Wesley Clark on Tax Reform

NATO General; Democratic Candidate for President


Eliminate income tax for families earning under $50,000

Q: Which of the 2001 tax cuts would you change?

A: I support tax reform to make the tax code fairer, simpler, more progressive and more pro-growth. My plan will relieve the squeeze on middle-class families by eliminating federal income taxes entirely for families with children making less than $50,000 annually and by lowering taxes for all families making less than $100,000. I propose recapturing the portions of Bush’s tax cuts that went to the wealthiest Americans and using the money to create jobs.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “Taxes” , Jan 25, 2004

Tax simplification via a $2,250 child tax credit

Clark’s major tax simplification proposal will restore progressivity to the tax code, relieve the working-family squeeze and reduce poverty. A family of four making up to $50,000 would pay no federal income taxes, and all taxpaying families with children making up to $100,000 would get a tax cut. Clark’s plan will accomplish all this by consolidating and expanding on an existing confusing and uneven set of tax benefits for children, creating a new tax credit of $2,250 for each child.
Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Jan 1, 2004

Families First tax plan: fair,progressive,simple,responsible

Source: 2004 Presidential campaign website, Clark04.com , Jan 1, 2004

Repeal tax cut on top 2%--make tax code progressive

Q: You began to outline some of your economic priorities. You suggested you would keep some of the middle-class tax breaks but essentially get rid of much of the rest. You spent time as an investment banker. Don’t you believe that lower capital gains taxes and lower dividend taxes not only help the rich but also help to create jobs and help the economy overall?

CLARK: What we need to do in this economy is go back and look at our overall position for a deficit. We started with $5 trillion surplus. We went to a $5 trillion deficit, projected over 10 years. Now, this administration hasn’t had a real economic strategy. All it’s had is a tax-cut policy. We’re faced with a very serious deficit problem. We need to go back to the top 2% and repeal those tax cuts. We need to put all the government spending programs on the table, including the military programs. We need to then have no new programs unless you can pay as you go. And then we need a simpler, fairer, more progressive tax code.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003

Freeze Bush tax cuts which haven’t yet taken effect

Clark said he supports a “freeze” on Bush’s tax cuts that have yet to take effect for people earning $150,000 or more.
Source: Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A5 , Sep 19, 2003

Tax cut is a cut in essential services

We’ve looked at this deficit from the time that the tax cut was proposed. And there’s just no way any of the economists in their models can show you climbing out of this deficit situation. That’s things like taking care of our retirement security and Social Security. It’s helping the states and localities bring us the services that people need. So when you look at that tax cut that was passed, what that really means is a cut in services that Americans have considered essential.
Source: CNN, Crossfire , Aug 1, 2003

Middle- & working-class tax cuts are an economic-growth tool

Clark is a big believer in tax cuts as an economic-growth tool, only his tax cuts would be far more directed to the middle and working classes - ‘the people who actually need tax cuts and will spend it.’
Source: Paul Barton, Arkansas Democrat Gazette , Jul 13, 2003

Tax relief for middle class, not for the rich

I would not have designed a tax cut like this one because I don’t think the tax cut was efficient in terms of raising demand effectively in consideration with the amount of deficit that we have created. We are still suffering from a shortage of demand. I talk to my friends in the retail business, and they tell me that the American consumer is very hard stretched. We basically have a lot of people living on credit, multiple credit cards, and we have a lot of people living off of refinancing of their homes and reducing their mortgage costs, but those are transients, and what we need is to give those people a break.

I would like to give more tax relief to people who are making, let’s say, $100,000 a year and less, to working people with families who have responsibilities, and give less relief to people who are making, let’s say, $300,000 and above because when you don’t make as much money, you need to spend it on the necessities. And when you have more, you can spend it on the luxuries.“

Source: WCGU-FM interview on “Sound Off With Sasha” , Jun 27, 2003

$5T tax cuts for the rich are legalized theft

Clark accused the president of squandering a $5 trillion budget surplus in two years, largely by borrowing to give large tax cuts to the rich. ‘If it weren’t for the law, you’d call that theft.“
Source: USA Today, “Clark says he may run for president” , Jun 20, 2003

Supports redistribution by progressive taxation

We’ve had a principle in this government for almost 100 years of progressive taxation. We believed in some degree of redistribution of income to insure everybody had a certain safety net under them, a certain equality of opportunities. Government has a legitimate role in doing this.
Source: WBUR Public Radio interview , Jun 19, 2003

Irresponsible to borrow to give tax cuts to wealthy

I don’t like the path that we’re on. I think we needed a tax cut to stimulate demand, but the tax cut we got is inefficient, that is to say, it didn’t get much stimulus out a huge tax package. It’s unfair - it gave the majority of the benefits to the people who have the most already. We should have given them to the ordinary people, the working people who need the money desperately. [It’s] irresponsible to borrow money to give tax cuts to wealthy people.
Source: WBUR Public Radio interview , Jun 19, 2003

Minimize taxes but enough to meet people’s needs

Taxes are something that you want to have as little of as possible, but you need as much revenue as necessary to meet people’s needs for services.
Source: Meet The Press, reported on DraftWesleyClark.com , Jun 15, 2003

Bush tax cuts were unfair; use progressive taxation

The Bush tax cuts weren’t fair. The people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life.
Source: Meet The Press, reported on DraftWesleyClark.com , Jun 15, 2003

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Wesley Clark on other issues:
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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016