FACT CHECK: Did Top Democrats Support Corporate Tax Cuts?

Kush Desai | Fact Check Reporter

GOP Sen. Tim Scott claimed during a Tuesday CNN debate that many Democrats have expressed support for lower corporate tax rates.

He rattled off a list of names that included prominent Democratic senators and former President Barack Obama.

Verdict: True

All the Democrats named by Scott have signaled support for reducing statutory corporate tax rates in recent years, but usually in conjunction with closing corporate tax loopholes and other reforms to the tax code.

Fact Check:

Democrats have voiced significant opposition to GOP efforts to pass tax reform, arguing in part that Republican plans provide undue tax relief for corporations at the expense of the middle class.

Scott pushed back on these criticisms by claiming that many prominent Democrats, such as Obama and Democratic Sens. Mike Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Heidi Heitkamp, Ron Wyden, Claire McCaskill and Mark Warner, have supported corporate tax cuts in the past.

Indeed, two prominent Democrats mentioned by Scott – Obama and Wyden – proposed actual legislation that would have cut corporate tax rates.

Wyden introduced a bipartisan bill in 2011 that would have simplified the tax code, while slashing the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent.

Wyden’s bill did not become law, but one year later the Obama White House proposed a tax reform framework that also proposed lowering the top corporate tax rate to 28 percent.

Other Democratic senators named by Scott have underscored problems with the current tax system, including the corporate tax rate.

Bennet, for instance, argued in 2011 that high U.S. corporate tax rates are “sending a very uncompetitive message to the world.”

Warner, Klobuchar and Heitkamp have also voiced support for lower corporate tax rates in various contexts. “Obviously, the nominal rate is very high,” said Heitkamp in October. “I think we need to adjust the nominal rate to be more competitive globally.”

Scott did not mention during the debate, however, that many of these Democrats wanted to pair cutting corporate tax rates with closing tax loopholes, such as the carried-interest provision that the GOP tax bills keep.

For some Democrats, this has been an impediment to signing onto the GOP tax plan. McCaskill said in a recent press release that she would be “the first to sign up” for a new, bipartisan bill that “delivers real tax relief to working people, cleans out the loopholes exploited by the rich and corporations, and lowers the corporate tax rate.”

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Kush Desai

Fact Check Reporter