Biden Has A Pro-Tax Career
Since then, with a few exceptions, Biden usually has supported higher taxes, although he has voted against specific tax increases when they have been advanced by Republican presidents.
In 1981, when President Reagan was pushing for across-the-board-tax cuts, Biden twice voted for bills that would have curtailed the effect of Reagan’s proposal.
First, on July 16, 1981, he voted against a measure that called for indexing the income-tax rates to inflation beginning in 1985. In a July 17, 1981 story, The Washington Post reported that the purpose of the bill was “to offset the tax increases that otherwise occur inexorably each year as incomes rise with inflation, lifting people into higher tax brackets.”
Then, on July 23, 1981, Biden supported an amendment sponsored by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) that would have rolled back the tax cuts for anyone making over $50,000 per year. On July 17, 1981, the New York Times explained that the purpose of this amendment was “to limit personal income-tax relief to one round of rate cuts and to tilt the relief toward those who earn less than $50,000 a year.”
Nonetheless, when the full Reagan tax cuts came up for a final vote, Biden voted in favor of them, as did 88 of his Senate colleagues. Only 11 Senators voted against the Reagan bill, including 10 Democrats and 1 Republican.
The next year, Biden cast an ironic vote against a $98.3 billion tax increase supported by President Reagan and pushed through the Senate by Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.). The bill passed the Senate 52-47, with 35 other Democrats joining Biden in voting against it.
The next March, he voted for a $40 billion increase in Social Security taxes.
In June 1986, Biden supported an effort by Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) to raise the top income tax rate to 35%.
On October 18, 1990, Biden voted against the budget bill pushed by President George H.W. Bush that would raise taxes by $164-billion over five years. Before Biden did that, however, he supported an amendment sponsored by then-Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) to raise the income-tax rate on middle-class American families to 33%.
Gore’s amendment, reported an October 19, 1990 story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, “raised the top income tax rate from 28 to 33 percent for married couples earning more than $78,400 a year and individuals earning more than $ 47,050, increased the minimum tax from 21 to 25 percent and imposed a 10 percent surcharge on taxable income for one person exceeding $ 1 million a year.”
On August 6, 1993, Biden voted for $241 billion in new taxes over five years pushed by President Clinton. This was a bigger increase in taxes than the Bush tax hike Biden had voted against in 1990.
Biden voted against both of President George W. Bush’s major tax cuts, voting “no” on May 26, 2001 against Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut, and “no” on May 23, 2001 against President Bush’s $350 billion tax cut.
Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, joined Biden in voting “no” against both the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. In 2003, the Senate vote ended up being a 50-50 tie, and Vice President Dick Cheney ended up casting a tie-breaking vote for the tax cut to be enacted.
Every year the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union gives each member of Congress a grade on taxing and spending issues. The NTU looks at every vote that “significantly affects taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers,” attaches a weight to each vote, and then scores the members of Congress accordingly.
In all but three of the 16 years between 1992 and 2007, NTU gave Biden an “F” on taxing and spending. In 2007, NTU gave him a 4% rating and ranked him 94th out of 100 senators.