Barack Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden reminds taxpayers of the duo’s broken middle class tax pledge.
As Vice President, Joe Biden broke his promise to the middle class that no one making less than $250,000 would see a single penny of their tax raised. Biden said his tax vow applied to “any tax.”
Biden made the promise during a nationally televised Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 3, 2008 using firm language:
“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.” [Video]
Obama included the line in this stump speeches for months:
“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.” [Transcript] [Video clip]
Once elected, Obama and Biden immediately pushed for tax increases on millions of middle class households. When Obamacare was signed into law with Biden’s support, it imposed a series of middle class tax hikes including the individual mandate tax, new taxes on households with health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, and an income tax hike on Americans facing high medical bills. Biden also presided over a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco.
Then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked on Tax Day — April 15, 2009 — if the Obama-Biden pledge applied to the Obamacare legislation. Gibbs affirmed, saying: “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”
After breaking the pledge, the Obama-Biden administration was rightly called out by the Associated Press in an article titled “Promises, Promises: Obama Tax Pledge Up in Smoke.”
“Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he and Obama would never raise any tax on any American earning less than $250,000. Whatever Biden says now, taxpayers know what to expect,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
Biden frequently brags of being the key to securing Democrat congressional support for Obamacare, which imposed many direct tax increases on the middle class:
Individual Mandate Tax: Obamacare imposed a tax penalty of $695 for an individual and $2,085 for a family of four for failing to buy “qualifying” health insurance as defined by Obama-Biden rules.
The tax hit low and middle-income families hard: Three-fourths of households stuck paying the tax made less than $50,000 per year, a blatant violation of Biden’s pledge to the American people. (Thanks to the GOP congress and President Trump, this tax was zeroed out as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.)
Biden is now pushing to reimpose the individual mandate tax.
Medicine Cabinet Tax on health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts: Because of Obamacare, the 20 million Americans with a Health Savings Account and the 30 to 35 million Americans with a Flexible Spending Account are no longer able to purchase over-the-counter medicines using these pre-tax account funds. Examples include cold, cough, and flu medicine, menstrual cramp relief medication, allergy medicines, and dozens of other common medicine cabinet health items. Thankfully, President Trump signed repeal of the Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax in March 2020 as part of the pandemic relief bill.
Chronic Care Income Tax Hike: This income tax increase directly targeted middle class Americans who happen to face high medical and dental bills in a given year. This Obamacare tax hit 10 million households per year. Before Obamacare, Americans facing high medical expenses were allowed an income tax deduction to the extent that those expenses exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). Obamacare imposed a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. Therefore, Biden not only made it more difficult to claim this deduction, he widened the net of taxable income.
Again, low and middle income households were hit hard by this tax. On average, affected taxpayers earned about $53,000 annually. ATR estimates the average income tax increase for the average affected household amounted to $200 – $400 per year. Thanks to President Trump and congressional Republicans, this tax hike was rolled back as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Biden has threatened many times to repeal the TCJA.
Flexible Spending Account Tax: The 35 million Americans who use a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs face an Obamacare-imposed cap of $2,500.
Before Obamacare, the accounts were unlimited under federal law. But now, parents looking to save for medical costs or braces for the kids find themselves quickly hitting this new cap. This restricts the options for low and middle income families.
There is one group of flexible spending account households for whom this tax is particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. Families with special needs children often use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition and book costs at special needs schools can run thousands of dollars per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obama-Biden tax increase limits the options available to these families.
With his threatened repeal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Biden will raise taxes on all income levels. If Biden repeals the tax cuts, a median income family of four will face an annual $2,000 tax increase and a median income single parent with one child will face an annual $1,300 tax increase.
Biden even endorsed another middle class tax increase on every homeowner in Milwaukee.
Biden’s record is clear: If he becomes President, your taxes are going up.