What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Tax Breaks for the Rich : S. 1054. Tax Reductions/Procedural Vote to Defeat an Amendment Designed to Prevent Budget Deficits By Delaying Implementation of the Dividends Tax Until the Federal Budget Is In Surplus. (2003 senate Roll Call 147)
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S. 1054. Tax Reductions/Procedural Vote to Defeat an Amendment Designed to Prevent Budget Deficits By Delaying Implementation of the Dividends Tax Until the Federal Budget Is In Surplus.
senate Roll Call 147     May 14, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In an effort to jumpstart the struggling economy, the Bush Administration proposed tax reductions valued at $726 billion in 2001. Those reductions-which were targeted mainly toward high-income individuals-were unable to pass Congress in that year but have since been reintroduced in the House and Senate. The most contentious component of the 2003 tax cut legislation was the elimination of the dividends tax. Dividends-which are corporate payouts to shareholders-are disproportionately enjoyed by individuals in the highest income brackets. During Senate consideration of the tax cut legislation, Senator Reid (D-NV) offered an amendment that would have prohibited the dividends tax from taking effect unless the Treasury certified that the cuts would still allow for a budget surplus. Progressives supported Reid's measure because, in their view, eliminating the dividends tax would: 1) increase the federal deficit; 2) have a minimal stimulus effect on the economy; and 3) disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals. The subject of this vote was a motion to waive a point of order raised against Reid's amendment by Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY). Senate debates on budgetrelated legislation are governed by reconciliation rules which were applied to the current tax cut proposal. Those rules limit debate to thirty hours and require that amendments be "germane" (or relevant) to the legislation at hand (a Senator may raise a point of order against a non-germane amendment which requires a sixty-vote majority to overcome the objection; many subsequent amendments to the tax cut bill were subject to points of order). Senator Thomas contended that the Reid amendment was not relevant to the tax legislation and should be struck down. The Reid measure failed to attract the necessary 60-votes and was defeated by a 44-53 margin.

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