Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
Hillary Clinton has made it clear on multiple occasions she doesn’t want to raise taxes on the middle class, but the Republican Party of Florida said she once voted to do just that.
The party posted an image on its Facebook page that says Clinton "voted to raise taxes on workers earning as little as $41,500."
Is Clinton guilty of double speak? What we found is the truth was far more nuanced than the what the image claims.
Clinton’s 2008 budget vote
We never heard back from the Republican Party of Florida for evidence of this claim, but we did find the likely explanation from the Republican National Committee, which made a similar claim Aug. 17, 2016.
The GOP cites a March 14, 2008, vote, when Clinton joined Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine, in voting for Senate Continuing Resolution 70. The measure passed 51-44.
Continuing Resolution 70 set the framework for the 2008-09 federal budget. It crafted a $3 trillion roadmap for lawmakers to follow in building the next year’s federal budget. It also created revenue markers for future years, so lawmakers could begin to contemplate how the budget picture may look down the road.
If this reads like a mushy description, it is.
As the New York Times put it at the time, the resolution -- and the companion passed in the House "are nonbinding and represent no formal action on either spending or taxes."
Literally speaking, Clinton’s vote did nothing. ("Congress engages in $3 trillion political act," read the headline in the International Herald Tribune.)
So how do Republicans claim CR 70 is evidence she voted to raise taxes on the middle class?
Among the measures contained in CR 70 were revenue projections that assumed a number of temporary tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003 would expire at the end of 2010.
The resolution endorsed extending $340 billion worth of the tax cuts, the Associated Press reported at the time, but "balked at continuing all of them."
Among the projected revenue changes that Clinton voted for, one would have raised the 25 percent tax bracket back to its pre-2001 level of 28 percent.
At the time of the vote, that 25 percent tax bracket started at $32,551 for single filers and went up to $78,850. Because of deductions people are allowed to claim, someone would need to make $41,500 a year to fall into the 25 percent tax bracket.
A misleading attack
There are several problems with this claim, however.
Clinton’s vote was nonbinding. As we already mentioned, the vote didn’t affect people’s pocketbooks. CR 70 had no binding impact on the tax policy in the United States in 2008, 2009 or any year after that.
The Bush tax cuts weren’t set to expire until the end of 2010. Clinton and everyone else knew that the Bush-era tax cuts wouldn’t expire until the end of 2010, when a new Congress and president would be in office. That means a different set of lawmakers would ultimately decide the fate of the tax cuts.
In fact, it was a key point during the 2008 presidential election.
Clinton the candidate wanted to extend the Bush-era cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year. Clinton, who was still seeking the Democratic nomination at the time of the vote, had promised to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans.
"I am absolutely committed to not raising a single tax on middle- class Americans, people making less than $250,000 a year," Clinton said at an ABC News debate in April 2008, a month after her vote on CR 70.
"In fact, I have a very specific plan of $100 billion in tax cuts that would go to help people afford health care, security retirement plans, you know, make it possible for people to get long-term care insurance and care for their parents and grandparents who they are trying to support, making college affordable and so much else."
Many of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were always scheduled to expire. From their initial passage, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts had a sunset provision. Again, in a literal sense, no vote was necessary to roll back many of the tax-cutting provisions. The laws were crafted to do that without any vote.
William Gale, an economist at the Tax Policy Center and Brookings Institution, said allowing a temporary tax provision to expire is different from voting for a tax increase. "In both cases, taxes would go up, but if the claim is that she VOTED for it, that seems not right to me," Gale wrote in an email.
The Republican Party of Florida said on Facebook the Hillary Clinton "voted to raise taxes on workers earning as little as $41,500."
Clinton voted for a nonbinding Senate resolution in 2008 that envisioned a world where many of the Bush-era tax cuts would have been allowed to sunset, as intended, at the end of 2010. In that world, tax rates would have gone up for someone making about $41,500 a year.
But Clinton also said that had she been elected president, she would not have supported such a change and promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.
Neither action ultimately mattered -- Clinton’s vote didn’t carry the force of law and she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
The Republican Party of Florida’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.https://www.sharethefacts.co/share/b7240877-8897-4bf0-8aad-8d7b2cd9b214
Email interview, William Gale, Senior Fellow in Economics Studies at the Brookings Institute, Aug. 23, 2016
Email interview with Scott Greenberg, analyst at the Tax Foundation, Aug. 23, 2016
Interview, Harry Stein, the director of fiscal policy at the Center For American Progress Action Fund, Aug. 23-26, 2016
Email Interview, Dan Mitchell, economist at the Cato Institute, Aug. 24, 2016
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump wrongly says Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on the middle class," Aug. 5, 2016
Facebook post, Republican Party of Florida, Aug. 19, 2016
FactCheck.org, "The $32,000 Question," July 8, 2010
Congress.gov, "S.Con.Res.70 - An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2009 and including the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2008 and 2010 through 2013."
GOP.com, "Hillary's Tax Fairness = Make Those Earning $41,500 Pay More," Aug. 17, 2016
Senate.gov, "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress - 2nd Session," Vote date March 14, 2008
Bankrate.com, "2008 Tax brackets."
Paywizard.org, "Income tax 2008."
Associated Press, Senate approves federal budget, March 14, 2008, accessed via Nexis
ABC News, Transcript: Obama and Clinton Debate, April 16, 2008
International Herald Tribune, Congress engages in $3 trillion political act, March 15, 2008, accessed via Nexis
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.