October 7th, 2008
11:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama vote 94 times for higher taxes?

Sen. McCain said Obama 'has voted 94 times' for higher taxes.
Sen. McCain said Obama 'has voted 94 times' for higher taxes.

The Statement:
Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain said at the Oct. 7 presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, that Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama "has voted 94 times to either increase your taxes or against tax cuts. That's his record."

Get the facts!

The Facts:
The effort to convince voters that Sen. Barack Obama would support higher taxes is a central part of Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. McCain and the Republican National Committee have repeatedly cited 94 alleged votes by Obama to bolster their argument.

Factcheck.org, a non-partisan project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, pieced through records to determine just what these 94 votes were.

Key findings:
–53 were votes on budget resolutions or amendments that "could not have resulted by themselves in raising taxes," though many "were clear statements of approval for increased taxes"
–23 were against proposed tax cuts
–11 were to increase taxes on people making more than $1 million a year, to help fund programs such as Head Start, school nutrition, or veterans' health care
–Seven were "for measures that would have lowered taxes for many, while raising them on a relative few, either corporations or affluent individuals."
– The total includes multiple votes on the same measures.

Annenberg says a close look at the record reveals that Obama has "voted consistently to restore higher tax rates on upper-income taxpayers but not on middle- or low-income workers."

Verdict:
Misleading. McCain's summary ignores the fact that some of the votes were for measures to lower taxes for many Americans, while increasing them for a much smaller number of taxpayers. A nonpartisan examination also finds that the 94 total includes multiple votes on the same measures and budget votes that would not directly lead to higher taxes.


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