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PolitiFact: Grayson says Bush tax cuts were passed with reconciliation's 50 votes

The statement

Reconciliation was used "for tax cuts for the rich twice under Bush."

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson on Wednesday in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live

The ruling

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., has a reputation for using political rhetoric that pushes the envelope. On Wednesday, he appeared on CNN's Larry King Live along with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who's also known for her outspokenness from the opposite ideological perspective.

Bachmann started the exchange by saying the Senate should not finalize health care reform by using reconciliation, a parliamentary maneuver that requires only 50 votes, instead of the 60 needed to stop filibusters. Bachmann said the Senate would have to "break their own rules in order to pass the bill."

Grayson disagreed, naturally.

"My esteemed colleague from Minnesota is entirely wrong," Grayson replied. "There's nothing in Senate rules that prevents reconciliation. It's been used 22 times overall and 14 times by Republicans. If it's good enough for tax cuts for the rich twice under Bush, it's good enough to provide health care for all Americans."

Here, we wanted to check Grayson's statement that reconciliation was used "for tax cuts for the rich twice under Bush."

Grayson's staff said he was referring to the large tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. Both were passed by reconciliation.

The 2001 tax cuts passed 58-33. All of the Republican senators (with the exception of John McCain, R-Ariz.) were joined by 12 Democrats to pass the measure.

But the tax cuts were across-the-board rate reductions for all tax filers, a detail that Grayson omitted when describing them as being "for the rich."

The 2003 tax cuts passed in the Senate by 51-50, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking the tie. (The vice president is technically the president of the Senate and can break ties.) Only two Democrats joined the Republicans.

The 2003 tax cuts included a number of measures, but the most significant reductions were taxes on dividends and capital gains taxes. Typically, these taxes are on investment income, and those cuts tend to give a bigger break to taxpayers with higher incomes.

Grayson takes a bit of a liberty by describing the measures as "tax cuts for the rich," especially the 2001 cuts, when tax rates were rolled back across income categories. But Grayson is correct that the tax cuts were both passed by reconciliation. So we rate his statement Mostly True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For the full ruling — and others — go to

PolitiFact: Grayson says Bush tax cuts were passed with reconciliation's 50 votes 03/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 4, 2010 10:30pm]
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