Taxes

If It Looks Like a Duck, It's Probably Obama Talking About Taxes

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Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) catches President Obama tweaking his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on households earning less than $250,000 a year so that it conforms to his actions after taking office. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Obama said:

One thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000. That's another promise we've kept.

Except that wasn't the promise he made. Here is what he said on September 12, 2008, in Dover, New Hampshire (emphasis added):

I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase—not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

Not a lot of wiggle room there. Obama broke this promise barely two weeks into his presidency by signing a bill that included a 156-percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, which not only hits the nonwealthy but is one of the most regressive taxes around. By ATR's count, the health care bill Obama signed last month includes another seven tax hikes that affect the under-$250,000-a-year crowd. In fact, since four of these changes will increase people's income tax bills, they violate even the edited version of Obama's pledge that he presented on Saturday. For example, as Peter Suderman noted last week, the law raises the threshold for deducting medical expenses from 7.5 percent of income to 10 percent. As a result, people with substantial medical expenses will pay more income tax. But as I noted in a column last November, "When the president does it, it's not a tax."