Barack Obama on Tax Reform
Democratic Jr Senator (IL)
Under Bill Clinton, rich people didn't feel oppressed Q: Is McCain going to go after you as another classic liberal tax and spender?
A: Well, I'm going to go right back at McCain, because look at his tax proposals. He not only wants to continue some of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, he actually wants to extend them, and he hasn't told us really how he's going to pay for them. It is irresponsible. And the irony is he said it was irresponsible. When George Bush initiated these tax cuts in 2001, McCain said, "This is shameful." He said that it offended his conscience, he said, for us to give tax breaks to the wealthy, particularly at a time of war. If you look at my approach to taxation, what have I said? I said I would cut taxes for people making $75,000 a year or less. I'd cut taxes for seniors who are making $50,000 a year or less. It is true that I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed.
Source: Fox News Sunday: 2008 presidential race interview Apr 27, 2008
No tax increase if earning under $250K; tax cuts under $75K Q: Can you make an absolute, read-my-lips pledge that there will be no tax increases of any kind for anyone earning under $200,000 a year?
CLINTON: I will let the taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year go back to the rates that they were paying in the 1990s.
Q: Senator Obama, would you take the same pledge? No tax increases on people under $250,000?
OBAMA: I not only have pledged not to raise their taxes, I've been the first candidate in this race to specifically say I would cut their taxes. We are going to offset the payroll tax, the most regressive of our taxes, so that families who are middle-income individuals making $75,000 a year or less, that they would get a tax break so that families would see up to $1,000 worth of relief.
Q: You both have now just taken this pledge on people under $250,000 and $200,000.
OBAMA: Well, it depends on how you calculate it. But it would be between $200,000 and $250,000.
Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008
Raise capital gains tax for fairness, not for revenue Q: You favor an increase in the capital gains tax, saying, "I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, which was 28%." It's now 15%. That's almost a doubling if you went to 28%. Bill Clinton dropped the capital gains tax to 20%, then George Bush has taken it down to 15%. And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28%, the revenues went down.
A: What I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. The top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year--$29 billion for 50 individuals. Those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair.
Q: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.
A: Well, that might happen or it might not. It depends on what's happening on Wall Street and how business is going.
Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary Apr 16, 2008
Tax cut for seniors and those making $75,000 a year or less Everywhere you go, you meet people who are working harder for less, wages and incomes have flatlined, people are seeing escalating costs of everything from health care to gas at the pump. In some communities, they have been struggling for decades now. This has to be a priority of the next president. We have to restore a sense of fairness & balance to our economy. We've got to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas and invest those tax breaks in companies that are investing here in the US. We have to end the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy and to provide tax breaks to middle-class Americans and working Americans who need them. If you are making $75,000 a year or less, I want to give an offset to your payroll tax that will mean $1,000 extra in the pockets of ordinary Americans. Senior citizens making less than $50,000, you shouldn't have to pay income tax on your Social Security. We pay for these by closing tax loopholes and tax havens that are being manipulated.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008
I'm not bashful about it: wealthy will pay more taxes Q: If either one of you become president, and let the Bush tax cuts lapse, there will be effectively tax increases on millions of Americans.
OBAMA: On wealthy Americans.
CLINTON: That's right.
OBAMA: I'm not bashful about it.
OBAMA: I suspect a lot of this crowd--it looks like a pretty well-dressed crowd--potentially will pay a little bit more. I will pay a little bit more. But that investment will pay huge dividends over the long term, and the place where it will pay the biggest dividends is in Medicare and Medicaid. Because if we can get a healthier population, that is the only way over the long term that we can actually control that spending that is going to break the federal budget.
CLINTON: It's just really important to underscore here that we will go back to the tax rates we had before George Bush became president. And my memory is, people did really well during that time period. And they will keep doing really well.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday Jan 30, 2008
Stimulus package: $500 tax cut, & Social Security supplement Q: How much money would your stimulus plan put in the pockets of the average citizen?
A: It is absolutely critical right now to give a stimulus to the economy. We've got to get tax cuts into the pockets of hard-working Americans right away. And it is important for us to make sure that they are not just going to the wealthy. They should be going to folks who are making $75,000 a year or less, and they should be going to folks who only pay payroll tax, but typically are not paying income tax.
Q: Do you agree with Sen. Clinton that $650 is a good number for a tax rebate?
A: Well, I think that we are going to have to get some immediate money. What I say is, $500 for a tax rebate per typical family. But also, for senior citizens, a supplement to their Social Security check, because they get that every month. That would provide seniors all across the country right away some money to help pay for their heating bills and other expenses that they've got right now.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008
Restore progressive tax; close loopholes; relief to seniors There has to be a restoration of balance in our tax code. We are going to offset some of the payroll taxes that families who are making less than $50,000 a year get a larger break. I want to make sure that seniors making less than $50,000, that they get some relief in terms of the taxes on their Social Security. Those kinds of progressive tax steps, while closing loopholes and rolling back the Bush tax cuts to the top 1 percent, simply restores some fairness and a sense that we're all in this together.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007
Trillion dollar giveaway: the Paris Hilton Tax Break Obama said, "Domestically, our national debt and budget constrain us in ways that are going to be very far-reaching. And I think whoever is elected in 2008 is going to be cleaning up the fiscal mess that was created as a consequence of the president's tax cuts." Obama opposed repealing the estate tax: "Let's call this trillion dollar giveaway what it is--the Paris Hilton Tax Break. It's about giving billions of dollars to billionaire heirs and heiresses as a time when American taxpayers just can't afford it." Obama has proposed to "reverse some of those tax cuts that went to the wealthiest Americans." As Obama put it, "It's not as if rich people were suffering under Bill Clinton."
Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.155 Oct 30, 2007
Reduce Bush tax cuts to pay for health care & other programs Q: Do you agree that the rich aren't paying their fair share of taxes?
A: There's no doubt that the tax system has been skewed. And the Bush tax cuts--people didn't need them, and they weren't even asking for them, and that's why they need to be less, so that we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives.
But I think this goes to a broader question, and that is, are we willing to make the investments in genuine equal opportunity in this country? People aren't looking for charity. We talk about welfare and we talk about poverty, but what people really want is fairness. They want people paying their fair share of taxes. They want that money allocated fairly.
One of the distressing things about Katrina was the fact that we have not made systematic investments. And the only way we're going to make it is by making sure that those of us who are fortunate enough to have the money actually make a contribution.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007
Estate tax only affects the wealthiest 1/2 of 1% We have to stop pretending that all cuts are equivalent or that all tax increases are the same. Ending corporate subsidies is one thing; reducing health-care benefits to poor children is something else. At a time when ordinary families are feeling hit from all sides, the impulse to keep their taxes as low as possible is honorable. What is less honorable is the willingness of the rich to ride this anti-tax sentiment for their own purposes.
Nowhere has this confusion been more evident than in the debate surrounding the proposed repeal of the estate tax. As currently structured, a husband and wife can pass on $4 million without paying any estate tax. In 2009, this figure goes up to $7 million. The tax thus affects only the wealthiest one-third of 1% in 2009. Repealing the estate tax would cost $1 trillion, and it would be hard to find a tax cut that was less responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans or the long-term interests of the country.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.191-192 Oct 1, 2006
Specific tax relief for families making $75,000 or less now I have proposed specific tax relief now, immediately, so that we would offset some of the payroll tax, that we would immediately put some additional dollars in the pockets of American families, making $75,000 a year or less, to not only stimulate the economy, but also to balance out a tax code. I would pay for it specifically by closing tax loopholes & tax havens. What we've had is a top-down agenda that is skewed toward the wealthiest Americans. It is making worse some of the trends of globalization
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006
Bush tax cuts help corporations but not middle class Middle class families are getting squeezed. The new jobs being created in Illinois pay an average of $15,000 less than the jobs that we've lost - and fewer offer real benefits. Health insurance premiums and the cost of a college education have skyrocketed since the beginning of the Bush Administration. In the past three years, corporate profits have increased more than 60%. Workers are being paid just 3% more.
It wouldn't be fair or accurate to blame all of this on the Bush Administration. It is fair, however, to say that they haven't done much to help. The tax cuts they've offered have barely made a dent in reducing the burden on middle class families, while driving our nation trillions of dollars deeper into debt. They continue to support tax breaks for corporations who export jobs overseas, and have refused to enforce provisions within existing trade agreements against countries who engage in unfair trade practices.
Source: Press Release, "Middle Class Being Squeezed" Jun 26, 2004
Tax incentives to create jobs at home instead of offshore Obama today said companies creating jobs in America should be rewarded with tax cuts rather than giving tax incentives to companies that move jobs offshore. "Right now, we have a tax code that gives incentives for companies to move offshore. Instead, we must have a tax code that rewards companies that are doing the right thing by investing in American workers and investing in research and development here in the United States," said Obama. "Our government has to be looking out for these people who are working hard everyday trying to make ends meet and right now we've got a set of policies that are not reflective of that." Obama's plan to create quality jobs in Illinois will:
- Close loopholes that encourage companies to move jobs abroad.
- Reward companies that create quality jobs in America.