Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Biden and Palin – Comparing and Contrasting their Tax Views

Over the past week there has been a lot of media attention on the United States economy. With huge government buyouts, and record-breaking drops in the stock market, Americans are looking to the Presidential candidates for more information on their tax and economic plans.

In the past week weeks I have given an in depth look at both Vice Presidential candidate’s (see the entries on Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin), and with the recent developments in our economy I thought it prudent to also compare the differences in their respective tax views on a few key issues.

Balanced Budget:

Joe Biden:

Senator Biden feels strongly that a balanced budget should be high up on the next president’s priority list. On top of consistently voting for what he believes were fair and balanced budget amendments since 1997, Biden has also voted against bills he felt would lead to an unbalanced budget. In 1990, Biden voted against George H. W. Bush’s budget bill, which aimed to raise taxes drastically over a five-year period. In 2000, Biden also voted against making tax cuts a priority over national debt reduction.

Biden’s own budget plan for the next few years includes cutting funding for the war (by which he hopes to generate over $100 billion in federal revenue), and eliminating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. He also plans on eliminating tax cuts for investment on dividends – which he claims could generate $195 billion in revenue over time.

Sarah Palin:

From the moment Palin took office as the Governor of Alaska, she began looking for ways to cut spending in all areas of the government. By cutting local project programs, selling a corporate jet, firing unnecessary government staff, and directing state agencies to reduce excess spending, she was able to reduce the states spending by $124 million. However, a $7 billion education and savings plan, new ice rink, and other local investments eventually led her state into debt. While the governor made many positive changes to Alaska and provided youth and cultural opportunity, debate rages at to whether her cuts were effective or not.

The difference:

Both candidates obviously agree that balancing the budget is an important task, though possibly on different levels. While Biden has experience working as a Senator to fix the national budget, Palin’s experience is limited to the state level. Without further statements from Palin herself, it’s hard to tell exactly what her plans for the budget are on the national level.

Gasoline Prices, Taxes, and Solutions:


Knowing our dependence on oil and need for change, Biden has outlined multiple ways to help fix our countries current energy crisis. While other candidates have supported a gas tax holiday, Biden opposes the concept claiming that is merely a temporary solution. By pushing to reduce our dependence on oil entirely, Biden hopes to ease the demand for fossil fuels and also fight global warming. In 2005 he voted yes to bills that aim to significantly reduce oil by 2025, and for tax incentives to encourage energy production and conservation. He also voted against multiple bills promoting oil leasing programs in Alaska’s ANWR.


A strong supporter of a gas tax holiday, Palin feels there is plenty of oil available for drilling in this country. Alaska has some of the highest gas prices in the country, and to help out citizens of her state Palin signed a gas tax holiday into law, and also pushed to get one time energy rebates sent out to Alaska taxpayers. Another one of Palin’s energy programs was known as Alaska’s “energy efficient month,” where the government provided incentives for reduced energy consumption. Although Palin has achieved some success in helping Alaska’s energy problems many wonder whether or not she will be able to do the same on the national level as the programs were made possible by windfall taxes from oil companies drilling in Alaska.

The Difference:

The only real similarity between the candidates is the fact that they both realize we are in an energy crisis. While Biden plans to make our nation less dependent on petroleum, Palin is very vocal about her support for increased offshore drilling. Palin does claim she supports green energy projects, but views them of secondary importance.



It is no secret that senator Biden has quite an earmark record. His FY09 requests total about $330 million, and it has caused a lot of bad publicity for Biden. Although it is not uncommon for members of Congress to take advantage of earmark spending, it is not helpful for a campaign running on the idea of change in a time of economic uncertainty.


Although she’s taken stride to criticize both Obama and Biden on their earmark spending, Palin does have a record of wasteful spending. The infamous “bridge to nowhere” project, which she first embraced and then, later, dropped, was estimated at about $398 million. Obama criticized Palin for the first time ever on September 6th, and on her earmark policies in particular:

"I know the governor of Alaska has been saying she's change, and that's great," Obama said. "She's a skillful politician. But, you know, when you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can't just make stuff up."

The Difference:

While no one tries to say straight out they “favor” earmarks, Biden is, if at all, more open and honest about it. It was a considered risky move on Palin’s part to be so critical on earmarks when she had does have some history of them herself.

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