Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Obama the panderer 
Barack Obama says he wants to give tax relief to seniors and the middle class by raising taxes on the wealthy.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama proposed up to $85 billion in tax cuts for about 150 million Americans on Tuesday, paid for by raising capital gains and dividend taxes on wealthy investors.

Obama's tax plan, set to be announced in a speech in Washington, includes a cut of up to $1,000 for working families, a mortgage interest credit for low- and middle-income homeowners and the elimination of income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 per year.

"To get through these uncertain times, we have to recognize that we all have a stake in one another's success," the Illinois senator said in excerpts of the speech provided by his campaign. "When folks are hurting out there on Main Street, that's not good for Wall Street."

Obama is playing catch-up in the 2008 presidential race behind Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who leads national polls less than four months before the first nominating contest in Iowa.

His focus on taxes comes the day after Clinton unveiled her plan for universal health care as the contenders in the November 2008 presidential election stake out their policy positions.

Obama said he would pay for the middle-class tax relief with a crackdown on corporate loopholes and offshore tax havens and an increase in the highest bracket for capital gains and dividend taxes. He did not specify the size of the increase.
Problem is, we don't really need tax cuts, nor have I heard of anyone other than the wealthy clamoring for them. On the contrary, the federal government needs more revenue. While I favor rolling back the Cheney-era tax cuts that most benefited the folks who needed them least, we (the federal government, that is) need that money for things besides yet another go-round of wealth redistribution. Bush/Cheney have done more than enough of that already. For one thing, we've built up a massive debt that won't be paid down until there is revenue to cover it. For another, I (for one) would like to see a single-payer health plan covering all US residents. Such a plan would cost a boatload of tax money, albeit much of it offset by the billions we'd no longer be paying to insurance companies.

It really chaps my ass when politicians, especially ones who claim to be "outside the beltway" types, start making tax-cut proposals as a way to buy votes. I expect it from Republicans, and even from some Blue Dog Democrats, but Obama has been painted (and portrays himself) as something different, and better. This is not better.

I've been slow to pick a Presidential candidate I'm ready to support, and I'm still not at all sure who I'll pull a primary lever for on February 5, but Senator Obama just went a long way to removing himself from the list of candidates I'll have to consider.

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