Key Kentucky Democrats buck party and support keeping Bush tax cuts

08/13/2010 03:35 PM

Although national Democrats warn that continuing tax cuts for wealthy and middle class Americans could add to the debt, some Kentucky Democrats — including U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler — support extending some or most of the Bush-era cuts.

Conway said he favors keeping in place many of the cuts approved during George W. Bush’s administration. Among those specific breaks Conway favors keeping for “five, eight, maybe 10” years include lower income tax rates for wealthy and middle class Americans and a lower capital gains tax. And he said he wants to continue the temporary elimination of the estate tax.

Such positions are similar to that of his Republican opponent, Rand Paul.

Another wrinkle in this is that Kentucky Democrats have been railing against Bush for driving up the deficit and for “getting us into this mess,” as former Democratic Gov. Paul Patton put it last weekend at a Democratic Party function. One of the major factors in increasing the debt was the lower revenue the government brings in because of the tax cuts.

So is it inconsistent for Democrats to criticize Bush for running a deficit yet support one of Bush’s moves that put the budget out of whack?  We asked Kentucky Democrats for their position on the tax cuts and these related questions:

And Conway isn’t the only Democrat in a tough election fight who supports extending at least some of the cuts.

Chandler told cn|2 Politics this week that while he wants to see “what the bill is,” he favors keeping some of the cuts, such as the middle class income tax cut, in place. Here’s what he has to say:

The cn|2 Poll last week found that a plurality of voters (46.9%) said they’d rather see the Bush tax cuts remain in place compared to 37.8% who said they’d like to see them expire.

U.S. Senate leaders have predicted a showdown over the issue as early as September.

Nationally, officials in President Barack Obama’s administration, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have called for allowing the tax cuts to expire. Geithner, for instance, said keeping them in place would add $700 billion to the debt over the next 10 years. Republican leaders, including Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have begun arguing to keep the cuts because letting them expire would amount to a tax increase at a critical time when the country is trying to shake off the recession.

Only a few Senate Democrats so far have come out in favor of keeping the Bush tax cuts. They include retiring Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

- Ryan Alessi with video produced by Holly Thompson and Chris Bratton

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