John Kartch

Senate Dems Reminded of Obama's "firm pledge" on Taxes


Posted by John Kartch on Tuesday, December 15th, 2009, 1:58 PM PERMALINK


The Senate healthcare bill contains at least six tax increases on Americans making less than $250,000 per year, putting the bill in direct violation of President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on these families. 

As the Senate approaches a vote today on an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to send the healthcare bill to the Finance Committee to strip out these tax hikes, Americans for Tax Reform reminds Senators of Obama’s repeated promise:

Sept. 12, 2008: Candidate Obama 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.” (Dover, NH) [Transcript] [Video clip]
 
Oct. 3, 2008: Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden said the following:
 
"No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised,"  Biden said, "whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax."
 
Feb. 4, 2009:  Speaking before a joint session of Congress, Obama said:
 
“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 15, 2009: When asked if Obama’s tax pledge applies “to the health care bill”, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replied:
 
“The statement didn’t come with caveats.”  (White House Briefing) [Transcript]
 
August 3, 2009: Gibbs reiterates Obama’s tax pledge:
 
“I am reiterating the President's clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.”[ Transcript]
 
December 15, 2009:   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.” 

Click here for a printable PDF of this document
 

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Senate Democrats Face Moment of Truth on Obama Tax Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, December 14th, 2009, 7:00 PM PERMALINK


The Senate will vote Tuesday on an amendment which would send the healthcare bill back to the Finance Committee to strip out its numerous tax hikes on families making less than $250,000 per year. The vote sets up a showdown for Senate Democrats as President Barack Obama has made a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on these families. The amendment was offered by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

“A vote in favor of this amendment would allow Obama to keep his tax pledge. Any Senator who votes against this amendment believes that Obama knowingly lied his way into office,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
 
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.” 
 
But the Senate healthcare bill is loaded with taxes that would break Obama’s pledge if signed into law:
 
Health Insurance Mandate Taxes on Working Families
 
Individual Mandate Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501/$8 bil): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the following schedule (capped at 8 percent of income):
 
 
Single
Single +1
Single +2<
2014
$95
$190
$285
2015
$350
$700
$1050
2016 etc.
$750
$1500
$2250
 
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/$28 bil): If an 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).
 
Small business owners pay their taxes on their owners’ personal tax returns. Since this provision does not exempt business owners making less than $250,000 per year, this employer mandate tax will violate President Obama’s promise in some cases.
 
Tax Hikes on Healthcare Spending Accounts
           
Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003/$5 bil): No longer allowable 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): 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.
 
FSA Cap (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14.6 bil): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).
     
Tax Hikes on Medical Spending for Those Making Less Than $250,000
 
Raise “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI (Page 2034/Sec. 9013/$15.2 bil): Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only
 
Tax on Cosmetic Medical Procedures (Page 2045/Sec. 9017/$5.8 bil): New 5% excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery to be paid by the surgery patient
 
**ATR will key vote in favor of cloture on the Crapo Amendment**
 
 

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Do Senate Democrats Not Care About Obama's Tax Pledge?


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, November 30th, 2009, 3:32 PM PERMALINK


As the Senate begins debate today on its healthcare bill, it is worth asking the following question: 

Do Senate Democrats care about Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year? 

Obama’s promise remains for all to see at the Change.gov websiteno family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.” 
 
But the Senate healthcare bill is loaded with taxes that would break Obama’s pledge if signed into law:
 
Health Insurance Mandate Taxes on Working Families
 
Individual Mandate Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501/$8 bil): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the following schedule (capped at 8 percent of income):
 
 
Single
Single +1
Single +2<
2014
$95
$190
$285
2015
$350
$700
$1050
2016 etc.
$750
$1500
$2250
 
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/$28 bil): If an 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).
 
Small business owners pay their taxes on their owners’ personal tax returns. Since this provision does not exempt business owners making less than $250,000 per year, this employer mandate tax will violate President Obama’s promise in some cases.
 
Tax Hikes on Healthcare Spending Accounts
           
Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003/$5 bil): No longer allowable 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): 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.
 
FSA Cap (Page 1999/Sec. 9005/$14.6 bil): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited).
     
Tax Hikes on Medical Spending for Those Making Less Than $250,000
 
Raise “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI (Page 2034/Sec. 9013/$15.2 bil): Waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only
 
Tax on Cosmetic Medical Procedures (Page 2045/Sec. 9017/$5.8 bil): New 5% excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery to be paid by the surgery patient

Click here for a printable PDF of this document

 

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ATR Breakdown of Senate Health Bill


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, November 19th, 2009, 11:40 AM PERMALINK


Full List of Tax Hikes in Senate Democrat Health Bill: H.R. 3590 

[Permalink]   [PDF]
 
Senate Healthcare Bill Breaks Obama’s $250,000 Tax Promise
 
[Permalink]   [PDF]
 
Senate Healthcare Bill Uses the Term “Tax” 183 Times
 
[Permalink]   [PDF]
 
 

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Senate Healthcare Bill Uses the Term "Tax" 183 Times


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009, 9:17 PM PERMALINK


A word search of Sen. Harry Reid’s 2,074-page Senate healthcare bill (H.R. 3590) reveals that the term “tax” is used 183 times, “taxable” is used 164 times, and “excise tax” is used 8 times.

Other terms of interest are as follows:
 
 
Senate Healthcare Bill (H.R. 3590)
Term
Number of uses
“Tax”
183 times
“Taxable”
164 times
“Excise tax”
8 times
“Taxes”
17 times
“Fee”
152 times
“Penalty”
115 times
“Require”
166 times
“Must” 
45 times
“Shall” 
3,607 times
 

Click here for a printable PDF version

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Obama Lied, His Tax Pledge Died


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 6th, 2009, 6:34 PM PERMALINK


By formally endorsing the House healthcare bill today, President Barack Obama effectively announced that the central promise of his 2008 campaign was a lie.  

During the campaign, Obama made a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families 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 (September 12, 2008, Dover, NH)
 
"No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised," Joe Biden said, "whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax."(Joe Biden, Oct. 3, 2008, Vice Presidential Debate, St. Louis, MO)
 
Further, on April 15, 2009, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if the President’s tax pledge applies “to the health care bill” to which Gibbs replied:  
 
“The statement didn’t come with caveats.” (White House Briefing) [Transcript]
 
Further, on August 3, 2009, Gibbs is once again asked about the President’s tax pledge, to which Gibbs replied:
 
“I am reiterating the President's clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.” (White House Briefing) [Transcript]
 
Yet today, Obama formally endorsed H.R. 3962, which is loaded with tax hikes on families making less than $250,000 per year. Here’s how:
 
Health Insurance Mandate Taxes on Working Families
 
·        Individual Mandate Excise Tax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest. There is no exception for families making less than $250,000.
 
·        Employer Mandate Payroll Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to the following schedule:
 
Payroll Tax Rate
Average Payroll Size
N/A
<$500,000
2%
$500,000-$585,000
4%
$585,000-$670,000
6%
$670,000-$750,000
8%
$750,00<
 
Small business owners pay their taxes on their owners’ personal tax returns. Since this provision does not exempt business owners making less than $250,000 per year, this employer mandate tax will violate President Obama’s promise in some cases.
 
Tax Hikes on Healthcare Spending Accounts
           
·        Cap on Flex-Spending Account (FSA) contributions at $2500 (Page 325): Currently, the contribution level is unlimited
 
·        Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Americans would no longer be able to purchase over-the-counter medicines with their FSA, Health Savings Account (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
 
·        Increase in the Non-Qualified HSA Distribution Penalty from 10% to 20% (Page 326): This makes HSAs less attractive, and paves the way for HSA pre-verification
 
There are 30 million Americans with FSAs. About 8 million Americans have an HSA. Virtually all of them make less than $250,000 per year. These are clear tax hikes on these families
 
      Making Legal Tax Deductions Not So Legal
 
·        Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related. 
 
There is no exception for families making less than $250,000 per year.
 
 

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Do House Democrats Not Care About Obama's Tax Pledge?


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 6th, 2009, 12:22 PM PERMALINK


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. Yet, the U.S. House of Representatives is getting ready to consider a government healthcare bill which does just that. Here’s how: 

Health Insurance Mandate Taxes on Working Families
 
·        Individual Mandate Excise Tax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest. There is no exception for families making less than $250,000.
 
·        Employer Mandate Payroll Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to the following schedule:
 
Payroll Tax Rate
Average Payroll Size
N/A
<$500,000
2%
$500,000-$585,000
4%
$585,000-$670,000
6%
$670,000-$750,000
8%
$750,00<
 
Small business owners pay their taxes on their owners’ personal tax returns. Since this provision does not exempt business owners making less than $250,000 per year, this employer mandate tax will violate President Obama’s promise in some cases.
 
Tax Hikes on Healthcare Spending Accounts
           
·        Cap on Flex-Spending Account (FSA) contributions at $2500 (Page 325): Currently, the contribution level is unlimited
 
·        Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Americans would no longer be able to purchase over-the-counter medicines with their FSA, Health Savings Account (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA)
 
·        Increase in the Non-Qualified HSA Distribution Penalty from 10% to 20% (Page 326): This makes HSAs less attractive, and paves the way for HSA pre-verification
 
There are 30 million Americans with FSAs. About 8 million Americans have an HSA. Virtually all of them make less than $250,000 per year. These are clear tax hikes on these families
     
      Making Legal Tax Deductions Not So Legal
 
·        Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related. 
 
There is no exception for families making less than $250,000 per year.
 
If President Obama is serious about his tax pledge, he should immediately renounce the bill.

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2.8 Million Jobs Lost Since "Stimulus" Signed Into Law


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 6th, 2009, 11:49 AM PERMALINK


The U.S. has lost at least 2.8 million jobs since President Barack Obama signed the “stimulus” package into law on Feb. 17. 

Monthly job losses reported by the BLS are as follows:

Mar:     652,000
Apr:      519,000
May:     303,000
June:   463,000
July:     304,000
Aug:     154,000 
Sept:    219,000 
Oct.      190,000
Total:  2,804,000

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been content to peddle contrived terms such as “jobs created and saved” and “job-years.”

ATR’s Center for Fiscal Accountability has been tracking the questionable jobs claims by the White House here, here, and here.

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Obama's $250,000 Tax Pledge Timeline


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, November 2nd, 2009, 4:48 PM PERMALINK


President Barack Obama’s central campaign promise was a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. Rather than immediately and unequivocally re-affirming the tax pledge during interviews, this timeline of statements by Obama and White House staff and advisors raises questions understandably troubling to taxpayers:  

The Promise -- 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]
 
April 1, 2009: After Obama broke his “firm pledge” when he signed 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: 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]
 
June 29, 2009:  Questioned about David Axelrod’s comments made the day before, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs refuses seven opportunities to affirm Obama’s tax pledge, saying only:
 
“We're going to let the process work its way through.  All right? [Transcript]
 
August 2, 2009 Appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner refuses to rule out a pledge-breaking tax hike after being given several opportunities to do so: 
 
“I think what the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes, we're going to do what's necessary.” [Transcript]
 
August 2, 2009: On NBC’s Meet the Press, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers also refuses to rule out a tax hike:
 
“It is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.” [Permalink]
 
August 3, 2009: Questioned about the previous day’s comments by Geithner and Summers, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterates Obama’s tax pledge:
 
“I am reiterating the President's clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he's not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.”[Transcript]
 
Sept. 20, 2009: On ABC’s This Week, hosted by George Stephanopoulos, Obama claims that the Baucus plan’s excise tax on the uninsured would not break his tax pledge, denying that it is in fact a tax, even after Stephanopoulos reads him the dictionary definition: 
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I don't think I'm making it up. Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Tax -- "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but...
OBAMA: ...what you're saying is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I'm taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we're going to have an individual mandate or not, but...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it's a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. [Transcript]
 
Nov. 1, 2009: On ABC’s This Week, hosted by George Stephanopoulos, White House Senior Counsel Valerie Jarrett refuses to unequivocally affirm Obama’s tax pledge:
 
STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you saying that the president will not sign this proposal if it does indeed raise taxes on the middle class?”
VALERIE JARRETT: “What I'm saying to you, George, is, let's let the process go forward…”
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he will not -- bottom line, he will not violate that commitment, is what you're saying?”
VALERIE JARRETT: What I'm saying is that he is confident that a bill that's going to be passed is going to be consistent with his parameters, yes.” [Transcript]
 
 

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Top Obama Advisor Refuses to Rule out Tax Hike on Working Families' Healthcare


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, November 2nd, 2009, 1:01 PM PERMALINK


Senior White House Counsel Valerie Jarrett on Sunday refused to rule out tax hikes which will raise the price of healthcare for 46 million working families.

Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Jarrett refused to rule out tax hikes on families making less than $250,000 per year:
 
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “So he will not -- bottom line, he will not violate that commitment, is what you're saying?”
VALERIE JARRETT: “What I'm saying is that he is confident that a bill that's going to be passed is going to be consistent with his parameters, yes.”
 
On Sept. 12, 2008, candidate Obama made the following promise to the American people:
 
“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.”
 
On Oct. 3, 2008, Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden said:
 
"No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised,"  Biden said, "whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax."
 
“President Obama and his paid spokesmen need to make clear to the American people whether they were lying during the campaign or if their campaign promises are, as Richard Nixon spokesman Ron Ziegler once said, ‘inoperative’,” responded Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
 
 

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