by Ken Rankin
Washington — Although his views on tax policy are already on the left end of the political spectrum, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry could find himself nudged even further in that direction by his running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards.
During the primary election campaign, Edwards blasted the Bush administration for “trying to shift the tax burden in America from wealth to work,” and vowed to undo many of the tax cuts enacted during the past two years.
Calling the president’s tax cuts “an enormous mistake,” Edwards has proposed eliminating all of the administration’s tax breaks “for the top two income brackets — people who make over $200,000 a year,” and closing “a whole group of corporate tax loopholes to generate revenue that will get us back to the path of fiscal responsibility.”
Among the specific tax reductions that Edwards has criticized: the administration’s push to eliminate the capital gains tax, the dividends tax, the estate tax and “all the taxation of wealth or passive income on wealth.”
Rather than lowering the tax burden for the wealthy, “We ought to actually raise the capital gains rate for those who earn over $300,000 a year, so that the rate is more in line with the income tax rate paid by people who work for a living,” he said.
In the Senate, Edwards voted against phasing out the federal estate tax, for increasing tax deductions for college education, and against eliminating the “marriage penalty” for two-income households.
During his term in the Senate, the North Carolina Democrat also advanced legislation of his own in response to the corporate accounting scandals that brought down Enron, Arthur Andersen and other major organizations.
Under his proposed “Shareholder & Worker Bill of Rights,” Edwards called for curbs on excessive chief executive compensation as well as new rules to “require honest accounting” by public corporations.
Citing what he called “a moral crisis in corporate America,” Edwards proposed a “right-to-know law for CEO pay to make sure that the companies that are getting big tax deductions for big pay only get them when that pay is actually linked to the performance of the companies.”
A separate provision of the proposed bill would have entitled corporate shareholders “to nominate board members so they can have a say in how the company runs.”
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