John Kartch

Obama's Line in the Sand: Small Business Tax Hikes or Nothing


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 9th, 2012, 1:57 PM PERMALINK


The Obama plan will raise taxes on a majority of small business profits and hit those companies which employ a majority of Americans who work for small businesses.

Here’s how:

Unlike corporations, small businesses usually don’t pay their own taxes. Rather, business profits flow through to the business owner. The business owner pays taxes on her small business by adding the profits to her income tax form. Therefore, personal income taxes are the same thing as small business taxes.

The Obama plan to raise the top two marginal income tax rates (from 33 and 35 percent today to 36 and 39.6 percent, respectively) is a hike in America’s small business tax rate.  This does not include Obamacare’s 3.8 percent small business surtax.

According to the IRS, most small business profits face taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year. The IRS keeps track of two types of small business income: sole proprietors, and “pass-through” entities like partnerships and S-corporations.

A majority of small business profits will face a tax rate hike under the Obama-Biden plan.  There are 30 million tax returns reporting small business income. On net (profits reduced by losses), these owners report business profits of $590 billion.  A large chunk of this net profit--$477 billion—faced taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year. 

Sole proprietors: There are 22 million tax returns reporting sole proprietor income. On net (profits reduced by losses), these owners report business profits of $245 billion. A large chunk of this net profit--$80 billion—face taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year. 37 percent of sole proprietor profits will face a tax rate hike under the Obama plan.

S-corporations and partnerships: There are 8 million partners and S-corporation shareholders. On net (profits reduced by losses), these owners reported business profits of $345 billion. Virtually all of this profit faced taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year. Aggregate pass-through entity profits will almost entirely fall in households making more than $200,000 per year. These are real small businesses. For example, there are 250,000 doctor and dentist offices organized as S-corporations or partnerships. They employ millions of workers making less than $250,000 per year. These jobs are endangered by the threatened Obama tax rate hike.

The Obama tax hike plan will kill small business jobs. Obama often claims he wants to raise taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” but is actually targeting successful small companies. A oft-cited study by Ernst and Young projects that this tax rate hike will kill 710,000 small business jobs.

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Five More Obamacare Taxes Hitting in 60 Days


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 5:19 PM PERMALINK


The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase:  Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year.  In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase:  The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap). 

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 several million 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. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

 

The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase:  This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income:

 

Capital Gains

Dividends

Other*

2012

15%

15%

35%

2013+ (current law)

23.8%

43.4%

43.4%

The table above also incorporates the scheduled hike in the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, and the scheduled hike in dividends rate from 15 to 39.6 percent.

The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions – a $15.2 billion tax increase: Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills.

The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike -- an $86.8 billion tax increase:  The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits.  Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead. This is a direct marginal income tax hike on small business owners, who are liable for self-employment tax in most cases. The table below compares current law vs. the Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike:

 

First $200,000
($250,000 Married)
Employer/Employee

All Remaining Wages
Employer/Employee

Current Law

1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed

1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed

Obamacare Tax Hike

1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed

1.45%/2.35%
3.8% self-employed

 

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Michael Bloomberg: Raising taxes on the rich is "about as dumb a policy as I can think of."


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 2:53 PM PERMALINK


New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who endorsed President Barack Obama on Wednesday, announced on Oct. 8 his view that raising taxes on the rich was “about as dumb a policy as I can think of.”   

President Obama has been vague on what he would do if given a second term, but he’s been loud and clear about one thing: His desire to raise the top two marginal income tax rates. Obama’s plan would raise taxes on one million small businesses.

Bloomberg’s statement was in reaction to New York mayoral candidates’ advocacy for higher taxes on upper earners.  As quoted by Capital New York on Oct. 8:

"Well if you want to drive out the 1 percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes, that's as good a strategy as I know," he responded. "That's exactly the ways to do it, and then our revenue would go away, and we wouldn't be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids."

According to the Oct. 13 New York Post Bloomberg also said:

“You saw in France people moving out when they raised the tax rates.  Whether you like it or not, the wealthy are mobile.”

Unfortunately for small business owners and their employees, President Obama disagrees. 

According to the IRS, most small business profits face taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year.  The Obama-Biden plan will raise taxes on a majority of small business profits and hit those companies which employ a majority of Americans who work for small businesses.

Even a Big Gulp-banning, gun-grabbing mayor can understand that, Mr. President.

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Biden's Tax Malarkey


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, October 12th, 2012, 12:39 PM PERMALINK


During Thursday’s debate, Vice-President Joe Biden engaged – in his words – in a fit of malarkey on the tax issue.  Below are the details of what he claimed and what the real truth is:

Biden:  “97 percent of the small businesses in America pay less - make less than $250,000. Let me tell you who some of those other small businesses are: hedge funds that make $600 million, $800 million a year. That's – that's what they count as small businesses, because they're pass-through.”

The Obama-Biden plan to raise the top two marginal income tax rates (from 33 and 35 percent today to 36 and 39.6 percent, respectively) is a hike in America’s small business tax rate.  Because small businesses pay taxes using the individual rates, a hike in these rates is a hike in the small business tax rate.  According to IRS data, a majority of small business profits face taxation in the top two brackets. 

Studies have shown that a majority of everyone in America who works for a small business works for one that will see its tax rate rise under the Obama-Biden plan.  A recent study by Ernst and Young projects that this tax hike will kill over 700,000 small employer jobs.  The study shouldn’t come as a surprise, as higher taxes on businesses often means layoffs.

Despite what Vice President Biden would have you believe, the one million small businesses burdened by this tax increase are not simply far distant financial pass-throughs – they are the Main Street businesses that Americans see every day.

Biden: “We went ahead and made sure that we cut taxes for the middle class.”

Obama and Biden have clearly broken their 2008 “firm pledge” not to sign “any form of tax increase” on families making less than $250,000.  As a conservative estimate, at least seven Obamacare tax hikes fall directly on middle class families, and many more will raise costs indirectly for these families.  Here is a list of the top five worst Obama-Biden taxes that hit the middle class.

Meanwhile the Romney-Ryan plan will cut taxes for lower and middle-income households. The lowest rate will drop from 10 to 8 percent.  The 15 percent rate (which most middle income families face at the margin) will drop from 15 to 12 percent. Furthermore, Romney will repeal Obamacare, including the 20 new or higher taxes in that law. 

Of recent note, Obama has altered his tax pledge: In a second term, he only promises not to raise income taxes on those making less than $250,000, and only for one year. After the one year has come and gone, all taxes are fair game, and at any income level. With nearly $7 trillion in projected deficits in President Obama’s budget, it’s pretty clear where this Administration is coming next for higher taxes—the middle class.

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Flashback: Biden Calls Paying Higher Taxes "Patriotic"


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, October 11th, 2012, 6:16 PM PERMALINK


As reported by the Associated Press on Sept. 18, 2008 (“Biden calls paying higher taxes a patriotic act”) then-candidate Joe Biden, advocating for the Obama tax increase plan, said:

“It's time to be patriotic ... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

At the time, the Obama-Biden ticket was running on a plan to raise the top two marginal income tax rates from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent, respectively. According to IRS data, the majority of small employer profits face taxation at these marginal tax rates.

As noted by Samuel Johnson, appeals to false patriotism are “the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Watch the Biden “patriotic” video clip here.

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Shattered: Biden Debate Promise Not to Raise "any tax" on Middle-Class


Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, October 11th, 2012, 4:10 PM PERMALINK


During the Oct. 3, 2008 vice-presidential debate, in front of 70 million viewers, then-candidate Joe Biden made a promise to the American people:

 “No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised whether it’s their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax. [Transcript]

Biden’s promise echoed that of then-candidate Barack Obama.  Speaking in Dover, New Hampshire on Sept. 12, 2008, Obama said:

“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.”  [Video]

The Obama-Biden promise was shattered when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.  Obamacare contains at least seven direct tax hikes that unquestionably violate the Obama-Biden pledge. The five worst are described below:

1. The Obamacare Individual Mandate Non-Compliance Tax:

Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services -- must pay an income surtax to the IRS. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that six million American families will be liable for the tax, and as pointed out by the Associated Press:  “Most would be in the middle class.”

In addition, 100 percent of Americans filing a tax return (140 million filers) will be forced to submit paperwork to the IRS showing they either had “qualifying” health insurance for every month of the tax year or they obtained an exemption to the mandate.

Americans liable for the surtax will pay according to the following schedule:

 

1 Adult

2 Adults

3+ Adults

2014

1% AGI/$95

1% AGI/$190

1% AGI/$285

2015

2% AGI/$325

2% AGI/$650

2% AGI/$975

2016 +

2.5% AGI/$695

2.5% AGI/$1390

2.5% AGI/$2085

 

2. The Obamacare Tax on Union Member and Early Retiree Health Insurance Plans:

Obamacare imposes a new 40 percent excise tax on high cost or “Cadillac” health insurance plans, effective in 2018. This tax increase will most directly affect union families and early retirees, who are likely to be covered by such plans.  This Obamacare tax will be levied on insurance policies whose premiums exceed $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family.  Middle class union members tend to be covered by such plans in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

3. The Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Tax – a.k.a. “Special Needs Kids Tax”:

The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will, starting in 2013, face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set their own cap). 

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 several million middle class families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use pre-tax FSA dollars 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. This $13 billion Obamacare tax hike will severely limit the options available to these families

4. The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax: 

This $20 billion Obamacare tax increase prevents Americans from being able to use their pre-tax health accounts to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. 

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11 percent of Americans who receive health insurance from their workplace are enrolled in a Health Savings Account qualifying health insurance plan.  This amounts to an estimated 16 million covered lives.

Using data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, it is estimated that 30-35 million Americans take advantage of FSAs at work.

The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet tax prevents these tens of millions of middle class families from being able to purchase everyday medicines using these accounts. Examples of items no longer able to be purchased with pre-tax dollars without a prescription include pain relievers, cold and flu medicines, antacids, nasal sprays, and children’s vitamins.

5. The Obamacare High Medical Bills Tax:

Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  Beginning in 2013, this $15 billion tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and middle class families with modest incomes but high medical bills.

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Top Five Obama-Biden Tax Hikes Burying the Middle Class

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Posted by Ryan Ellis, John Kartch on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 11:07 AM PERMALINK


The following are the top five tax increases on the middle class signed into law by the Obama-Biden administration:

1. The Obamacare Individual Mandate Non-Compliance Tax:

Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services -- must pay an income surtax to the IRS. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that six million American families will be liable for the tax, and as pointed out by the Associated Press:  “Most would be in the middle class.”

In addition, 100 percent of Americans filing a tax return (140 million filers) will be forced to submit paperwork to the IRS showing they either had “qualifying” health insurance for every month of the tax year or they obtained an exemption to the mandate.

Americans liable for the surtax will pay according to the following schedule:

 

1 Adult

2 Adults

3+ Adults

2014

1% AGI/$95

1% AGI/$190

1% AGI/$285

2015

2% AGI/$325

2% AGI/$650

2% AGI/$975

2016 +

2.5% AGI/$695

2.5% AGI/$1390

2.5% AGI/$2085


2. The Obamacare Tax on Union Member and Early Retiree Health Insurance Plans:

Obamacare imposes a new 40 percent excise tax on high cost or “Cadillac” health insurance plans, effective in 2018. This tax increase will most directly affect union families and early retirees, who are likely to be covered by such plans.  This Obamacare tax will be levied on insurance policies whose premiums exceed $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family.  Middle class union members tend to be covered by such plans in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

3. The Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Tax – a.k.a. “Special Needs Kids Tax”:

The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will, starting in 2013, face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set their own cap). 

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 several million middle class families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use pre-tax FSA dollars 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. This $13 billion Obamacare tax hike will severely limit the options available to these families

4. The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax:

This $20 billion Obamacare tax increase prevents Americans from being able to use their pre-tax health accounts to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. 

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11 percent of Americans who receive health insurance from their workplace are enrolled in a Health Savings Account qualifying health insurance plan.  This amounts to an estimated 16 million covered lives.

Using data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, it is estimated that 30-35 million Americans take advantage of FSAs at work.

The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet tax prevents these tens of millions of middle class families from being able to purchase everyday medicines using these accounts. Examples of items no longer able to be purchased with pre-tax dollars without a prescription include pain relievers, cold and flu medicines, antacids, nasal sprays, and children’s vitamins.

5. The Obamacare High Medical Bills Tax:

Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  Beginning in 2013, this $15 billion tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and middle class families with modest incomes but high medical bills.

Follow the authors on Twitter: @RyanLEllis and @JohnKartch

 Click here for a PDF version of this document.

Photo Credit: 
Chuck Kennedy

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Obama's Altered Tax Pledge


Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 1:21 PM PERMALINK


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President Obama Alters Middle Class Tax Promise


Posted by John Kartch on Friday, August 10th, 2012, 12:27 PM PERMALINK


President Barack Obama has altered his 2008 “firm pledge” that no family making less than $250,000 per year would see “any form of tax increase.” Obama has now limited the pledge to merely “income taxes” – and only for “next year.”

On Sept. 12, 2008, speaking in Dover, New Hampshire, candidate Obama said:

“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.

But this Wednesday, August 8, speaking in Grand Junction, Colorado, President Obama said:

“So if your family makes under $250,000 -- which, by the way, 98 percent of Americans do -- 97 percent of small businesses do, you will not see your income taxes increase by a single dime next year.  That’s my plan.” 

Why the abrupt shift? It may have something to do with the fact that President Obama has already broken his “firm pledge” to the American people on two occasions:

On Feb. 4, 2009, just sixteen days into his presidency, President Obama signed into law a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco – a hike of 62 cents per pack.  The median income of smokers was just over $36,000 at the time of the bill signing.

When the tax increase took effect on April 1, 2009, the Associated Press rightly called out Obama for the broken promise, in an article titled PROMISES, PROMISES:  Obama Tax Pledge Up In Smoke.

In the article, White House spokesman Reid Cherlin tried to pull a fast one on AP reporter Calvin Woodward.  Cherlin falsely claimed President Obama’s tax pledge applied only to “income or payroll taxes”.  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." 

The AP noted the sudden shift from “any form of tax increase” to just “income or payroll taxes” and pointed out that Obama’s 2008 campaign used the $250,000 promise to defend against Republican allegations that Obama would raise taxes on electricity and home heating oil. From the AP article:

The Democratic campaign used such statements to counter Republican assertions that Obama would raise taxes in a multitude of direct and indirect ways, recalled Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I think a reasonable person would have concluded that Senator Obama had made a 'no new taxes' pledge to every couple or family making less than $250,000," she said.

Jamieson noted GOP ads that claimed Obama would raise taxes on electricity and home heating oil. "They rebutted both with the $250,000 claim," she said of the Obama campaign, "so they did extend the rebuttal beyond income and payroll."

President Obama’s tax increases on families making less than $250,000 didn’t stop with tobacco. The “any form of tax increase” promise was broken a second time when President Obama signed the healthcare bill into law, which contains at least seven new or higher taxes that hit families making less than $250,000 per year.

On April 15, 2009, when the healthcare push was getting underway, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if Obama’s “firm pledge” applied to the health care bill. Gibbs replied:

 “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”  [Transcript] [Video]

But the President’s March 23, 2010 signature on Obamacare made possible the following new or higher taxes – none of which exempts families making less than $250,000:

1. The Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax:  Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by Obama-appointed bureaucrats -- must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following:

 

 

1 Adult

2 Adults

3+ Adults

2014

1% AGI/$95

1% AGI/$190

1% AGI/$285

2015

2% AGI/$325

2% AGI/$650

2% AGI/$975

2016 +

2.5% AGI/$695

2.5% AGI/$1390

2.5% AGI/$2085

 

2. The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax:  This tax took effect in January 2011 and prevents Americans from being able to use their 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).

3. The Obamacare Flexible Spending Account Cap – aka “Special Needs Kids Tax”: Starting in January 2013, Obamacare imposes a cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited under federal law). 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

4. The Obamacare "Haircut" to the Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI: Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  Beginning in January 2013, this new Obamacare provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. 

5. The Obamacare HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike: This provision, which took effect in January 2011, increases the 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.

6. The Obamacare Tax on Indoor Tanning Services:  Since July of 2010, Americans using indoor tanning salons face a new 10 percent excise tax.

7. Obamacare Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans: Starting in 2018, this provision imposes a new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family).  Higher thresholds exists for early retirees and those in high-risk professions.

On Wednesday, President Obama also added a curious time conditional to his revised promise, saying he would not raise income taxes “next year” on families making less than $250,000.

Taxpayers may be asking themselves what other tax increases await them if President Obama is given a second term.

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Coburn to GOP: Hike Taxes or Find Another Country to Live In


Posted by John Kartch on Monday, July 16th, 2012, 2:22 PM PERMALINK


As a guest on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on December 14, 2011, Senator Tom Coburn said:

"I would tell every Republican out there: if you think in this time of divided government that we're not going to be able to come to an agreement without some revenue increases, than you might as well go find another country to live in.  There is no way we're going to solve our problems without compromise.  And part of that compromise is that we are going to have to have more revenues."

See also Coburn's Top Five "Let Hike Taxes" Quotations

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