House Democrats charged Tuesday that President Bush raised taxes 178 times during his four-year term compared with Republican allegations that Democratic nominee Bill Clinton increased taxes 128 times during his 12 years as governor of Arkansas.
The Democratic Study Group, which leveled the new charges, said they were based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service of revenue-raising measures of all kinds approved by Bush since taking office in 1989.
While scores of the "tax increases" listed in the study were tariff increases imposed in trade disputes, the study group's report said it used the same standards for Bush that Republicans used for Clinton. The GOP's count of Arkansas "taxes" included anything that produced additional revenue for the state--including extension of the dog-racing season.
"We don't embrace this method of counting tax increases but George Bush began it," said Rep. Bob Wise (D-W.Va.), chairman of the study group. "We are simply applying the same superficial analysis to his own record."
By the same standards, the study also said, there were 448 tax increases during the eight years that President Ronald Reagan was in office and Bush was his vice president.
Even while playing his part in the political numbers game, Wise acknowledged that all the figures are misleading. Most states raised taxes in the 1980s as the federal government reduced its assistance to them, Wise said, and Arkansas was no exception.
In accepting the GOP nomination for reelection last month, Bush posed a question: "Who do you trust in this election--the candidate who has raised taxes one time and regrets it, or the other candidate, who raised taxes and fees 128 times and enjoyed it every time?"