Hoekstra Applauds House Dems For Supporting Tax Cuts

June 5, 2002
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WASHINGTON — If the U.S. Senate can be induced to support the cut in the so-called income tax marriage penalty, nearly 60,000 shoreline families will benefit.

That's what Congressman Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, said last week after a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives approved President Bush's proposal to relieve the bulge in tax rates for middle-income families.

According to the five-term congressman, a study by the Heritage Foundation indicates 59,111 families in his district will pay lower taxes under the plan.

With considerable support from Democrats, the GOP majority in the House has voted the penalty down in several sessions of Congress.  Each time, however, former President Clinton vetoed the measure, saying it favored the rich.

House members last month voted 282-144 to approve the Marriage Penalty and Family Tax Relief Act of 2001 (H.R. 6), with 217 Republicans, 64 Democrats and one independent supporting the bill.

Hoekstra noted that 51 Democrats supported similar legislation in the last Congress.

"I am pleased that so many Democrats joined us in moving forward this key component of President Bush's tax relief plan," Hoekstra said in a formal statement.

"Married couples shouldn't be discriminated against by the tax code — it's not fair and our plan will fix that. This proposal also helps stay-at-home moms and dads. Raising a child — especially in this day and age — is the most important job that parents have. This bill helps them do that by reducing the amount of money they have to pay the government, which allows them to focus their resources on more important things like the well-being of their children."

The question now is whether the Senate, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, will approve any part of the president's tax plan when it takes up the measure in May (last week the Senate rejected the president's budget outline by a narrow margin).

The Senate's Democratic leaders are on record as strongly opposing the measure because they allege that it favors the rich.  Moreover, it's questionable whether two Republicans — Sen. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who despises the president — will support tax cuts.

The so-called marriage penalty is not an actual penalty, but a tax table anomaly which, nonetheless, does take more out of many — though not all — couples' joint incomes, more than it would if they were not married and filed their taxes separately.

Hoeskstra said the change in the tax tables would benefit millions of married couples by removing an unfair tax burden.

The measure, he added, also helps families with children by increasing the per-child tax credit from $500 to $1,000.

H.R. 6 would provide roughly $400 billion over 10 years in tax relief to families by increasing the child-care tax credit and fixing the marriage penalty tax. In addition, this legislation also increases the standard deduction, expands the 15 percent tax bracket, doubles the earned income tax credit for low-income families and adjusts the alternative minimum tax.

Hoekstra said families with 128,456 children in his district would benefit from the increased child tax credit. Statewide, he said, the measure would benefit nearly two million children.

"All married couples, not just a select few, should be given relief from the marriage penalty," Hoekstra said.

"In addition, doubling the child tax credit is one of the most pro-family initiatives we will consider in Congress. Raising the credit from $500 to $1,000 certainly helps families who are low and middle income."

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