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Oops! Clark Falsely Accuses Kerry & Edwards on Taxes

The General says he can't understand why they voted for Bush tax cuts. Well, they didn't.


Talk about going into battle based on bad intelligence.

Clark lashed into Kerry and Edwards Feb. 4 for doing something they never did: voting in favor of President Bush’s tax-cut bills “for the very rich.”

In fact, neither senator supported either the 2001 or the 2003 Bush tax-cut measures. And both Kerry and Edwards have consistently called for repealing the portion of the cuts that apply to upper-income taxpayers.


According to CNN, Clark said Feb. 4 in Jackson, Tennessee:  “I don’t understand how John Kerry and John Edwards can criticize the state of our economy and claim to be champions of America’s working families, when they voted for the president’s tax cuts for the very rich.”

The Associated Press also quoted Clark as saying that Kerry and Edwards voted for the Bush tax cuts. Both the Kerry and Edwards campaigns disputed Clark’s statement, and the Edwards campaign even posted a denial on its own Web site.

Clark may now wish he had never uttered those words. In fact, they were missing the next morning from the version of Clark’s speech that his campaign posted on his own Web site.

And no wonder — Clark was flat wrong.

Check the voting records:

  • Kerry and Edwards were both among the “Nay” votes against Bush’s 2001 tax-cut bill — the “Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001” — when it first came up in the Senate on May 23, 2001. It passed 62-38.
  • And on May 26, 2001 when the House-Senate compromise bill came up for the final Senate vote required to send the measure on for the President’s signature, Edwards voted “Nay.” Kerry was absent but his vote would not have made a difference: the bill passed 58-33.
  • The second Bush tax-cut bill came up two years later, the “Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.” And both Kerry and Edwards voted “Nay” when it was first considered on May 15, 2003. It passed 51-49.
  • And when the JGTRRA tax-cut bill came up for final passage May 23, 2003, Edwards and Kerry both voted “Nay.” The vote was 50-50, and the measure became law only because Vice President Cheney cast the tie-breaking vote in his Constitutional role as President of the Senate.

Footnote: There was one more bit of faulty intelligence in Clark’s speech. He said “We can do better than 3 million lost jobs lost.” In reality, the total job loss under President Bush never reached 3 million, as we’ve pointed out before.

At its worst last June, the job loss was 2.7 million, and as of the most recent tally by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December total employment was 2.3 million below what it was when Bush took office.

(Note: Kerry and Edwards did vote for for an economic stimulus package in 2002 that contained a hefty but temporary tax cut for businesses, currently set to expire at the end of this year. Unlike the two much larger Bush tax cuts, this one contained no cuts for individual taxpayers. The measure also extended unemployment benefits for 13 additional weeks for individuals who had exhausted their 26 weeks of regular coverage. The “Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002” passed the Senate March 8, 2002, with only nine senators voting against it.)



Clark lashes out at Kerry, Edwards” CNN.com 5 Feb. 2004: Posted: 10:52 AM EST.

Beth Fouhy “An energized Clark questions Kerry, Edwards amid money woes,” The Associated Press 4 Feb. 2003.

Wesley K. Clark “Tennessee True Values Tour Remarks ” Jackson, TN
4 Feb. 2004.

“Edwards Campaign Responds to Clark’s Negative Attacks,” www.johnedwards2004.com 4 Feb. 2004 posted 5:22PM.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress – 1st Session: Votes # 165 & # 170.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 108th Congress – 1st Session: Votes #179 & #196.

U.S.  Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress – 2nd Session  vote #44.