10/27/1990, RC # 326): Simpson voted to raise the individual top marginal income tax rate from 28 to 31 percent, to phase out itemized deductions like charitable contributions, to raise Medicare payroll taxes, and to increase excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. This violated President Bush’s “read my lips” pledge. $2 in spending cuts were promised for every $1 in tax hikes. None—zero—of the spending cuts were enacted. All of the tax hikes were.
Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Bill(06/08/1988, RC # 590): Simpson voted for a new Medicare catastrophic cost and prescription drug bill which was paid for in part by charging seniors a surtax of 15% of their annual income tax liability. This is a marginal income tax hike. This law (which Simpson also voted to repeal) led to the famous incident where House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) had has car pounded on by seniors with their umbrellas.
Tax Reform Act of 1986(09/27/1986, RC #677): Simpson shockingly voted against the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was the most significant tax reform of the last century. It lowered the top personal income tax rate from 50 percent to 28 percent. It lowered the corporate income tax rate from 46 percent to 34 percent. While there were elements that were unpalatable (e.g., the hike in the capital gains tax rate from 20 to 28 percent, the limits on IRA contributions, etc.), the package was the final nail in the coffin of the high tax-rate era.
Social Security Tax Hikes of 1983(03/24/1983, RC #54): Simpson voted for the biggest tax hike in Social Security’s history in 1983. Faced with bankruptcy, the Alan Greenspan commission chose not to reform Social Security into a defined contribution system with personal accounts. Rather, they re-used the old formula of benefit cuts and tax increases. In this case, the payroll tax rate was increased from 10.8 percent to 12.4 percent. It also exposed up to half of Social Security benefits to income taxation.
TEFRA Act of 1982(08/19/1982, RC #834): Simpson voted in favor of this bill which was a lie liberal Democrats in Congress foisted upon President Reagan and the American people. The Congressional Democrat leadership promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes happened—arguably, little to none of the spending cuts did.