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McCain: Obama's Slippery Definition of 'Rich'

By Dave Eberhart   |   Thursday, 30 Oct 2008 11:42 AM

Republican presidential candidate John McCain has highlighted the fact that throughout the campaign, his opponent Barack Obama’s “definition of rich has a way of creeping down.”

“Senator Obama has made a lot of promises,” McCain elaborated. “First he said people making less than $250,000 would benefit from his plan, then this weekend he announced in an ad that if you’re a family making less than $200,000, you’ll benefit, [and] Senator Biden said tax relief should only go to “middle class people — people making under $150,000 dollars a year.”

“At this rate, it won’t be long before Senator Obama is right back to his vote that Americans making just $42,000 a year should get a tax increase,” McCain concluded.

[McCain’s reference to the Obama tax increase vote has been widely disputed. The fact is that Obama voted twice this year for Democratic-supported resolutions on the budget for the 2009 fiscal year. In those nonbinding resolutions, Obama and others, including two Republicans, voted to allow the tax cuts that President Bush pushed through Congress in 2001 and 2003 to expire at the end of 2010, as envisioned in the original legislation. This has the potential of constructively increasing the taxes for some making $42,000 per year.]

A timeline of Obama definitions of rich:

  • In July 2008, Barack Obama said: “If you make $250,000 a year or less, we will not raise your taxes. We will cut your taxes.” (Barack Obama, remarks, Powder Springs, Ga., 7/8/08)

  • In August 2008, Obama economic policy adviser Jason Furman said that Barack Obama “would cut taxes for almost all of the families making less than [$250,000].”

    “Finally, and perhaps most importantly,” instructed Furman, “the op-ed today makes a very important point that, while Barack Obama would not raise taxes for any family making below $250,000 — in fact, it would cut taxes for almost all of the families making less than that. Senator McCain cannot make a similar promise for his tax plan because, for the first time in history, he would make families pay taxes on the health insurance that they get from their employers.” (Obama for America, press conference call, 8/14/08)

  • In October 2008, Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, delivered the Democrat radio response saying that those making less than $250,000 would see lower taxes.

    “He’ll restore the middle class by cutting taxes for small businesses, and for 95 percent of workers and their families, including 5.7 million in Ohio. If you make less than $250,000, you won’t see your taxes go up one single dime. In fact, your tax rates will be lower than they were under Ronald Reagan.” (Governor Ted Strickland, Democratic Radio Response, 10/4/08)

  • In the new Obama ad, “Defining Moment,” the threshold for the Obama tax plan for families seeing a tax cut is lowered from $250,000 to $200,000.

  • In an interview with a Scranton, Pa. news station, Joe Biden said most recently that only families making under $150,000 would get a tax cut:

    “Spreading the wealth was not — he was talking about is all of the tax breaks have gone to the very, very wealthy,” said Biden. “For example, you have right now, this year, under the old tax policy that was put in by George Bush — people making an average $1.4 million a year, good people, decent people, patriotic…

    “They’re going to get an $87 billion tax break. What we’re saying is that $87 billion tax break doesn’t need to go to people making an average of $1.4 million, it should go like it used to. It should go to middle class people — people making under $150,000 a year.”

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    Republican presidential candidate John McCain has highlighted the fact that throughout the campaign, his opponent Barack Obama’s “definition of rich has a way of creeping down.” “Senator Obama has made a lot of promises,” McCain elaborated. “First he said people making less...
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