Obama on Taxes: The Record

Sarah Palin did well to focus last night on Barack Obama’s record as opposed to his rhetoric. Obama may say that he only wants to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, while cutting them for everyone else. But how has he voted?

Let’s go back to his record in the Illinois Senate. According to CBS News (hardly a conservative source), Obama did vote to give the poor tax breaks and “helped pass a 5 percent earned-income tax credit for low-income working families in 2000.” That’s good! But here are some other things he did:

“Obama occasionally supported higher taxes, joining other Democrats in pushing to raise more than 300 taxes and fees on businesses in 2004 to help solve a budget deficit…That’s one reason Illinois business groups gave Obama a low rating, while labor groups praised him.”

He “[v]oted to end $300 million worth of tax breaks for businesses.”

He “[v]oted against making permanent the repeal of the state’s 5 percent sales tax on gasoline.”

For the CBS story, see here.

Those tax increases probably affected the middle class, since, well, there are middle class people who own businesses and pay at the gas pump. No wonder Sarah Palin was concerned about her sister Heather!

When Obama came to the U.S. Senate, his record wasn’t much better. Barack Obama on the Issues indicates the following:

Obama voted “NO on repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax” (Mar 2007).

He voted “YES on $47B for military by repealing capital gains tax cut” (Feb 2006).

He voted “NO on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends” (Feb 2006).

He voted “NO on extending the tax cuts on capital gains and dividends” (Nov 2005).

The Alternative Minimum Tax hits the upper middle class. Even Hillary spoke against it in the debates. And I’m sure there are middle class people who own stocks and benefit from capital gains. Obama may say that he wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for them. But (as far as I can see) that’s not how he voted.

Here’s a quote from Politifact, which actually tries to defend Barack Obama from the McCain ads:

“Obama joined Democrats on what were largely party-line votes expressing the desire to roll back the Bush tax cuts in order to fund popular programs. The tax cuts would have been rescinded on people making about $42,000 and higher” (see here).

Politifact says that this was merely a non-binding resolution, not an actual tax increase. But what’s it say about Obama? If a bill that raises taxes hits his desk as President of the United States, will he sign it, or veto it? My impression is that his talk about “tax cuts for the middle class” is just that: talk. He’s pandering to win votes.

And I can’t close this post without a quote from the Club for Growth:

“Barack Obama joined [Hillary] Clinton in opposing the extension of the Bush tax cuts;[5] in opposing the extension of decreased tax rates for capital gains and dividends;[6] and in support of the cigarette tax hike contained in the SCHIP bill.[7]” (see here).

Obama wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for the middle class? Is that how he voted? Is he so eager to hurt the rich, that he’ll raise taxes on everyone who benefits from the Bush tax cuts?

I don’t smoke, but can’t smokers put their “cigarette tax” dollars to other uses, such as (say) stimulating the economy? Also, there are middle-class people who smoke!

Palin will do well to keep pointing this stuff out!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Candidates, Current Events, Politics, Sarah Palin. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Obama on Taxes: The Record

  1. steph says:

    This is very elitist isn’t it? The upper middle class are rich. It’s the poor who need tax cuts. And what’s this – Palin putting personal and family concerns before the good of the country? I don’t see this as damaging except by the standards of the elites. What a dirty campaign the Republicans are running anyway although I doubt Palin herself dug the dirt herself.


  2. James Pate says:

    What’s elitist about it, Steph? I’ll tell you what’s elitist: thinking that the government knows how to spend people’s money than they do themselves.


  3. steph says:

    So would the rich of their own free will help the poor and provide housing, subsidise the health and education system, pay for arts and culture and conservation and all the other things the government do? Or are they too greedy?


  4. James Pate says:

    I’m sure we should do some of that stuff without a bloated bureaucracy. And what do you mean by “arts and culture”? That smut Jesse Helms exposed when he was alive?


  5. steph says:

    Oh you probably don’t have it. We support performing and practical arts in New Zealand – theatre, music, dance, craft etc – and culture of indigenous people: te reo Maori (language) and Maoritanga (culture). These things rely on government support.


  6. steph says:

    I have no idea who Jesse Helms is and our arts and culture are not smut. I don’t believe the rich would provide for the things the government does. They want no taxes to get richer. It is also unrealistic as they couldn’t organise themselves to do it.


  7. James Pate says:

    Oh, we’ve got it, all right. It’s called the National Endowment for the Arts. In the 90’s, it funded blasphemy and pornography–with our tax dollars.


  8. steph says:

    I’m sure it wasn’t really blasphemy and pornography. I think you are prone to over react and exaggerate. Ours funds real art, real literature and real culture, all valuable assets to our country. Nobody appreciates everything but everything is appreciated.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Barbara DeGenevieve, Adrian Searle, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karen Finley, Tim Miller, John Fleck, Holly Hughes: I’m very liberal, and not easily offended; however, I would call most of their work pornographic…The NEA funds some very good projects, but also some very offensive ones, and (to their credit), they have also pulled funding from some projects. The Unites States does support the arts, both through the NEA and private individuals. It seems that people from other parts of the world often see Americans as plebians and rubes. Such is certainly NOT the case.


  10. James Pate says:

    I didn’t exaggerate the Siecus report, did I?

    Anonymous listed examples of bad stuff the NEA funded. But probably the most famous example is Serrano’s putting a crucifix in urine.


  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and that was offensive even to many non-Christians!


  12. steph says:

    I don’t know if you’re exaggerating on Siecus. I can’t access it can I. But on your past record of exaggeration I’d say you might be. The concept of sex education should not be discarded whatever the Seicus report proposes. The contents of it can be debated.

    As far as the arts go I don’t know what anon’s point is. There must be worthwhile arts in need of support in America. Who knows. Maybe it’s all porn.


  13. steph says:

    I think some people have preconceived ideas about what art should be.


  14. James Pate says:

    I have no “past record” of exaggeration. I linked to the report so that people can check it out for themselves, rather than just trusting me. Is it my fault that Siecus feels it has something to hide, with all this new publicity about its booklet (from Hannity and people in the blogosphere)?


  15. steph says:

    I don’t actually care about Seicus. It’s all debatable. I care about sex education. Your past record is your blogging record in some of your political posts.


  16. Anonymous says:

    Some people DO have preconceived notions about “art”–both kinds, the Western notion and the “art for life” of indiginous cultures. However, a line must be drawn somewhere and if tax monies are to be given for the arts, then those arts should not offend the majority of the people. Which is why there are committees for both organizations, such as the NEA, and for private organizations. I am sure that even in YOUR country, not EVERYONE who considers him/herself an “artist” earns the right to government funding. Oh, and by the way, there are those who argue that child pornography and humiliating and demeaning acts on stage and in print are “art”. I may be old fashioned with “pre-conceived” notions, but those things, I believe, run contrary to the moral fiber of MOST people. MY POINT IS: you were quite uninformed in assuming that the government of the United States does not support the arts. They do.


  17. James Pate says:

    Good points, Anonymous!

    I wish I were exaggerating on the SIECUS report. It shocked me that this organization that Obama supports wants kindergarteners to learn about the ins and outs of sex.

    And, while it’s sad that Siecus doesn’t have its report up anymore, it can run, but it cannot hide. There are other blogs that go further than my post and explicitly quote the Siecus book.


  18. Anonymous says:

    Before Steph jumps down my throat because she might think I was insinuating that her country would argue that child pornography, et al, was “art”, let me make it perfectly clear that is certainly NOT what I meant in my posting. I was arguing that the United States does, indeed, support the arts. Ironically, much of that support actually comes FROM the “elite”, or at least one definition of the “elite”. As well, there has to be a line drawn at some point, as not all those who call themselves or their work “artistic” are actually true “artists”. Just wanted to clarify myself to avoid misunderstanding.


  19. steph says:

    I didn’t assume that the US didn’t support the arts. I was explaining where taxes go. My following sarcastic comment that maybe you didn’t was in response to James’ comment about smut. And I think you mean indigenous.

    As I said James policy is debatable. And I haven’t seen this report that is after all debatable before it is passed as part of a school curriculum. Can you really imagine teachers agreeing without compromise? You do however exaggerate so I’m not fully convinced by your description of this report but it doesn’t really matter does it if it is debatable.


  20. James Pate says:

    Steph, you accusing me of exaggeration is like the pot calling the kettle black. You’ve made your share of exaggerations. You flat-out said that the American government lied to get us into war. Not “they misinterpreted or misunderstood the evidence,” but they LIED. That’s an exaggeration.

    You said that there was absolutely no connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq, even though reports that deny an operational connection nevertheless assert that there were some links. When I point this out, you resort to some conspiracy theory that they were trying to support the war. Steph, these reports are trying to make your point more than mine, yet they acknowledge some links. You exaggerate.

    You treat my support for tax cuts as if I don’t think the government should spend money at all. Sure, it should spend money, but we can do without all these wasteful bureaucracies. Plus, tax cuts have often resulted in more revenue, not less. You see this issue in terms of a polarity, and you end up exaggerating and carachaturing the views of those who disagree with you.

    And if you want debatable, it’s the spin Barack Obama is putting on his sex ed record. He said in a speech way back that he supports sex ed for kindergarteners. He called it the right thing to do. His aid gave MSNBC the Siecus report, which Siecus has conveniently removed from the Internet.


  21. Anonymous says:

    Ooohhhh, a spelling error. Mea culpa.


  22. Anonymous says:

    “I have no idea who Jesse Helms is and our arts and culture are not smut.”

    Steph, if you had read James’ comment more carefully, you might have been able to discern that he did NOT say “your” art and culture were “smut”. He DID point out that Helms (whom I did not support politically, by the way, so this is not an endorsement of the late Senator) exposed a lot of what was trying to pass as “art” HERE as “smut”.

    “I don’t believe the rich would provide for the things the government does… It is also unrealistic as they couldn’t organise themselves to do it.”

    Eiteljorgs, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Kennedys, etc.–all very “elite”, all very “rich”, perhaps all very “greedy”, but all supporters of the arts. In fact, our “elite” do much to support the arts and culture, and in a very organized way, both the conservatives and the liberals.


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