Associated Press: Michigan delegation splits over tax cuts

May 14, 2006

Michigan's Republicans in Congress supported a $70 billion package of tax cuts that extends lower rates for investors and provides billions in savings for families with above-average incomes.
Democrats in the delegation said the bill cutting taxes on capital gains and dividends would mostly help the wealthy instead of the middle class and contended it would protect tax breaks for the oil industry.
All nine Republican House members supported the bill, which passed the House last week on a 244-185 vote. GOP members said it would help married couples, small business owners and seniors while preventing a tax hike that would be unwelcome by Americans.
"The bottom line is that these tax cuts will help our economy grow, which is exactly what Michigan needs most right now," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland.
Rep. Candice Miller, a Republican from Macomb County's Harrison Township, said without congressional action, "taxes would have significantly risen, and the last thing that Michigan families can afford right now is higher taxes."
All six of the Michigan Democrats in Congress voted against the bill. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, said it would provide an average tax cut of $42,000 for those earning $1 million or better, while middle-class families would only see a tax cut of about $20.
Levin said the bill "has caviar for the very wealthy and mostly crumbs for America's working families."
In the Senate, Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow opposed the measure. The bill was approved on a 54-44 vote and President Bush is scheduled to sign it on Wednesday.
Stabenow faulted the bill for not focusing on tax relief for middle class families and continuing "to reward the oil companies with huge tax breaks."
"At a time when people in Michigan are being hit with record prices at the pump while oil companies make record profits, I can't support a bill protecting billions in tax breaks for the oil industry and the most wealthy, at the expense of average citizens," she said.
The measure implements a two-year extension of the reduced 15 percent tax rate for capital gains and dividends, which was set to expire at the end of 2008. It also extends for a year recent changes to the alternative minimum tax to prevent it from hitting more upper middle-income families.