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. Kim, Mpls, Mn

    Bravo Senator Obama! Leading the way again and bringing the issues out in the open for debate!

    Fire it up!


    September 18, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. lavelle Rochester,ny

    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

    ^^Well guess what i earned my 34,000 and why should I pay a higher rate then bill gates whos gonna give that money away anyway and then write it off for tax breaks! So your all advocates for the rich getting richer and the poorer getting poorer. All you brillian economist on here talking trash about Obama. But little do you know he could have been on wallstreet making more then what your making now!So get off Obama and let the man help the people! Whats wrong with that people are so selfish its not even funny. my god

    September 18, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. lavelle Rochester,ny

    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?

    The middle class is included in this as well buddy. Why should the middle class carry the lower and upper class while the upper class just continue to be on MTV cribs take trips around the world and leave us hard working folk here to pay the majority of the taxes? yeah you rich folks would rather have it that way wouldnt you dont want us middle class folks to ever get a piece of that pie. thanks

    September 18, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. lavelle Rochester,ny

    "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.

    ^^^Yeah for the rich I guess we dont earn our money either. Thanks Obama for recognizing those who actually help the rich get richer. They just work oh so much harder then we do.

    September 18, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. Ema

    I was wondering if it was just an error. I have been looking on the "FOXNOISE WEBSITE" They have no story on Senator Obama's economic plan. ABCNEWS has it at the very bottom. CNN has tried to spin the story around suggesting Obama's plan is Robin Hood approach. Senator Clintons lame health care story is allover the place on ABC CNN and MSNBC. Woo!!! What a bias country?

    September 18, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Mike, Fox River Grove, IL

    So I see some people are saying that the rich deserve their money because they "earned it." Right. Look at the CEOs of Enron, Worldcomm, etc. See how they and their financial officers got wealthier and wealthier and they how the raped their employees of the pensions, of their jobs, of their lives. Those trash didn't earn a damn thing, they stole it. They robbed it from the REAL workers who propped them up and believed in them. As for all the pathetic, outdated, McCarthyistic whining about Socialism the FACT that any economist will tell you (except a paid off one) is that no economic system can exist without aspects of others. And any taken to the extreme is doomed to total failure. Communism was an example of Socialism taken to the extreme and it failed utterly. Capitalism is now at it's extreme and guess what? It's failing, FAST. Ask the millions in foreclosure. Ask the millions who lost their jobs since 9/11 and never got them back at their same salarires. Oh sure, the unemployment stats have gone down, but that's only because they were forced to take Walmart or other low end jobs nothing close to what they made before. The economy is only as good as the lies perpetuated by the people in charge, the Federal Goverment. The reality on the street is the economy is a train wreck and piling up worse.

    September 18, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. JimmiefromDayton

    Sounds like a we've found a warrior for the middle class to me. He's definitely got my vote.

    September 18, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  8. Dan, Texas

    Posted By Dan (Baltimore, MD) : September 18, 2007 5:00 pm

    If the rich care so little about America that they would move to another country if we raise the capital gains tax to the level Ronald Reagan raised it to – then good riddence. I don't think any Americans would leave this country for that reason. I don't think the majority of rich people are very critical of Obama's tax plan, either. I think they'll realize they've already made out well over the past 20 years.

    Also, business can't make profits if consumers can't buy their products. The tax cut to lower income Americans will go directly back to corporations and their shareholders – NOT retained in the pockets of CEOs. They call it a capital GAINS tax because they made money. Certainly there will be compromise, capital gains from sales of a primary residence probably should remain at a lower capital gains tax rate than sales of stocks.

    I'm one of the one's who wouldn't gain by Obama's plans from the tax cut. But I would gain much by living in a society where my neighbors weren't visibly suffering.

    September 18, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. Lynn, Reno NV

    It's a hoot to read all these tax cut Republicans complaining here about a plan to cut taxes, just because it doesn't come from the GOP. What hypocrisy. You guys will say anything and it makes you look so... I daresn't say it.

    September 18, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. Henry Tucker, Ga

    Lavelle – NY,

    Bill Gates will probably pay more in taxes THIS year than you will earn in your life time. How can you in all seriousness expect anyone to believe you will pay more in taxes than Bill Gates?

    It's this arrogance and sense of benefit entitlement which is so destructive. What you are clearly advocating is socialism, NOT a fair tax plan which treats all individuals equally.

    But keep complaining how the world owes you so much! There will be pandering politicians that enforce your sense of entitlement – namely the democrats.

    September 18, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. Ike, Fairbanks Alaska (&South Korea)

    To quote one well known and fairly accepted analyst of modern political economy:
    "Our epoch, the epoch of the
    bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this
    distinct feature: it has simplified
    class antagonisms. Society as a whole
    is more and more splitting up into
    two great hostile camps, into two
    great classes directly facing each
    other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat."
    It seems to me that this is pretty obvious (rich get richer/poor get poorer). Obama's plan seems to address the symptoms of this issue, even if nobody is discussing the cause of it. I think it is a good plan, but I don't make more than 200 K a year.
    P.S. Don't confuse my point, I am not advocating communism by quoting Marx. Some of his ideas were pretty far fetched, but his analysis of capitalism was spot on.

    September 18, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. NT, New York, NY

    Hot City, TX

    These narrow minded americans sound a lot like the folks who voted G. Bush into office, TWICE! Maybe these same dumb dumbs will make a better choice this time around...

    September 18, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Rick

    another scum bag liberal... spending my money to give it to lazy asses who suck off the government and do not work. He should be thanking all the rich people for paying for everything already. We have the most disgusting tax system already stealing money from hardworking people... double taxing income and estate taxes. It would be so fun to watch liberals if all the rich moved to another country. Obama and his democrat friends could stare at each other and cry about who is going to take care of them now.... oh my god they may actually have to work and take care of themselves..

    September 18, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. Jenna, Champaign, IL

    If I work hard enough to make a lot of money, why should I pay for those who make less? Essentially, I will make $0.50 on the dollar for working 70 hours a week when some Joe Schmo makes $0.85 on the dollar for working 20 hours a week. This Robin Hood act may find itself without working rich people any longer to tax - after all, why work for less?

    September 18, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Greg Parsons, Monroe, North Carolina

    You all keep repeating things like "doing what's fair".... make them pay their "fair share"

    Any of you logged on to

    Any good reason you can offer that Obama should not support this legislation as a "Good Senator" who would make a good president?

    Ask him to offer his reasons for not becoming a co-sponsor of HR-25 S1025. This will really show you who is working in the interest of the working family.

    Taxing Income is counter productive and discourages productivity, saving and investments.

    September 18, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Kanawah, Fairfield, Oh

    I would have to see the cuts, but the high end tax increase sounds good.

    If you benefit form the system, you should pay to support the system. I am tired of seeing the rich getting what amounts to a free ride, or at least, a greatly discounted ride.

    September 18, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. Maria, Houston

    To Ritchie, Barabas, Jeff Spangler and co.:
    Please don't read between the lines what is not there. I lived in a socialist country. Obama is no socialist whatsoever. He is just no fool willing to look the other way. He is proposing closing tax loopholes and taxing corporations that currently have their off shore accounts set up so they can avoid their fair share of tax payments...I have seen tax records of Houston oilman running for the office showing that he pays less taxes than any average American (just another great accounting). Would you say it is fair? He is not proposing to take money from people who worked hard and succeeded, but about crooks and greedy self entitlet cronies who know how to beat the system.

    September 18, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  18. Tammy, Denton, Maryland

    And exactly what would be wrong with a Robin Hood approach? Don't we have a reverse Robin Hood now?

    Warren Buffet said he pays less in taxes than his secretary. Isn't that reverse Robin Hood? Isn't the government currently stealing from the poor to give it to the rich? The poor and the middle class pay the majority in income taxes.

    Sen. Obama is talking about making the tax system fair. What's wrong with that? The greedy selfish media just complains about everything.

    Anything Sen. Obama says that will benefit poor and middle class Americans, you guys take issue with it. Stop it!

    September 18, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. Markie B.

    Geez...CNN calls it Robin Hood. Can these people just stop with the initials and use CLINTON NEWS NETWORK on all their communications? All Obama is saying is that the rich people no longer get the Bush tax cuts. That's it. He's closing all the loopholes big enough for the 1 percent of us to drive their Bentley's or sail their yachts through. He's bringing our tax code back into fair play. Ask yourself, you haters, if Warren Buffett – the world's second-richest man – is asking why he pays at a smaller tax percentage than his secretary? Does that sound like a fair system to you. Obama's plan is NOT socialism. IT'S WHAT'S FAIR!

    September 18, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  20. Johnny, Round Rock, Texas

    Just say "NO" to Nobama. He is pandering to class envy and ig going populist on us. He will pit us against each other and root for the one with the most votes. Don't trust this guy – he's dangerous.

    September 18, 2007 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  21. Az,washington,dc

    Well Clinton News Network,they just had to spin and manipulate this one,didnt they?

    Obama is proposing and will carry out Tax reforms that will ACTUALLY tackle the chronic problems faced by hard working americans and you call it Robin Hood?

    Clinton News Network know full well he is not STEALING the rich's wealth and giving it to the poor,he is GOING TO STOP AND END THE PRACTICES USED BY the rich to STEAL THE WEALTH from the middle and working classes.He is serving long awaited economic justice for the american people.

    Their day of reckoning amongst other MSM outlets will come.

    September 18, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. KD, Dallas, TX

    Ditto on the selfish comment. I think people just have to have something to gripe about on here. If you people on here are so darn satisfied with your income distribution that must obviously work for you, why are you so darn unhappy and griping constantly? The wealthiest people pay a much lower percentage in taxes than the middle class. Why? Because they have figured out how to make their money work for them by giving them greater tax breaks. The middle class has historically supported the taxes in this country. Why should we have to suffer so much to pay for a war that I didn't want and didn't vote for, pay for ridiculous no bid contracts that line the pockets of the wealthy? I don't care for taxes or big government. I just wish our government managed our money to benefit our country and not just a select few. Like it or not, the lower class will always be given support. If you think that any candidate is socialist, you already live in a society that gives to those in need. I doubt very highly that you selfish individuals will ever get our country to ignor the poverty that we have by not helping others. If you are really wanting that kind of country, move somewhere else where people don't care about each other. Is there such a place?

    September 18, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  23. Jeff from Jersey

    Yeah,like you'll be able to "shut down" corporate America's anything!
    They sit each new incoming president down and tell the president elect a whole bunch of things that almost no one else knows.One of them is "Even YOU can't mess with corporate America.You can talk about us all you want but you had better NEVER try to take away our control of this country or the planet as a whole or you...,let's put it this way.It isn't aliens at area 51!"

    September 18, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  24. Heartlight3, Makawao, Hawaii

    Do you people really think that everyone in that wealthiest 1% worked harder to make that money than the people who are holding down 2 or 3 jobs at minimum wage and still don't make enough to buy health insurance? Many of those CEO's with million dollar bonuses are taxed at a lower rate than their secretaries. What is right about that?

    September 18, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. Erin Schmidtke, Eden Prairie, MN

    I like Senator Obama very much. I like that he's trying to even things out a bit. The wealthiest Americans are the ones who have a moral responsibility to support those less fortunate than themselves. For the richest, a hike in taxes is barely a drop in the bucket compared to their lifestyles now. This is an especially important problem since they already get away with paying a smaller percentage of their income than the middle and lower classes do. Obama has a great chance at becoming president, I think. I just hope he has more plans like this as well as inspirational words.

    September 18, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
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