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John Kartch

White House economic advisor refuses to rule out a VAT


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, 3:05 PM PERMALINK


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White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee today left the door open to consideration of a value-added tax (VAT) if recommended by the White House deficit commission.
 
Coming a day after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs would only say a VAT is not currently being considered, Goolsbee repeatedly refused to permanently rule out VAT consideration.  The deficit commission is expected to report to the President later this year.
 
The exchange took place on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with Goolsbee refusing six consecutive opportunities to permanently close the door on a VAT: 
 
MARK HALPERIN: Will the President ever consider tax reform that will involve a VAT? Would he ever consider it?
 
(Refusal #1) GOOLSBEE: Look, we are not, the  report -- and I’m not sure where it came from cause it’s not anything I saw -- was that they were contemplating a VAT, that is not true. We have stood up this bipartisan fiscal commission, which as I understand it is considering a whole bunch of things.
 
              HALPERIN: But would he ever consider..
 
(Refusal #2) GOOLSBEE: He’s going to consider whatever comes out of that fiscal commission.
 
HALPERIN: So if they recommend a VAT, he would consider it?
 
(Refusal #3) GOOLSBEE: I’m not going to get into a linguistic game about it. 
 
HALPERIN: Well it’s not a linguistic game. 
 
(Refusal #4) GOOLSBEE: He’s looking to see what comes out of the fiscal commission. He’s going to look at it.
 
HALPERIN: We had a President for eight years who said ‘no new taxes, we’re not going to raise taxes’. This President said ‘no taxes on the middle class’. Arguably there are taxes in the healthcare bill that will hit the middle class. So again, a VAT would be a big change in America. Would he consider it, if the commission recommends it,  would he consider it?
 
(Refusal #5) GOOLSBEE: As you know, the President cut taxes for 95 percent of the workers in the stimulus. Many many billions of dollars. The President is committed to this bipartisan fiscal commission process and he’s going to seriously consider all the things that they put forward and he’s going to look at them. It doesn’t mean he’s supporting a VAT. We haven’t even contemplated a VAT.
 
HALPERIN: But if they recommend it, it’s not something he’d rule out?
 
(Refusal #6) GOOLSBEE: I’m not going to get into a hypothetical thing about it. He’s committed to a bipartisan fiscal commission. 
 
Goolsbee’s refusal to permanently rule out a VAT may explain President Obama’s recent attempts to alter the terms of his central campaign promise – a promise that no family making less than $250,000 per year would see “any form of tax increase”.
 
Twice in the past ten days, Obama has claimed his pledge applied only to income taxes. In his April 10 Weekly Radio Address, Obama said:
 
“And one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000.  That’s another promise we’ve kept.”
 
In a speech on the evening of April 15, Obama repeated the truncated promise:
 
“And one thing we haven’t done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year -- another promise that we kept.”

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NYT: Obama's economic team already calculating VAT revenue


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, April 19th, 2010, 4:53 AM PERMALINK


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President Barack Obama’s economic team is already calculating government revenues from a possible Value Added Tax (VAT), according to the New York Times.

Article excerpt:
 
But since any Social Security plan would probably preserve benefits for those nearing retirement, it would not help the administration achieve its goal of reducing the deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product, from 10 percent, within a decade.
 
One way to reach that 3 percent goal, by the calculations of Mr. Obama’s economic team: a 5 percent value-added tax, which would generate enough revenue to simultaneously permit the reduction in corporate tax rates Republicans favor.
 
The reported VAT calculations may explain President Obama’s recent attempts to alter the terms of his central campaign promise – a promise that no family making less than $250,000 per year would see “any form of tax increase”.
 
Twice in the past ten days, Obama has claimed his pledge applied only to income taxes. In his April 10 Weekly Radio Address, Obama said:
 
“And one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000.  That’s another promise we’ve kept.”
 
In a speech on the evening of April 15, Obama repeated the truncated promise:
 
“And one thing we haven’t done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year -- another promise that we kept.”
 
In the interest of transparency, Americans for Tax Reform respectfully asks President Obama to immediately release the reported VAT calculations or deny such calculations exist.
 

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Obama Attempts to Alter the Terms of his Broken Tax Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, April 15th, 2010, 2:19 PM PERMALINK


 
President Barack Obama is now attempting to alter the terms of his central campaign promise – a pledge that families making less than $250,000 per year will not see “any form of tax increase
 
Obama now claims his pledge only applied to income taxes, as evidenced by this excerpt from his most recent weekly radio address
 
“And one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000.  That’s another promise we’ve kept.”
 
Obama broke his “any form of tax increase” pledge when he signed the healthcare bill, which contained seven tax hikes that unquestionably hit some families making less than $250,000 per year.
 
This is not the first time the White House has attempted to dodge the “any form of tax increase” pledge.
 
On April 1, 2009, when Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press (“Promises, Promises: “Obama Tax Pledge Up in Smoke”) pointed out that Obama’s increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco violated the pledge, White House spokesman Reid H. Cherlin said: 
 
The president's position throughout the campaign was that he would not raise income or payroll taxes on families making less than $250,000, and that's a promise he has kept.”  [Permalink]
 
Compare that to Obama’s central campaign promise:
 
“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.” (Dover, NH) [Transcript] [Video]
 
Exactly one year ago, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if Obama’s pledge applies “to the health care bill”. Gibbs replied:
 
“The statement didn’t come with caveats.”  (White House Briefing) [Transcript]

 

The White House has some explaining to do.

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Moment of Truth for<br> Senate Dems on Obama Tax Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010, 4:12 PM PERMALINK


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A moment of truth has arrived for Senate Democrats as today they will decide whether or not healthcare reform will continue to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has offered an amendment to HR 4872 which would strip out from healthcare reform any and all tax increases on working families.
 
By signing the healthcare bill into law, President Obama has violated his “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year.
 
As Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out repeatedly, the healthcare bill signed into law contains seven tax hikes that unquestionably violate Obama’s middle class tax pledge.
 
Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has admitted that some Americans making less than $200,000 per year will face tax hikes under ObamaCare. During remarks last night on the Senate floor, Baucus said: 
 
“One other point that I think it’s very important to make is that it is true that in certain cases, the taxes will go up for some Americans who might be making less than $200,000.”
 
Obama’s promise remains for all to see at the Change.gov website: “no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.”
 
“This is the last best chance that Democrat Senators have to repeal Obamacare’s pledge-breaking tax hikes,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

 

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Baucus admits ObamaCare breaks Obama tax pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010, 8:59 PM PERMALINK


Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has admitted that some Americans making less than $200,000 per year will face tax hikes under ObamaCare. Such tax hikes are a violation of President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year.

During remarks tonight on the Senate floor, Baucus said: 
 
“One other point that I think it’s very important to make is that it is true that in certain cases, the taxes will go up for some Americans who might be making less than $200,000.”
 
As Americans for Tax Reform has pointed out repeatedly, the healthcare bill signed into law today contains seven tax hikes that unquestionably violate Obama’s middle class tax pledge.
 
Obama’s promise remains for all to see at the Change.gov website: “no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.” 
 
“Senator Baucus has formally admitted that Barack Obama’s central campaign promise was a lie,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. It would have been nice if Baucus had admitted that Obamacare raises taxes on families making less than $250,000 before the day Obama signed the bill into law.”

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Obama's "firm pledge" on Taxes is Anything But


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010, 10:22 AM PERMALINK


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President Barack Obama’s central campaign promise – a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year – is about to be shattered when Obama signs the healthcare bill into law. The bill contains seven tax hikes that unquestionably violate Obama’s pledge.

Obama’s promise remains for all to see at the Change.gov website: “no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.” 
Obama and his staff, however, are all over the map on his tax pledge, as this timeline shows:
 
Sept. 12, 2008: Obama makes a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year:
“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.” (Dover, NH) [Transcript] [Video clip]
February 24, 2009: In an address to a joint session of Congress, Obama restates the promise in forceful terms:
“If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.  I repeat: not one single dime.” [Transcript]
April 1, 2009: In a statement to the AP -- after Obama broke his pledge by signing into law a steep hike in the federal excise tax on tobacco -- White House spokesman Reid H. Cherlin attempts to claim that the Obama pledge only applies to “income or payroll taxes”:
The president's position throughout the campaign was that he would not raise income or payroll taxes on families making less than $250,000, and that's a promise he has kept.” (Associated Press interview) [Permalink]

April 15, 2009:   President Obama repeats his pledge:

“We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime.  And we have kept to those promises that were made during the campaign.” [Transcript]

April 15, 2009: During a White House press briefing, when challenged as to how Obama’s tax pledge squares with his tax hike on tobacco, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replies:

“People make a decision to smoke.” [Transcript]

April 15, 2009: Moments later, when asked if Obama’s tax pledge applies “to the health care bill”, Gibbs replies:

“The statement didn’t come with caveats.”  (White House Briefing) [Transcript]

June 28, 2009:  When challenged on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos as to whether Obama’s tax pledge applies to healthcare reform, White House Advisor David Axelrod refuses three times to affirm the pledge and replies:

“One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done.” [Transcript] [Video]

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Obama to Sign Massive Tax Hike on Working Families in Violation of His Campaign Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 3:35 PM PERMALINK


President Obama is about to break his central campaign promise: a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. The healthcare bill passed by the House and Senate contains seven taxes that unquestionably violate Obama’s pledge.

 
(Page numbers reference ORIGINAL REID-OBAMA BILL unless noted):

Individual Mandate Excise Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501/Jan 2014*): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following (page 71 of manager’s amendment updates Reid bill):
 
 
 
Single
2 People
3+ People
2014
$495/0.5% AGI
$990/0.5% AGI
$1485/0.5%/AGI
2015
$495/1.0% AGI
$990/1.0% AGI
$1485/1.0%/AGI
2016+
$495/2.0% AGI
$990/2.0% AGI
$1485/2.0%/AGI
 
Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS).
 
Employer Mandate Tax (Page 348/Sec. 1513/Jan 2014*):  Small business owners pay their business taxes on their personal 1040 forms.  This tax does not exempt startup small business owners even if they make less than $250,000. If the employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $750 for all full-time employees.  Applies to all employers with 50 or more employees.

If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer).
Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003/$5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans would no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Page 1998/Sec. 9004/$1.3 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Flexible Spending Account Cap – akaSpecial Needs Kids Tax” (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14 bil/Jan 2011): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).  Indexed to inflation after 2011 (added on page 363 of manager’s amendment). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. 

Medical Itemized Deductions Cap (Page 2034/Sec. 9013/$15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction if the total cost of the expenses reduces the filer’s income by 7.5%. The new provision would impose a threshold of 10%. This new tax will most adversely affect early retirees and the catastrophically ill. Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

Tax on Indoor Tanning Services (Page 373 of Manager’s amendment/$2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10% excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons
NONE OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS EXEMPTS FAMILIES MAKING LESS THAN $250,000
 
* CBO Estimates That the Mandate Tax Penalties Will Raise $39 billion from 2010-2019

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ObamaCare: By the Numbers


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, March 18th, 2010, 1:45 PM PERMALINK


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Americans for Tax Reform today released the following “By the Numbers” breakdown of ObamaCare:

The number of new tax increases in the healthcare bill: 19

The number of tax increases that unquestionably violate President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000:  7

The tax increase over the first decade if the healthcare bill becomes law: $497 billion

The top federal tax rate on wages and self-employment earnings under this bill: 43.4%

The annual tax hike for every man, woman, and child in America: $165

The top federal tax rate on early distributions from HSAs under this bill: 59.6%

The most parents of special-needs kids can save tax-free for tuition in FSAs (currently, the amount is unlimited): $2500

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Will Betsy Markey Hike Taxes on MicroPhage Workers in Longmont?


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 3:10 PM PERMALINK


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Will Congresswoman Betsy Markey Hike Taxes on MicroPhage Workers in Longmont?
 
 
New Obama healthcare plan endangers 7,969 Colorado jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. Buried in the latest government healthcare plan proposed by President Obama is a new tax on medical device manufacturers, who make everything from prosthetic limbs to pacemakers. The bill imposes a new tax of $2 billion per year (rising to $3 billion in 2017) on the industry. Congresswoman Betsy Markey will have a chance to vote on this bill later this year.
 
This new tax will particularly hit the MicroPhage facility in Longmont, Colorado. It employs 25 people—workers who may find themselves with a pink slip instead of a paycheck if this jobs-killing tax hike goes through.
 
“Washington politicians like to talk about jobs, but speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama want to raise taxes on the medical device industry that will kill jobs,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.  “Congresswoman Betsy Markey can talk all she wants.  Now she has a choice to vote with the Democrat leadership and kill jobs in Colorado or summon the courage to vote against the Democrat leadership and protect those jobs.”

Statewide, there are 7,969 employees working for the medical device industry. One out of every 280 workers in Colorado is employed in the medical device industry. The average medical device worker in Colorado earns $44,100, higher than the state average of $35,500. Statewide, there were $2,602,314 million in medical device sales in Colorado in the latest reporting year.
 
Congresswoman Betsy Markey VOTED AGAINST this same tax hike just last year. How will the Congresswoman vote this time?

 

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