On this date 11 years ago, Biden broke his middle class tax pledge
As Vice President on this date 11 years ago — March 23, 2010 — 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]
Biden’s running mate Barack Obama touted the pledge in 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 safely in office, Obama and Biden imposed tax increases on millions of middle class households.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked by reporters on Tax Day — April 15, 2009 — if the Obama-Biden pledge applied to Obamacare. Gibbs affirmed, saying: “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”
But Biden imposed tax increases on the middle class:
Individual Mandate Tax: Obamacare imposed a tax 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.
According to official IRS data for the 2017 tax year, 74% of households liable for the individual mandate tax had an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000.
In 2017, the individual mandate tax was paid by 4,606,271 households.
3,430,003 of these households had an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000.
Thanks to congressional Republicans 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: This Obama-Biden tax increase meant the 20 million Americans with a Health Savings Account and the 30 to 35 million Americans with a Flexible Spending Account were 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.
For years, this Obama-Biden tax made household medicine cabinet items more expensive. President Trump signed repeal of the Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax in March 2020.
Chronic Care Income Tax Hike: This Obama-Biden income tax increase directly targeted middle class Americans who faced high medical and dental expenses in a given year. The 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 Obama-Biden tax.
Flexible Spending Account Tax: Due to this Obama-Biden 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 Obama-Biden 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 options for low and middle income families.
This Obama-Biden tax also hits special needs families. Families with special needs children often use FSA dollars to pay for special needs tuition and educational materials, which can run thousands of dollars per year. The Obama-Biden $2,500 cap makes things more difficult for these families.
“Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he would never raise any tax on any American earning less than $250,000. And now taxpayers know what to expect from his current $400,000 pledge,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
Obama and Biden first broke their “firm pledge” on Feb. 4, 2009 when Obama signed a 156 percent increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco, which raised the cost of a pack of cigarettes by 62 cents. The median income of a smoker at the time was less than $40,000.
When the Associated Press did a national story titled “Promises, Promises, Up in Smoke” calling out Obama and Biden for the broken pledge, then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made his colleague give the [bogus] reply to the reporter, Calvin Woodward. You see, according to the spokesman Reid Cherlin, the pledge only applied to “income or payroll taxes.”
Busted. As noted by the AP:
An unequivocal “any tax” pledge also was heard in the vice presidential debate, another prominent forum.
“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.”
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.”
Keep an eye on Biden as he attempts to come up with an excuse for breaking his $400,000 pledge.