Wesley Clark Campaigns In New Hampshire
Michael Springer  /  Getty Images
Clark and his wife, Gertrude, greet audience members at a Sunday breakfast campaign event in Manchester, N.H.
updated 1/5/2004 6:46:52 PM ET 2004-01-05T23:46:52

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark offered his plan Monday to simplify the tax system and reduce or eliminate the burden on lower- and middle-class families by making the wealthiest Americans pay more.

“My tax-reform plan is simple,” Clark said. “Those who make the most should pay more. Those who make the least should pay less.”

Calling his plan “the most sweeping tax reform this nation has seen in years,” the retired general said families of four that make less than $50,000 a year will not pay any income tax. All taxpaying families with children and making under $100,000 will get a tax cut.

Clark acknowledged that single people without children wouldn’t benefit much from his plan, aside from changes to the earned income tax credit for low-income taxpayers.

Help for 'growing families'
“This plan is designed to help growing families,” he said.

To pay for changes in the tax code, Clark would repeal President Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year. He would raise the tax rates another 5 percent for those who make $1 million or more each year.

“The bottom line is our tax system is broken. The Republicans are always talking about family values, but it’s about time in America that we started valuing families,” he said. “This is a matter of seeing what’s right for America and having the courage to demand it. I see it, and I will demand it.”

Clark said his proposals will allow taxpayers to fill out a three-line form that will determine if they have to pay income taxes. That form would ask their income, their marital status and their number of children.

“And if it all adds up to 50,000 or less — and two children or more — then you should put away your checkbook,” he said.

No forms
The federal government would figure out individual taxes and deduct that amount from the taxpayers’ paychecks so that no tax forms would have to be filled out. People would still have the option of filling out a 1040 form.

Clark said the additional revenue that comes from increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans and closing corporate loopholes would pay for the changes in taxes for lower- and middle-income families.

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A spokesman for rival Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut criticized Clark’s plan, saying it would give more control to the Internal Revenue Service while helping only a fraction of the middle class.

“This is nothing more than a mini-me version of Lieberman’s plan — its not a middle class tax cut,” said Jano Cabrera.

Roger Salazar, spokesman for Sen. John Edwards, criticized Clark for exempting capital gains from the higher tax rate on those earning more than $1 million. Edwards has proposed a new 25 percent tax on the unearned wealth or capital gains of the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

'Special rules for unearned wealth'
“Unfortunately, we continue to see plans that create special rules for unearned wealth, even from other Democrats,” Salazar said.

On Sunday, Clark sought to end speculation that he would agree to be a running mate for Howard Dean or any other Democrat should he fail in his bid for the party’s nomination for president.

“I am not running to be vice president,” Clark told Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I do not intend to accept that nomination, and I will not.”

Clark and Dean have differed in their accounts of a conversation they had last summer. Clark has said Dean offered him the position of running mate, but Dean has said he did not make the offer.

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