Running on Tax Hikes: Presidential Candidate Releasing Fiscal Plan

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

( - Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who's running for president, is releasing his economic plan Thursday, and critics say it's heavy on tax hikes -- something that appeals to left-wing, "soak the rich" Democrats, in the words of a taxpayer watchdog group.

Americans for Tax Reform said Graham wants to hike marginal tax rates 10 percent or more; create a new 40-percent tax bracket on incomes above $1 million; restore the estate tax; and repeal the Bush tax cut on capital gains and dividends.

"It used to be just Ted Kennedy who was coming up with cockamamie schemes to jack up taxes," said the ATR's Grover Norquist. "Now the so-called 'moderate' presidential candidates are following their most extreme left-wing colleagues."

In a press release, Norquist called it "a bizarre return to Walter Mondale," the Democrat who called for tax increases - then resoundingly lost the 1984 presidential election.

The American Shareholders Association also condemned Graham's economic plan, calling it a "stunning development."

"Tax and spend policy proposals are alive and well in the Democratic Party and those proposals do not sit well with the new investor class majority in America," said ASA Executive Director Daniel Clifton in a press release.

According to the American Shareholders Association, President Bush's tax cut is changing corporate behavior, re-empowering shareholders, and boosting economic growth.

Since the tax cut on capital gains and dividends was enacted on May 28th , at least 175 companies have increased their dividend payouts or have started issuing dividends for the first time, ASA noted.

The group said dividend payment increases are running about 20 percent above 2002 levels, and the stock market is rebounding - leading the U.S. economic recovery.

"Why would any presidential candidate want to reverse the recent stock market gains, slow the economic recovery and take a position that is vehemently opposed by 70 percent of Americans?" the ASA's Clifton wondered.

Wire reports said Graham will distribute a 50-page booklet detailing his tax-and-spend plan on Thursday during a stop in Concord, N.H.

Most of the other Democratic presidential candidate also say they would repeal some, most or all of President Bush's tax cuts.