September 18th, 2007
05:50 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama's tax plan: Robin Hood Approach

Watch excerpts of Sen. Obama's tax policy speech.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama unveiled his tax cut plan Tuesday in Washington. Some would call it a Robin Hood approach, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. (Related: Obama tax plan: $80 billion in cuts, five-minute filings)

"At a time when Americans are working harder than ever, we are taxing income from work at nearly twice the level that we're taxing gains for investors," said the Democratic presidential candidate.

Obama said the current tax system is working against most Americans and he wants to fix it, arguing, "I'll restore simplicity to the tax code and fairness for the American middle class. It's time to stand up to special interest carve outs.”

Obama said his plan calls for “cutting taxes for working people, homeowners, and seniors."

Among the specifics: a tax cut of up to one thousand dollars for 150 million working Americans, a tax credit for homeowners that don't itemize their deductions, eliminating the income tax for seniors making less than 50 thousand dollars annually, and a simplified tax filing process

The Illinois senator said that he’ll pay for all this by “shutting down corporate loopholes and tax havens. We'll also turn the page on an approach that gives repeated tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans even though they don't need them and didn't ask for them."

That sounds similar to Obama’s Democratic rivals, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina. They rolled out their tax plans earlier this year – with Clinton calling for “rolling back some of President Bush's fiscally-irresponsible tax breaks for the highest income Americans," and Edwards pledging to “get rid of Bush's tax cut for people who make over two hundred thousand dollars a year."

Tuesday’s announcement in Washington is part of an economic policy push by Obama. On Monday, he was at the NASDAQ headquarters in New York City, chastising Wall Street executives for looking out for themselves rather than helping the middle class.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • New Hampshire • South Carolina
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Erik

    Obamahood! His tax plan sounds great to me! Very nobel!

    September 18, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Robin Hood is good socialist fiction but bad public policy. Indeed it borders on an unconstitutional taking if you're crazy enough to put it in those terms. Fortunately, Obama has little or no chance of being elected after voters start listening– in October.

    September 18, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Obama failed to mention how he would prevent a greater tax burden on the rich from making more of the rich move out of the country in search of tax relief (and then pay the lowest amount , 0%). Also, his increase in corporate taxes only increases prices or increases unemployment as companies either pass their tax burden onto consumers or slash cost by removing wage costs. His plan on taxes is naive just like every other plan he has developed. An Obama presidency would bring in lower tax revenues, increased prices, and increased unemployment. At least in Obama's favor, this is no different than any of the other dems.

    September 18, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. TheRealist

    Obama is the ONLY one who has the ideas and judgment to be President.
    He may not have all that bad experience of making mistakes like the other candidates, but he will have lots of time to do that after he gets elected.He makes people so excited that many have to go to the bathroom, and he has the best plan for health care, without a doubt, and no one can deny it. His charisma is shinier than Edwards' hair, prettier than Mitt Romney's wife and more colorful than Hillary's pants suit, and he's Bi-Racial! What more could you want?

    He's even been a senator of a state, now he's a real senator and they make great Presidents, which is impossible to deny. He has a guy so smart with him now that nobody can pronounce his name, forget about spell it!
    The MSM just doesn't tell you how people can't stop yelling when they see him, or how many people have to go to the bathroom, or about the guy who's name nobody can pronounce, or that he's the only one who can bring us together and he went to AFRICA! What more could you want?
    He doesn't even wear a tie a lot of the time! His health care plan is the best and he was against the war before anyone else, go ahead and ask him and he will tell you!
    He doesn't need a tie and he's not tied to the special interests or the past! Whatever you think about him, he thought of it first and you are just copying him!
    ASK HIM! I dare you.

    September 18, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Barabas, Hot City, TX

    Blah, Blah, Blah....He sounds like a car salesman. "Come on down to Obama's Used Cars and Smoked Turkeys! We'll give you hard-working folks a one-thousand dollar check for buying from us!" Then you drive of with $1,000.00 dollars in your pocket and a car that will cost you $10,000.00 a year to keep it running.

    Unfortunately this kind of strategy appeals to narrow-minded people who only think about immediate gratificaton and not the long term consequences. And, more & more, it seems like the U.S. is filled with these people.

    I'm not buying the car...and I'm not buying Obama.

    September 18, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Steven, South Orange NJ

    Who doesn't love a good Robinhood tax plan. Next when Obama wins the Democratic debate he can swordfight with Sheriff (Republican Candidate) who cares. Anyway I'd like to see that swashbuckler whether its a word debate or a swordfight.

    September 18, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. Will, NYC

    Hhhhm, this doesn't sound like robin hood redistributino to me. Sounds like closing loopholes, offshore cheaters and restoring the middle class to paying thier fair share.

    September 18, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Debbie, San Antonio, Tx

    I am sick of hearing about the wealthiest one percent. Even if it were .5%,they earned that money and it should not be taken away simply because dems don't like rich people. What about you Barack, why don't you start putting out for social security like the rest of us? What about the fact that the wealthy pay and pay again when they die? Why should the government get 50% of their estate when it has already been taxed? Middle class needs a break, but not at the expense of those who employ them

    September 18, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  9. Henry Tucker, Ga

    Considering individuals earning over $100,000 (10% of the population) already pay for 67% of the total taxes each year – it's "unfair" to offer them any relief. Instead, let's cut the taxes of individuals $50,000 and under who only pay 7.5% of the total tax collected by the IRS.

    Those poor souls... they get 67% of all the benefits and only pay 7.5% of the costs. Let's give them MORE benefits and increase the taxes on the wealthy Americans.

    This approach is EITHER buying votes or a belief in a socialism. Which is it, Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama?

    September 18, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Who remembers the Campaign of 1992? Then President Bush Sr. was stuck in his heroic Kuwait war.

    The motto of the campaign though was: "It's the economy, stupid". Bush lost.

    No need to make it explicit here. 2 days, back to back. 2 policies from the fron-runners.

    September 18, 2007 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Wallace, Chicago, IL

    Excellent plan.

    I'm sure someone will find a way to spin this negatively though.
    This guy seems to be really be about helping people. And I don't think it's about hand outs, it's about rewarding those that work hard.

    I hope the other candidates follow suit, but I doubt it.


    September 18, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Mike, Fox River Grove, IL

    It's about time that the 1% of the population who control 90% of the money pay, without shelters, dirty tricks, and special breaks, their fair portion of the taxes. This nation cannot continue to have it's Middle Class (becoming Working Poor) hold up the rich and let them get away with their outrageous salaries, retirement plans, and bonuses. I can point to the CEO of ComEd here in IL who makes (ready?) $63,000 A DAY. Yes people, that's one day. Let's not forget we should also take away the free rides of our Congressmen. Make them hunt for the best health insurance, make them rely on the "generosity" of corporations for their pensions and make those pensions be at the same rate as the people (and not their total salaries). Have them dig through paperwork after paperwork to find the best prices for other insurances. In other words bring OUR ELECTED officials back to OUR level and NOT the CEOs, and force the CEOs to realize that they are only better because they are allowed to be, not because they deserve it. Last but not least take away the single stupidest idea in the financial history of our nation and remove the ability for a corporation to be an "individual." If anything has caused this nation to turn into a Modern Aristocracy, it's that.

    September 18, 2007 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. Pete, Washington

    Good job Barack! It's about time the MIDDLE CLASS gets a fair shake.

    The more I see and hear about Obama, the more I realize that he is the ONLY one, of all these candidates, that makes any sense.

    Boy, we really need someone like you to move America forward.

    You've got my vote.

    September 18, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Paulet, Simsbury, CT

    I have read it and I approve. All for it because it's REALITY based! It is time to give back to all of the people stuck in the middle who work so hard and get little in return. The segment on seniors under $50,000 is a good one and the break for home owners who don't itemize - imagine the Republicans never though of that - but then Tony Snow resigned for economic reasons - how many families could and do share what he makes 2, 3, 4??? REALITY BASED!!
    It has the simplicity everyone has cried for - although there will be those that will find fault somewhere

    September 18, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Max, Austin, TX

    But people who make above $50K are also "working people" and "homeowners." I'm certainly not "rich."

    September 18, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. Maria, Houston

    Excellent and long overdue! All those CEO's hopping around , one year here – six months there, pocketing their millions in spite of lukewarm results, all those Enron-style fellas getting rich off their clever scams and using off-shore accounts while getting governmental subsidies... Never in the history of this country there was such a gap between CEO's and their hard working employees putting in 50-60 hours in salaried jobs just to stay afloat. Their call-girls are swimming in pools filled with champagne, while our bridges are falling apart... Get rich the old fashion way – earn it.
    Go Barack!

    September 18, 2007 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Richie

    Mr. Obama–

    Okay, once you've taken from the rich and given to the poor, how do you expect things have changed? Do you honestly think the poor will be better off, will use the money to improve themselves? Do you really think it is the government's responsibility to take from those who have worked hard and have earned the success of hard work and give some of their earnings to those who will, generally speaking, not appreciate it and not actually better themselves? Do you think the poor actually will better themselves if you simply give them money?

    Distribution of wealth, is that your plan? Are you a socialist, sir?

    September 18, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  18. Rodney Dallas TX

    I think it's a great idea. Make the rich pay more.....they make more. It's alot easier for them to fork out a thousand buck than it is for me. Look at Paris Hilton. Girl spends a thousand bucks just drinking for a weekend. I'd be in high heaven if I had a thousand bucks just laying around.

    September 18, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Independent Voter, TN

    Some real economic geniuses at work here. Many postings saying that the "rich" don't pay their fair share of the tax load, yet, as Henry noted, the top 10% of earners pay 67% of the taxes. Sounds like more than a fair share to me. And most of that tax money goes to entitlements for the "less fortunate."

    I don't make $100,000 per year and I pay my full share of taxes, but I've read enough history to know that overtaxing the wealthiest segments of the population is the equivalent of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Even our socialist counterparts in Europe followed our lead and dramatically lowered the top tax rates from 90% to 35%. What happened? Economic growth, government revenue and general prosperity suddenly occured.

    It's easy to say someone else should pay if they have the means. But guess what? I'll bet if you were the one that had the means, you wouldn't be posting these ridiculous comments.

    September 18, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    TO THE ANTI OBAMA POSTERS HERE: Either you CAN'T READ or your comprehension skills are sorely lacking. Rolling back the TAX CUTS on the upper 1% of Americans is not "TAKING MONEY AWAY FROM THEM"!!! It is returning their tax burden to where it was before Bush took office. It's not like rolling back the tax cuts is the difference between these people HAVING FOOD and NOT HAVING FOOD!!!

    You Republicans always spout the same nonsense.....This isn't "socialist"'s COMMON SENSE!!! Cut loopholes for corporate America so they pay their fair share.....why should seniors making under $50K a year pay taxes???? What's wrong with a flat tax for homeowners that don't itemize??? HOW CAN YOU FIND FAULT WITH THESE IDEAS??

    Grow a brain people!!! OBAMA '08!!

    September 18, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  21. Kathy Callan, Palo Cedro, CA

    John Edwards proposed a smart, new tax plan several months ago...Edwards was also the first candidate with a truly universal health plan...several months later, Senator Obama followed...Edwards also has the most aggressive plan for fighting global warming and getting us out of Iraq...John Edwards is the leader in the Democratic Party...the others are followers.

    September 18, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  22. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    P.S. I sincerely RESENT CNN characterizing Obama's plan as the "Robin Hood" approach....saying so is nothing more than hyperbole.

    September 18, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  23. Rurik, St. Paul, MN

    This sounds like a GREAT plan! I'm looking forward to seeing how the DFL crafts this to get it passed. We desperately need to help the middle class that Bush and the GOP are destroying.

    September 18, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. A "Mythical" Little Man, Norwalk, CT

    Contrary to what others here may think, I do not begrudge the wealthy their wealth. However, in my middle class experience, I believe the tax cuts just aren't working out as well for the middle class. Why you ask? For starters, the gap between the wealthy and the middle/lower classes HAS widened quite a bit in the past few years.

    September 18, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. Bonnie, Decatur, GA

    Every few days, I ask myself if the election were tomorrow, which candidate has my support?
    Obama wins, as he offers hope of radical change that (because of the last election results)has now become an emergent situation. I just do not trust Hillary, we need Obama, a fresh and insightful person, as our leader.

    September 18, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
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