Taxing America and the definition of a vote
The Kerry campaign has been consistent on one matter: when votes in the Senate serve John Kerry, they are loudly paraded for all to see. When other votes don’t help him, loudly complain about “misrepresenting” Kerry’s record and negative campaigning.
Several weeks back, Kerry proclaimed that he had voted in favor of the Helms-Burton legislation to tighten restrictions on Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba. In fact he hadn’t voted for the final bill, but for a motion leading up to the bill. This is how Slate characterized this unique rationalization
Kerry aides told Wallsten that Kerry voted against the final bill because he disagreed with some technicalities added at the last minute, but that he voted for an earlier version of the bill. But every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate is subjected to a succession of votes, many of them tactical in nature. The only vote that counts is final passage. If it were otherwise, any legislator could claim to have voted for or against almost any bill, depending on the audience, and there would be no accountability at all.
However, Kerry would not heed this common-sense definition of “voting for” a bill and chose to highlight procedural motion and amendment votes while glossing the only vote that truly mattered: his position on the final legislation.
The Bush campaign then accepted Kerry’s wide definition of which votes count and declared that the Democrat had voted to raise taxes “350 times.” This may be a semantic argument (i.e. does voting against a tax cut constitute “raising taxes”?) but it is clear that on vote after vote throughout his Senate career, John Kerry voted in favor of the philosophy that higher taxes are always the better choice.
“Foul!” cried the Kerry campaign and Michael Kinsley complied
with an article criticizing the Bush campaign’s definition of a vote:
The logic seems to be that if a bill contains more than one item (as almost all bills do), it counts as separate votes for or against each item. The Bush list also includes several series of sequentially numbered votes, which are procedural twists on the same bill. And there are votes on the identical issue in different years.
Those “sequentially numbered votes” and “procedural twists” were good enough for John Kerry when he “voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it
.” But now they’re off-limits when Bush tries to illustrate how John Kerry has sought to keep taxes high on Americans.
And the Kerry campaign is still at it: this Dbunker post
has a series of votes cast by Kerry allegedly to lower the tax burden on Americans, with helpful Senate vote numbers. The problem is that every single one
is a rejected procedural motion vote before the final passage of Vote #179
– H.R. 2 – the Jobs and Growth Reconciliation Act of 2003.
On that bill, Kerry voted “Nay.” So when the Bush campaign runs an ad
declaring that John Kerry voted against tax relief for American families, it’s an un-debunkable fact
on Blogs for Bush]