John Kartch

Peter Orszag: Obama's "firm pledge" on taxes is just a "preference" or "stance"


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, May 14th, 2010, 1:57 PM PERMALINK


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On April 27, President Obama issued a warning to anyone thinking about asking him about his “firm pledge” not to raise any form of taxes on those making less than $250,000:  if you ask about his pledge, you are playing “an old Washington game”.

Facing questions about Obama’s “firm pledge” on Wednesday, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag followed the example of his boss by characterizing questions about tax hikes on the middle class as a “game” and described Obama’s tax pledge as merely a “preference” or a “stance”.

Compare Obama’s original promise to Orszag’s comments:

“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.”– Candidate Barack Obama [Transcript] [Video]

“The president has been very clear about what he prefers.  That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward. But he has also been very clear that we shall let the commission go do its work.” – Peter Orszag

Last year, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the pledge “didn’t come with caveats.” 

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President of the United States uses the term "Tea-baggers"


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 12:24 PM PERMALINK


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President Barack Obama, known for his lectures to others on civility, saw fit to use the obscene and derogatory term “tea-baggers” in a book interview with author Jonathan Alter.

Below is an excerpt from Alter’s new book The Promise: President Obama, Year One, to be released May 18:

Obama said that the unanimous House vote against the Recovery Act ‘set the tenor for the whole year’: ‘That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.’  For Obama this was the greatest surprise of 2009.

“It is insulting to have him lecture on civility while being the least civil participant,”said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.  “Obama, get out of the gutter, wash your mouth out with soap and grow up.  Obama is acting like a teenager -- trying to be funny by using foul language and sexual innuendo.  Pre-teens think that is funny.  Adults do not.”

The revelation of Obama’s use of the term “tea-baggers” comes within a few days of his oft-cited May 1 commencement speech at the University of Michigan.

Obama bemoans name-calling…

“We've got politicians calling each other all sorts of unflattering names.”

…but what name does he use?

            “Tea-baggers”

Obama calls for basic civility…

“Now, the second way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate.”

…but is the use of this term civil?

            “Tea-baggers”

Obama laments the demonizing of political opponents…

“We can't expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down.  You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it.”

…but has no problem doing it himself:

            “Tea-baggers”

Obama reminds others of the Golden Rule…

“So what do we do? As I found out after a year in the White House, changing this type of politics is not easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: Treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect.”

…but his version of civility:

            “Tea-baggers”

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Obama: Asking About My Tax Pledge is a "Washington Game"


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010, 11:25 AM PERMALINK


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Consider yourself warned:  Americans should not ask President Obama about his “firm pledge” not to raise any form of taxes on families making less than $250,000.  Anyone asking such a question is just playing a “Washington game”. 

So says President Obama, anyway.  In his remarks introducing the debt commission today, Obama said the following:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It’s important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way.  Everything has to be on the table.  And I just met briefly with the commission and said the same thing to them.  Of course this means that all of you, our friends in the media, will ask me and others once a week, or once a day, about what we are willing to rule out or rule in when it comes to the recommendations of the commission.  That’s an old Washington game…so I wanted to deliver this message today: we’re not playing that game.  I’m not gonna say what’s in, I’m not gonna say what’s out.

Obama’s “everything has to be on the table” mantra directly contradicts his central campaign promise that no family making less than $250,000 will see any form of tax increase. 

Obama’s refusal today to rule out tax hikes on families making less than $250,000 per year may explainhis recent attempts to alter the terms of his central campaign promise.  Twice this month, Obama has claimed his middle class tax pledge only applied to “income taxes” rather than “any form of 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.”

The two recent statements stand in stark contrast to Obama’s original 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]

Last year, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the pledge “didn’t come with caveats.”

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Obama to debt commission: Feel free to break my tax pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, April 26th, 2010, 12:59 PM PERMALINK


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During his campaign, President Obama made a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year.  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said the pledge “didn’t come with caveats.”  

Yet President Obama told the leaders of his debt commission that “everything is on the table”.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, debt commission co-chairman Erskine Bowles had the following exchange with host Chris Wallace:

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR:  Mr. Bowles, Barack Obama — I don't have to tell you — campaigned in 2008 for president on a flat pledge that he would not raise any taxes — not income taxes, not any taxes — on people making less than $250,000 a year. Do you feel bound by the president's pledge?

ERSKINE BOWLES, DEBT COMMISSION CO-CHAIRMAN:What I feel bound by is the president looked Senator Simpson and me in the eye and he said, everything is on the table.

Bowles also refused to rule out a Value-Added Tax.  The Bowles statements may explain Obama’s recent attempts to alter the terms of his central campaign promise.  Twice this month, Obama has claimed his middle class tax pledge only applied to “income taxes” rather than “any form of 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.”

The two recent statements stand in stark contrast to Obama’s original 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]
 

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President on taxes: I had hoped to invest in your future..without asking more of you..but I can't


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010, 4:41 PM PERMALINK


“I had hoped to invest in your future by creating jobs, expanding education, reforming healthcare and reducing the debt without asking more of you. And I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to meet that goal. But I can’t, because the deficit has increased so much, beyond my earlier estimates and beyond even the worst official government estimates from last year.”

-- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 15, 1993 [Video clip]
  
“I believe that we should be able to make sure that we don’t burden middle class families further. Having said that, I am also going to wait for the fiscal commission to provide me what their best recommendations are.”
                
-- President Barack Obama, April 21, 2010 [Video clip

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Obama floats a VAT: <br> Admission explains attempt to alter tax pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 8:07 PM PERMALINK


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President Obama made it official today : He is open to the imposition of a Value-Added Tax (VAT) on the American people. A VAT would violate Obama’s central campaign promise – a “firm pledge” that no family making less than $250,000 per year would see “any form of tax increase”.
 

Obama’s admission came during an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood. Asked if he could see the potential for a VAT, the President said:
 
"I know that there's been a lot of talk around town lately about the value-added tax. That is something that has worked for some countries. It's something that would be novel for the United States. And before, you know, I start saying 'this makes sense or that makes sense,' I want to get a better picture of what our options are.”

Obama’s VAT admission may explain his recent attempts to alter the terms of his central campaign promise. Twice in the past two weeks, Obama has claimed his middle class tax pledge only applied to income taxes rather than “any form of 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.”
 
The two recent statements stand in stark contrast to Obama’s original 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]
 
The Obama VAT admission also comes the day after White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee refused six consecutive opportunities to permanently close the door on a VAT and two days after White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said a VAT “is not something the President has proposed nor is it under consideration.”

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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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