For someone who wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent for all but the richest 2 or 3 percent of Americans, and add on top of that a lot of new tax cuts for middle-class Americans, it's surprising how often Senator Barack Obama is accused of proposing "painful tax increases" on American "families."
Few people remember the Clinton years as a time when the economy was strangled by taxes, but today almost no one in politics seems to consider allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of 2010, as they are scheduled to under current law. In keeping with this trend, Senator Obama proposes to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, except for those with incomes over $250,000 (or $200,000 for single people). Families with incomes under these levels would keep their Bush tax cuts and many would benefit from Obama's Making Work Pay Credit, his refundable education credit, his refundable mortgage credit and many other provisions. (In January CTJ found that only 3.2 percent of households in the U.S. will have adjusted gross income above $200,000 in 2008 and only 2.1 percent will have AGI over $250,000).
McCain Commercials Panned as Deceptive
Nonetheless, the McCain campaign has tried to paint Obama as a major tax-hiker. The campaign started out by trying to make hay of Obama's vote for the Democratic budget resolution for 2008 that assumed the extension of many -- but not all -- of the Bush tax cuts. That budget resolution assumed that the 25 percent rate would expire and revert to 28 percent, which could cause a tax increase for a single person with taxable income above $32,550, which comes out to almost $42,000 in total income.
Never mind that budget resolutions are not law and do not raise taxes. And never mind that Obama has repeated over and over that he would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone except those with incomes over $250,000 (or $200,000 for singles).
As FactCheck explains, the McCain campaign aired a commercial saying Obama wanted to raise taxes for everyone making $32,000 a year, but even they realized this was an outright lie since taxable income is not the same thing as total income. So then they aired a commercial telling viewers that Obama would raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year and showed a woman reading to her two children. Of course, the $42,000 figure refers to a single person, and a head of household with two children could make more than $62,000 before falling into the bracket subject to the increased rate. And of course, none of this matters, because it is not part of Obama's tax plan.
The Latest Deceptions
The McCain people haven't stopped. The campaign has a new ad that speaks of Obama's "painful tax increases on working American families." Surrogates for the campaign have made statements that seem to indicate they are either proudly ignorant of the facts or outright liars. Media Matters points out that Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) told Tom Brokaw that Obama would raise taxes "across the board on the American people without exception."
McCain's Advisers Know Their Campaign Is Lying
The most damning aspect of these statements is that the chief economic adviser to Senator McCain has acknowledged that the Obama tax plan does not raise taxes. TIME's Michael Sherer wrote, back in July:
"Here is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's chief economic policy adviser. 'I used to say that Barack Obama raises taxes and John McCain cuts them, and I was convinced,' he told me in a phone interview this week. 'I stand corrected [about Obama's plans].'"