Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. First elected in 1980 as part of a Republican sweep with the election of Ronald Reagan to the White House, Specter has been known as a moderate within his party. Yet, he voted with the Republican Party line on major taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. legislation from the past couple decades.
In 2001, Specter voted for the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) which saw reduction of tax rates and the introduction of a new 10 percent rate. While two Republicans (McCain and Chaffee) voted against EGTRRA, twelve Democrats voted for it (Feinstein, Lincoln, Cleland, Miller, Breaux, Landrieu, Carnahan, Baucus, Nelson, Torricelli, Johnson and Kohl).
In 2003, on a much more partisan vote, Specter voted for the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA), which accelerated provisions from EGTRRA. While Olympia Snowe of Maine joined McCain and Chaffee in voting against JGTRRA, only two Democrats voted for it (Miller and Nelson). With Specter’s party switch, he joins Ben Nelson of Nebraska as the only Democrats who voted for both the 2001 and 2003 tax rate cuts.
In earlier votes, Specter voted for the 1990 omnibus budget act which increased the top marginal tax rateThe marginal tax rate is the amount of additional tax paid for every additional dollar earned as income. The average tax rate is the total tax paid divided by total income earned. A 10 percent marginal tax rate means that 10 cents of every next dollar earned would be taken as tax. to 31 percent and increased the AMT rate to 24 percent, voted against the 1993 omnibus budget act which introduced the new higher tax rates of 36 and 39.6 percent, and voted for the 1997 Tax Relief Act which introduced the child credit.Share