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By Sean Gorman December 17, 2011

Tim Kaine says George Allen cast "the deciding vote" for 2003 Bush tax cuts

Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine recently took a swipe at his likely Republican opponent, George Allen for supporting tax cuts passed under former President George W. Bush.

Kaine charged the tax breaks have exacerbated the country’s deficit, and he argued Allen shared the blame for that.

"These (Bush) tax cuts were put in place, I believe in 2003. George (Allen) was the deciding vote for them to be put in place," Kaine said during a Dec. 7 debate between the two candidates.

Did Allen cast the pivotal vote on whether those tax cuts went into effect? We decided to check.

The Bush era tax cuts were enacted in two phases.

The first phase, in 2001, lowered income tax rates, levies on estates, and rebated money to tax filers. The package, projected to cost $1.35 trillion over 10 years, easily passed the Senate by a 58-33 vote with Allen’s support.

The second phase, in 2003, lowered taxes on stock dividends and long-term capital gains, among other provisions. The package, projected to cost $350 billion over six years, passed by the slimmest of margins in the Senate.

Allen was among 48 Republican senators and two Democrats who voted in favor of the bill. On the other end, 46 Democrats, three Republicans and one independent voted against it. That led to a 50-50 split.

Vice President Dick Cheney, a Republican, cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate and the measure passed, 51-50.

So did Allen have the deciding vote?

Yes, said Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the Kaine campaign. He said if Allen had voted against the 2003 tax cuts, they would have failed by a 51-49 Senate vote.

We read news articles that ran the day after the vote in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They all prominently stated that Cheney cast the tie-breaking vote. None of them mentioned Allen.

Our Conclusion:

Kaine said Allen cast "the deciding vote" in passing the 2003 package of Bush tax cuts.

It’s true that Allen’s support helped lead to a 50-50 split, setting up a tie-breaking vote for the tax cuts by Vice President Cheney. And Kaine accurately argues that had Allen voted differently, the legislation would have failed.

But the outcome would have been altered if any of the 50 senators who supported the tax cuts  had voted differently. And we can add Cheney, who broke the tie. That brings us to 51 people who, by Kaine’s rationale, cast "the deciding vote."  

Let’s compare the scenario to a basketball game that’s tied, 50-50, after four quarters of play and won, by one point, on a dramatic shot at the end of overtime by a player named Jones. Fans would marvel at how Jones’ shot won the game. But Kaine, under his logic, could attribute the ‘‘deciding’’ basket to anyone who scored for the winning team, including Smith, who sank a free throw in the second quarter.

It would be misleading to spread word that Smith hit the the game winner. It is similarly misleading for Kaine to claim Allen cast the "deciding vote" on the 2003 tax cuts when Cheney broke the tie at the end. We rate Kaine’s statement False.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Senate Debate -- Allen vs. Kaine --- 1 of 2," (statement is at 16:03 into the video).

E-mail from Michael Kelly, Kaine campaign spokesman, December 13, 2011.

PolitiFact, "Bush tax cuts were passed with reconciliation’s 50 votes," March 4, 2010.

Thomas,roll call vote on 2003 Bush tax cuts, May 23, 2003.

Thomas, roll call vote on 2001 Bush tax cuts, May 26, 2001.

The Washington Post, Congress Passes $350 billion tax cut, May 24, 2003.

The New York Times, With Tax Cut Bill Passed, Republicans Call for More, May 24, 2003.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, $350 billion tax-cut bill gets Congress’ final OK, May 24, 20

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Tim Kaine says George Allen cast "the deciding vote" for 2003 Bush tax cuts

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