Lincoln Chafee on Budget & Economy

Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)


Widening disparity of wealth hurts the middle class

Q: There is a lot of enthusiasm out there for Elizabeth Warren because of her populist approach to economic issues. Do you consider yourself somebody who wants to fill that void since she's saying she's not running?

CHAFEE: Yes, absolutely. There's no doubt that Senator Warren's absolutely right about what's happening to the middle class and she's just been a prophet about this for a number of years. And that's what makes any community, whether it's a state or a city or a country or anywhere around the world strong: having a robust middle class. I have a great record of voting against the Bush tax cuts which widened that disparity of wealth, that hurt the middle class, led to the Great Recession. And so I'm proud of my record and would like to have Senator Warren's support and her legion of followers.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 12, 2015

100-Day, 10-Point Economic Plan for RI development

Source: 2010 gubernatorial campaign website, chafeeforgovernor.com , Nov 2, 2010

Reinstitute pay-as-you-go: match tax cuts & spending cuts

Q: Do tax cuts stimulate the economy?

WHITEHOUSE: The Bush administration tax cuts have run up our budget deficit to the highest levels ever. We now owe nearly a trillion dollars to the Chinese government, much of which went to finance tax cuts for the very richest Americans. If you are a middle-income Rhode Islander, and you got $1 of tax relief under the Bush tax cut, somebody making more than $200,000 got $111. That has not been good policy. We need to repeal the Bush tax cuts.

CHAFEE: Iím all for tax cuts as long as we can cut our spending. The difficulty has been that we cut the taxes but we donít cut our spending. Weíve had some tremendous unforeseen costs -- with 9/11, the war in Iraq & Afghanistan, and Katrina. I think we should prepare for those, and I donít believe tax cuts, as long as weíre not cutting our spending, is a wise course to take. During the 1990s, we had something called ďpay as you go.Ē We would not enact any spending programs that we couldnít pay for with revenue.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 (Xref Whitehouse) , Sep 13, 2006

Pork barrel accounts for 1% of the budget, and is requested

LAFFEY: I think of the $27 billion of pork barrel spending that goes on in this country every year and I think of how we could buy textbooks with it, how we could use the money for other more important purposes. Rhode Island does not benefit it because while $150 million of pork barrel projects coming back to Rhode Island in the next four for five years, we had to spend $223 million to get the bridge to nowhere up in Alaska for 50 people. Itís a wrong policy.

CHAFEE: $27 billion in a $2.5 trillion budget, thatís 1% of the budget. If youíre saying Iím going down to reform all our financial problems, itís in 1% of the budget. Every year I send a letter to every city and town, the town manager, the mayor, the president of the city council and ask how can I help you in your neighborhoods? They write back, I then submit those requests to the subcommittee. That goes to the Senate full committee, then to the House. It gets signed by the President. Then it becomes law. So itís a long process.

Source: 2006 R.I. Republican Senate Primary debate (x-ref Laffey) , Aug 24, 2006

Voted NO on $40B in reduced federal overall spending.

Vote to pass a bill that reduces federal spending by $40 billion over five years by decreasing the amount of funds spent on Medicaid, Medicare, agriculture, employee pensions, conservation, and student loans. The bill also provides a down-payment toward hurricane recovery and reconstruction costs.
Reference: Work, Marriage, and Family Promotion Reconciliation Act; Bill S. 1932 ; vote number 2005-363 on Dec 21, 2005

Voted NO on prioritizing national debt reduction below tax cuts.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would increase the amount of the budget that would be used to reduce the national debt by $75 billion over 5 year. The debt reduction would be offset by reducing the tax cut in the budget framework from $150 billion
Reference: Bill S Con Res 101 ; vote number 2000-55 on Apr 5, 2000

Maintain & enforce existing spending caps in the future.

Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

What we offer today are not the precise spending decisions of a given year's budget; rather, we call upon the Congress and the nation to adopt the following guidelines for our fiscal policy over the next decade. This long-term blueprint is essential for maintaining both the immediate public-sector goal of balancing the budget and the private-sector goal of a healthy economy. This can be achieved through the following steps:

Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP5 on Sep 9, 1998

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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016