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Wisconsin Republican Mark Neumann has repeatedly cast himself as more conservative than his three opponents in the Aug. 14, 2012 U.S. Senate primary -- and he often cites his record on taxes as evidence.
On the tax reform page of his campaign website, Neumann declares he is "the only candidate who has never supported a tax increase."
On another page, he says that during his two terms in the House of Representatives in the 1990s, he "repeatedly voted for lower taxes — never raising taxes."
And a host of anti-tax groups have given him awards.
But congressmen cast many votes.
When it comes to Neumann’s claim that he never voted to raise taxes during his four years in Congress, at least two bills he voted for -- the Balanced Budget Act and the Taxpayer Relief Act -- raise questions.
As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office notes, the two were companion measures that President Bill Clinton signed into law on Aug. 5, 1997. Together they cut taxes by $370 billion, mostly through tax credits for families with children, and raised other taxes, primarily on cigarettes and air travel, by $130 billion.
That’s a net tax reduction of $240 billion -- which the budget office pointed out was the first major reduction in federal taxes since the early 1980s.
But, obviously, $130 billion in tax increases isn’t small change, either.
In response, Neumann campaign manager Chip Englander said:
"Neumann has always, always, always said he is fine making changes to our tax structure as long as the overall impact is the same or lower taxes."
But that’s not the statement we’re testing. The claim was an absolute.
Neumann said he never voted for a tax increase.
But looking at just two of the major bills he supported, although they contained $370 billion in tax decreases, they also contained $130 billion in tax increases.
We rate Neumann’s statement False.
Mark Neumann campaign website, Tax Reform page
Mark Neumann campaign website, Meet Mark page
GovTrack.us, Balanced Budget Act of 1997
GovTrack.us, Taxpayers Relief Act of 1997
Government Printing Office, text of Balanced Budget Act of 1997
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A historically polarized Congress; an increasingly conservative GOP," Feb. 25, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin Senate hopefuls Neumann and Baldwin personify the chasm between the parties," Sept. 14, 2011
Congressional Budget Office, "Budgetary implications of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997," December 1997
Congressional Budget Office, "Budgetary implications of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997," December 1997
Congressional Budget Office, "An economic analysis of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997," April 2000
Email interview, Mark Neumann campaign manager Chip Englander, Aug. 3 and 7, 2012
Wisconsin Historical Society, Mark Neumann Blue Book biography
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