(Host) Some clear differences are emerging between the candidates in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Greg Parke and Richard Tarrant disagree about a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and a bill to completely eliminate the federal estate tax.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Senate Republican leaders in Washington tried to bring both of these issues up for a vote last week but on both occasions they lacked the votes to have the bills considered on the floor. Greg Parke says he supports a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage as a way to rein in state judges who are overturning marriage laws:
(Parke) “Right now you have government imposing its will on society and these are unelected judges this constitutional amendment is democracy in action.”
(Kinzel) Richard Tarrant says he believes that marriage is a union between a man and a woman but he says it’s wrong to use the Constitution to address this issue:
(Tarrant) “This clearly is one special interest against another special interest and I think the Constitution is clearly not the place for that so I don’t think it should have veer been introduced.”
(Kinzel) Parke also supports a complete elimination of the federal estate tax. Currently the first two million dollars of an estate is exempt from the tax. This exemption rises to $3.5 million in 2009. It reverts to one million in 2011.
(Parke) “I just think there is something fundamentally wrong that just because you die the government has a right to take half of what you have built up for your family. That just irks me.”
(Kinzel) Tarrant says he’d support efforts to raise the exemption but he opposes a total elimination of the estate tax.
(Tarrant) “Five, ten million dollars or maybe it varies depending upon the worth of the business because that gets complex. But thereafter I don’t have a problem with the estate tax and personally for what it’s worth I don’t believe you should leave kids tons of money. I don’t think it helps them at all.”
(Kinzel) President Bush strongly urged the Senate to pass both measures. Will Tarrant’s opposition to the President hurt him in the Republican primary? Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis doesn’t think so.
(Davis) “One of the things he’s clearly been trying to do over the last few weeks is put some distance between himself and positions of the Bush Administration particularly on some issues having to do with taxing and spending the size of the federal budget deficit and related matters. He’s trying to show Vermont voters that first he cares about the budget deficit and second he’s not going to be down the line with the Republican leadership on every vote in the U.S. Senate.”
(Kinzel) The winner of the GOP primary will face Independent candidate Bernie Sanders in the general election.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.