Monday, April 12, 2010

Politifact Declares Obama Promise On Taxes "Broken"

Politifact has designated one of President Obama's promises as broken, and conservatives are loving the news. The particular promise they rated comes from the campaign trail. A couple years ago, Obama had said the following:
I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.
So where is the broken promise? Politifact stated that they were willing to give this promise a "compromise" status for last year's cigarette tax, which as they explained, critics were upset because many people with incomes less then $250,000 smoke. The conservative media was all over this a year ago as they tirelessly pushed their claims that Obama had raised middle class taxes.

Now the newest claims of raised taxes comes from the health reform bill, with two particular parts standing out. One being the tax on indoor tanning services that takes effect this year and the other being the individual mandate for health care that will come in four years. According to the mandate, everyone will be required to purchase some form of insurance or pay a fine, to be collected through the person's income taxes, and because it is collected through the income taxes, it would be a rate hike.

I disagree with this opinion. First of all, I mentioned last year, the cigarette tax is not a tax on the middle class. If you viewed everything in those terms, then everything could be viewed as a tax increase on the middle class. What if a tariff was raised on a product middle class Americans purchase. That product's price then reflects the tariff when it hits the shelves. Critics can argue that the tariff negatively effects the middle class, equating a tax increase on that segment of the population.

In that same line of thought, the tanning tax is also not a tax on the middle class.

Secondly, the individual mandate would not be a tax on the middle class. I'm sure you can argue the semantics of whether the fine is a tax or not, or that because it is collected through the taxes, then it is a tax, but I would be under the impression that it is not a tax. You either buy insurance or you don't. There will even be tax credits offered to those who can't afford the mandate, and as Obama had argued before, which I think makes sense, if you choose not to purchase insurance and then require medical care, you are imposing a tax on your fellow Americans by making them pick up your tab.

I've already seen the claim on conservative websites that Obama has raised taxes on the middle class, citing Politfact's article. I expect to hear even more as the day progresses.

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