Does Sen. Biden Think Patriotism Is Linked to Taxation?

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 18, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Be patriotic, pay more taxes?

Well, if you are rich and love your country, maybe you should empty your wallet. That is essentially what Joe Biden appears to be saying today. And it has got a lot taxpayers fired up today. And Sarah Palin firing back today.


KATE SNOW, ABC NEWS: Anybody making over $250,000...


SNOW: ... is going to pay more.

BIDEN: You got it. It's time to be patriotic, Kate, time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.

GOV. SARAH PALIN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: To them, raising taxes — and Joe Biden said it again today — raising taxes is about patriotism.


PALIN: To the rest of America, that is not patriotism. Raising taxes is about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse.



CAVUTO: OK, so who is right on this ongoing debate?

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With us now, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, an Obama/Biden surrogate.

What do think, Congressman, that — the idea being that it's patriotic to pay more taxes?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: Look, as Barack Obama himself has said, and as we all know, nobody likes to pay taxes. But I would ask Governor Palin a simple question; How do think we're providing equipment to our troops in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan? How do you think we're supporting the wounded veterans who are coming home at places like Walter Reed and other military hospitals? How are we supporting our troops in Afghanistan?

I thought it was patriotic for all of us to be supporting the troops in the field and providing them with the resources...


CAVUTO: So, they're not patriotic now, paying what they're paying?

VAN HOLLEN: No, that's not — what Joe Biden has said is that we are all making sacrifices. We're asking the men and women in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan to put their lives at risk. All he saying was, it is part of our responsibility to provide the resources.

The bigger question here is, how are we going to distribute the burden?

And what Barack Obama has said is that middle America should finally get a break here. And he's put forward a plan that would provide the biggest tax relief to middle America in 50 years. All independent analysts who have looked at this have said that American families in the middle income are going to get...

CAVUTO: All right. With all respect, sir, it sounds like you're trying to put lipstick on a pig here.


CAVUTO: You're equating a dollar value to patriotism, that, the more you pay, the more patriotic you are. I don't think I have heard anything so idiotic in my life.

VAN HOLLEN: That's absurd. And you're trying to put words in people's mouths.

Look, Neil, you do — you do this a lot. But the fact of the matter is...

CAVUTO: No, no, no. Congressman, I don't do it a lot.

VAN HOLLEN: No. Well, you do.

CAVUTO: No, let me ask you, are you...

VAN HOLLEN: That's not what I said.

CAVUTO: Then let me ask you, do you equate...

VAN HOLLEN: I didn't say that you're more patriotic based on more...


CAVUTO: Are you saying that the rich, or the well-to-do, or those with more financial resources, right now, paying, with all their taxes, 50 percent or more to various governments, aren't patriotic because they aren't paying more, and they should pay more?

VAN HOLLEN: I — I didn't say anything of the sort.

CAVUTO: So, explain. Explain what you are...

VAN HOLLEN: I didn't say — what I said was that everybody needs to be part of this effort. Everyone needs to pay their share.

John McCain himself, before he started saying and doing anything to get elected, himself said, when he opposed the Bush tax cuts, that you shouldn't have these tax cuts at the same time you have got a war going on.

That's what John McCain said when he was part of the Straight Talk Express. Now that he's in the mode where he's saying and doing anything, he's switching his position. But nobody said you're not patriotic if you're not paying more taxes.

CAVUTO: OK, so — all right.

VAN HOLLEN: And it's not — and it's not fair for people to pretend...


CAVUTO: That, I understand. All right, Congressman, then I understand your explanation.

So, let me ask you this. Paying what you're paying now, the rich paying what they're paying now — and some of them, I guess, would quibble with being called rich — how would you describe them?

VAN HOLLEN: How would I describe who?

CAVUTO: The ones who are paying the top rate right now.

VAN HOLLEN: I would describe everybody as patriotic Americans.

The question isn't judging whether someone is patriotic or not by how much taxes they're paying. The question is, as a nation, how are we going to make sure we come up with the resources to support our troops in the field, to make sure we care for them when they come back, and how should we distribute that burden and that sacrifice?

And what Barack Obama has said is that it's not fair to have the middle-income Americans having to carry all the weight on that, that we should ask more of people who are making a lot more.

CAVUTO: Do you think, intrinsic...

VAN HOLLEN: That is what he has said.

CAVUTO: I understand. But do you think, intrinsic in this, is a little bit of guilt for the well-to-do, that, look, you know, if you paid more, maybe you wouldn't feel as guilty?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't think...


VAN HOLLEN: I don't think that that's what Barack Obama has said at all. He — he — what he has said is, as a nation, let's figure out how we're going to pay for the challenges we have got before us.


VAN HOLLEN: We're fighting a war on terror. We have debt going through the roof. And we have a tax system, and we have to figure out how we distribute the burdens, without passing on these huge bills to future generations.

And what he said is...

CAVUTO: All right.

VAN HOLLEN: ... you look at that equation. We should simply ask those folks who got a big break under George Bush's first plan to pay a little bit more, so that 95 percent of the American taxpayers can pay less.

CAVUTO: But again, just to be clear, Congressman, you don't think that patriotism is defined by how much you pay in taxes, right?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't, and I don't think that's what Joe Biden meant, either.


Well, man, oh, man, well, I don't know if we were listening to the same interview, my friend.


CAVUTO: But, Congressmen, thank you very, very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.


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