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This legislation, commonly referred to as the Bayh-Dole Act after its two main sponsors, Senators Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Bob Dole, made dramatic changes to the way new technologies were brought to the marketplace. Prior to Bayh-Dole, the federal government licensed only a small percentage of patents that they owned. This provided no incentive for further research and in fact hindered future developments. Passage of the Bayh-Dole Act granted patent rights to the entity which developed it, which in many cases are federally supported colleges and universities. The act allowed non-profit entities to generate licensing revenue, while also serving to further stimulate U.S. technological innovation.
The Economic Recovery Tax Act, proposed by Representative Jack Kemp and Senator William Roth (R-DE), reduced marginal tax rates in the U.S. by 25 percent over three years and drastically cut taxes for wealthy Americans. One of the first pieces of major legislation handled by Dole as Senate Finance Committee chair, Dole supported this act with the understanding that it would need to be coupled with a decrease in government expenditures.
The hospice movement did not begin to make an impact in America until the late 1970s. Prior to then, few facilities existed to care for the terminally ill outside of hospitals and nursing homes. Senator Dole spoke at the first annual meeting of the National Hospice Organization in 1978 saying, “As the ranking Republican member of Senate Finance Committee, I assure you that the Finance Committee, which has within its jurisdiction the Medicare and Medicaid programs, will study and consider legislation in the 96th Congress that deals with the reimbursement of hospice services. For too long we have structured our reimbursement system so that people die in institutions with cold, ugly, green walls and little comfort.” Several years later, as Chairman of that committee, he introduced and saw passage of legislation that provided a hospice Medicare benefit.
“It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon to talk about taxes. Not that taxes are the most pleasant thing to discuss these days—lately every time I mention taxes I have a lurking fear that the next day I will be accused of having destroyed another industry or driven some company into bankruptcy.” – Senator Dole to the American Bar Association on May 15, 1982
The sweeping tax cuts of 1981 combined with failures to cut spending resulted in a massive budget shortfall that was further exacerbated by the recession of the early 1980s. To address this problem, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act rescinded some of the tax cuts from the year before in exchange for an agreement from Congress to control spending.
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 both tested the resolve of and solidified the reputation of Senator Dole as a true leader. At one point saying the bill was “hanging by a thread,” and facing road blocks at seemingly every turn, this legislation eventually went on to become one of the most historic changes to tax legislation in the history
of the country.
Under the act, the federal income tax system was simplified, creating two individual income tax rates. Millions of Americans saw significant drops in their taxes and more than 6 million were removed from the tax rolls all together. Corporate tax rates were lowered significantly, becoming the lowest rates in the industrialized world.
“I have never seen a finer demonstration of teamwork than I experienced with Senator Dole as we worked together shoulder to shoulder in bringing this vote to its conclusion.” – Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), May 27, 1988 The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was the first agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce the nuclear weapons arsenal of both countries. Republican leader, Senator Bob Dole, worked closely with his Democratic counterpart, Senator Robert Byrd, to ensure ratification of this historic treaty. The Christian Science Monitor, stressed the treaty’s importance in a May 3, 1988 editorial, “Consider the implications of a Democratically controlled Senate ratifying an arms control treaty proposed, signed and justified by Ronald Reagan … it will begin to redefine the bipartisan center in national security policy.”
“I want every drug pusher in America to remember this date, October 3, 1988, a day Congress started painting ‘Going Out of Business’ signs for drug pushers.” – Senator Dole, Oct. 8, 1988 Among the many important aspects of this bipartisan legislation, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 created the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. This office, overseen by a director known as the “Drug Czar,” is charged with the development of national anti-drug related priorities and strategy.
Senator Dole and Democratic Senator George Mitchell led the bipartisan “Group of 15,” who negotiated a compromise between conflicting opinions on smog, toxic chemicals and acid rain.
Senator Dole supported a Constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance the federal budget. A balanced budget requirement would force the government to end deficit spending and stop growing the national debt. Congress has debated this amendment several times previously, but at no point were they closer than they were in 1995.
The Republican takeover in Congress made many people, including Majority Leader Bob Dole, believe that the time for passing the balanced budget amendment had arrived. On March 2, 1995, the amendment reached the floor of the Senate having already achieved the two-thirds vote required in the House. Dole took the floor of the Senate immediately before the vote was taken:
“As everyone here knows, by passing this amendment, we are not changing the Constitution. The Founding Fathers did not give Congress that power. Instead, they reserved that power to the States and to the people. By passing this amendment, we are, in effect, authorizing a national debate on the merits of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Over the coming months and years, the pros and cons of the Balanced Budget Amendment will be debated in the legislatures of all 50 states. Citizens on both sides of the issue will become involved, and will express their opinions to their local state legislators.
There’s a word for that process. And that word is democracy.”
The amendment failed by one vote.
In the final weeks before Senator Dole retired from the Senate, he was a strong advocate for tax cuts, saying on June 4, 1996, “I believe we can cut taxes, reform the tax code and balance the budget.”
In the days to follow, Dole worked closely with his staff to create a plan to cut taxes while not risking any additions to the federal deficit. And in one of his last major acts in the Senate, he ensured the passage of a budget resolution that included a
large tax cut.
Welfare reform and tax cuts were at the center of the Republican Contract with America. Senator Dole played pivotal roles in both of these achievements.
In May of 1996, Dole outlined a new and ambitious welfare reform plan that reflected the beliefs of many Americans—that able-bodied people should find work and not remain on the welfare roles indefinitely.
Although President Clinton twice vetoed a welfare reform bill, the Senate again took up the cause and agreed to conference legislation entitled “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.” This final bill, which was signed into law on August 22, 1996, included many of the requirements of Dole’s plan, such as a requirement that welfare recipients find work within two years and placed a cap on the total number of years that a person may receive benefits.
The Line Item Veto Act of 1996, introduced by Senator Dole and co-sponsored by 29 other senators was intended to, according to President Clinton, “throw a spotlight of public scrutiny onto the darkest corners of the federal budget.” This act gave presidents the power to veto individual spending projects contained within appropriations bills, a desire that was near universal in the executive branch regardless of party affiliation.
Signed into law by President Clinton, the line item veto was used 84 times over the next three years before being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote in 1998.