Steve G.

Project Vote Smart

In Barack Obama, Christine Smith, Congress, Democrats, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Republican on February 14, 2008 at 8:02 am

Project Vote SmartI just ran across a website called “Project Vote Smart“. This site gathers information from various candidates for office, so you can view it all in one place, and even very easily compare the candidates if you open them up in side-by-side tabs on your browser.

It is very interesting to see the “political courage test”, which pins the candidates down on the issues. Unfortunately, it appears that most mainstream candidates (including all of the presidential frontrunners from both major parties, and including Ron Paul) have refused to complete the quiz portion. However, Barack Obama did complete the questionnaire when he was running for the Senate, which gives a good insight into how he views the issues; while Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul both refused to complete it even when they were running for Congress. There is no older questionnaire information for any of the other frontrunners.

I think it’s obvious why candidates wouldn’t want to complete it, since it can later easily be used against them. Accordingly, I think any candidate which refuses to answer those questions should be viewed with suspicion.

Some third party presidential candidates did complete the “courage test” though, including libertarians. I was quite surprised to see that I disagree with some libertarian candidates on a few issues I thought we’d agree upon. For example, I was extremely surprised to see that neither Phillies nor Kubby have chosen to eliminate inheritance taxes (Phillies wants to slightly decrease them, while Kubby wants to greatly decrease them). Yet why should the government get any of it, since it’s a gift from one person to another? Christine Smith is the only libertarian candidate to propose eliminating that tax.

On the other hand, Kubby wants to greatly decrease gasoline taxes and certain “sin” taxes (alcohol, cigarettes, etc) while Phillies and Smith want to eliminate those taxes altogether. On those tax issues, I agree with Phillies. I would agree with Smith, but she wants to eliminate ALL federal taxes (including income taxes); and while that’s an idea I’d love to get behind, I don’t think it is realistic, at least not at this time.

I will have to study the candidates’ responses a lot more closely, and I strongly suggest others do the same. While it won’t help much with regard to mainstream candidates who have refused to answer the questionnaire (and personally, I hold that against them because it is to my mind proof that they plan to say one thing to get elected, and do another once they are in office), it does give quite a bit of insight into third party presidential candidates.

Originally posted on Adventures in Frickintardistan

UPDATE:  I received the following comment from Tom Knapp, Steve Kubby’s Communications Director:

I worked with Steve on filling out the Political Courage Test, and “eliminate” was not offered as an option on the document we got from VoteSmart. I sent them an email when I saw that it appeared on other candidates’ answers, but haven’t ever heard back from them.

Without going over the PCT line by line, I can’t say offhand that EVERY “greatly decrease” would actually have been “eliminate” had that option been visible, the inheritance tax would absolutely have been an “eliminate” item.

Thanks for that info, Tom!

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  3. ElfNinosMom,

    You write:

    “I was extremely surprised to see that neither Phillies nor Kubby have chosen to eliminate inheritance taxes (Phillies wants to slightly decrease them, while Kubby wants to greatly decrease them”

    I worked with Steve on filling out the Political Courage Test, and “eliminate” was not offered as an option on the document we got from VoteSmart. I sent them an email when I saw that it appeared on other candidates’ answers, but haven’t ever heard back from them.

    Without going over the PCT line by line, I can’t say offhand that EVERY “greatly decrease” would actually have been “eliminate” had that option been visible, the inheritance tax would absolutely have been an “eliminate” item.

  4. Thanks much for the insight, Tom. I guess you can understand why I was surprised. 🙂

    Since I am still undecided, may I assume that he would have eliminated that tax, had the option been available? Is there anyplace where I can see specifically what taxes he would or would not eliminate?

    In the meantime, I will add your comment to the main entry as an update, so everyone will have the benefit of that information (since many blog readers don’t read comments).

  5. ElfNinosMom,

    Steve is on the road right now (attending the LSLA conference in Vegas), so I’d prefer to re-check with him instead of just guessing on things, but to my certain recollection the inheritance tax was definitely an item that would have been checked “eliminate” if we had seen that option. As a matter of fact, he answered “yes” to the related question “Do you support the permanent repeal of the federal estate tax?” “Eliminate” was also his preferred response to all income levels on the income tax questions, and capital gains.

    As for the rest, I know we had a discussion as to whether as a prospective president he should go for “eliminating” or just “greatly reducing” constitutionally permissible tariffs and excises, but I don’t remember how the outcome of that discussion expressed on the PCT, and my copy of it (if I kept one) is on my old, no-longer-used, computer.

    I suspect the missing “eliminate” (and possibly other missing things for all I know) had to do with file formatting — the thing looked pretty weird. I believe it was a Microsoft Word doc. Kubby runs a Mac (for which MS Word is available, but I don’t know if he uses it), and I was running a Linux box with OpenOffice, so it may have had to do with how tables are formatted in Windows Word versus Mac Word versus OpenOffice, and possibly across versions. I have a Windoze box with Word on it now, but I didn’t then.

  6. My last message seems not to have transmitted.

    Almost everyone, though not quite, will pay 0% inheritance tax. It is challenging to reduce that number, so it is difficult to reduce the inheritance tax paid by a median estate at all.

  7. Hiya, Dr. P. My concern with the inheritance tax is that I’m one of those people who were penalized by virtue of inheriting a large estate, will be penalized again for the same thing within a few years, and my significant other is in the same position. The inheritance tax is nothing more or less than a way for the government to extort money from the dead, as if they didn’t squeeze every cent they could get while those people were alive.

    I don’t want it reduced, either slightly or greatly. I want it gone completely, because I do not think the government has any business whatsoever taxing estates.

    I also want property taxes gone, because I’m paying tens of thousands every year for property I own free and clear, and if I don’t pay it, the government will take my property by force, and sell it out from under me for far less than 1% of its value. I realize that’s a state/county issue, but I’d like to hear your input on it.

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