September 18th, 2007
05:50 PM ET
13 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. demwit

    Robinhood is a myth, just like Obama's tax plan and Presidency.

    September 19, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Lee

    "Some would call it" ??? No, that's what CNN is calling it. Thanks for the editorializing.

    September 19, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    Posted By Bill W, Coatesville, PA : September 19, 2007 12:43 pm

    I'm glad you were fortunate to be able to afford private school – most can't.

    I'm not old enough to retire either and probably won't count on SS for retirement but I'm glad SS is helping my mother and a couple of my other elderly relatives.

    I pay those taxes too – and I use the roads and highways to get to work. Don't you?

    I live in a city, and while I have public transportation available to me, I walk or, if going distances, drive. But I understand that not everyone has access to a car and must rely on public transportation.

    My taxes pay for school too. And even if I didn't have a child, I wouldn't mind as I believe all children have access to an education. I'm sorry you feel differently.

    It warms my heart that this country is SO not selfish and truly looks out for one another ... oops, my bad. I must have been dreaming.

    September 19, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. CH Springfield, Missouri

    I have to concur with the above posters on this, CNN has become very bad about editorializing through the choices it makes in headline titles, graphic overlays, and how it chooses to word items on the broadcast "news ticker" crawl. Furthermore, the shift from fact checking to punditry in modern American journalism has really done nothing but convolute the issues we face as a society so badly that I do not think anybody (conservative or liberal) could ever formulate an informed opinion on anything other than who to vote for on American Idol.

    September 19, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Ringo, Earth

    Do you know that the personal savings rate is lower than at any time since before the Great Depression and that wages and salaries are at the lowest share of gross domestic product since 1929? Do you realize that a two-income family today has less disposable income than a one-income family had 30 years ago, and that the stressed-out American people are now forced to work the longest hours of any people in the industrialized world? Millions of workers in our country don’t have any vacation time at all.
    Since 2001, the richest 1 percent of Americans haven’t had it so good since the 1920s. According to the latest data, from 2001 to 2005, the top 1 percent of households gained $283 billion of total income—$183,902 per household. Yes, the economy is doing very well for them. On the other hand, the bottom 90 percent lost $272 billion or $2,071 per household.

    September 19, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. James, Phoenix AZ

    Donna – Clovis,

    Writes, "Bush the Socialist has been taking from the poor and giving to the rich, this will be a nice reversal of fortune now won't it."

    Donna – PLEASE demonstrate how Bush has stolen from the poor and given to the rich?

    Every government or watchdog-type website dedicated to tracking taxes CLEARLY shows the American "Bills" are being paid by the wealthy – BIG TIME.

    The Hoover Institution has tracked and reported the following:

    1) In 1980, the individual income tax share paid by the top 1 percent of income earners was 17 percent. By 2004, the tax share for this same group had more than doubled, to 37 percent.

    2) The share of income tax paid by the top 5 percent and top 10 percent of income earners has also increased during the same time period.

    3) The top 10 percent of income earners earned 39 percent of the pretax income, they paid 71 percent of individual income taxes.

    By all means – don't let FACTS detract from you message (Bush stealing from the poor to give to the rich).

    Ever notice... the vast majority of the people angry with the "wealthy" are those that don't learn the FACTS of their argument and often are liberals?

    September 19, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    "If you're unhappy with things in the middle class, make something out of yourself and you won't have to depend on government to manage your life for you. Otherwise, just quit complaining."

    Geez. How simplisitic. Like anybody can just snap their fingers and be a millionaire.

    The complant is that the middle class IS working hard – harder than ever. Please see the above posting comparing a 2 income family of today to a one income family of 30 years ago. But the middle class is not getting ahead.

    Jobs being outsourced, foreign visa workers, illegal immigrants, CEOs getting millions and the average guy loses his job. Housing unaffordable, price of gas through the roof.

    And Bush told everybody on TV awhile back that the answer was more education – people needed to go to college. At a time when people with MASTER'S DEGREES can't get entry level IT jobs.

    Oh, and if you want to try to "make something of yourself", don't forget that Bush changed Bankruptcy laws so that of you fail – your debt i snot forgiven. You stil lhave to pay it back. Even though he bankrupted how many businesses? And now the country?

    September 19, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. LP

    It is interesting to note that (on average) due to tax cuts, loopholes, corporate welfare, and other forms of fiscal dishonesty, the wealthiest 1% of Americans actually pay less taxes than the poorest percentage of Americans.
    A progressive income tax (like Mr. Obama's) is a much more practical, ethical, and fiscally sound form of taxation because it does not deny the wealthy the right to be wealthy (25% tax of a billionaires salary still leaves the billionaire with an obscene amount of money) and it does not put pressure on the poor.

    You can read more about progressive income tax and American corporativism on my blog,

    September 19, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I just hacked the DNC website – and found they are broadcasting radio signals that can only be heard by the blind followers – they are instructing them how to turn any forum into a Bush bashing debate(seems to be working) – anyway – the classic "punish the rich" mantra is getting really old – we are a capitalist society – you don't "punish the dream" – Democrats – you only charge your "disenfranchised" base – the rest of the literate people will dismiss your well... rhetoric....years ago – Steve Forbes proposed a flat deductions – no loopholes...and really simple tax code – "you pay 20%" – if you make 13K a year – or 130K – you pay 20% – it was so simple...even a Democrat could follow doesn't give them the satisfaction of "taking from those evil rich" – you are a sad group – although...I am still looking at Obama...he is the best of the Dems pack

    September 19, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Sean, NYC, NY

    Awesome! Now I'll just stay at the bottom if the rich will just give it to me. YAY, I'm so happy to be a moocher!

    I don't have to work at all, the government will just steal the money from rich people who worked hard and earned it!

    Please OBAMA, if you're president, ALSO RAISE THE CAPITAL GAINS TAX. This way I'll never invest, and I can sit on the bottom of the social hierarchy.

    September 19, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Debbie, San Antonio, Tx

    What this comment ignores is that the poor also have to work hard but because they have not been given the same opportunities, have not had the same education that the wealthy can afford, they may lack not only the wealth but also an understanding of how to keep and accumulate wealth.

    ARe you kidding Ashley from Calif. (what can you expect?) The poor have ALL of the opportunities to get an education. My son didn't get a dime for college, and not because I am rich, oh no. I am educated, I have a job, I own a home, and I have a husband! So guess what Ashley, I don't qualify for anything because somebody thinks I can well afford to send my kids to college and YOURS TOO. I am a school councelor so I KNOW who gets the funds for college, and it isn't the working folk!

    September 19, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. Donald Gordon, Ontario,CA

    I really like Obama's plan, it gives a tax cut to those of us who could really use a little extra money. To those of you who say that the people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder should just work harder, I really resent that. Though some of the poor people are pretty lazy, most of us DO work really hard for what we can get. Just ask anyone who has to get a second (or third) job, or bust their behind 55 to 60 hours a week(like my father), just to feed their family and pay the rent.

    Also to Henry Tucker in GA, your statement that the top 10% pay 67% of the taxes sound unfair on the surface, you must also take into account that that same 10 percent also makes about 90% of the money (or more, I don't know the exact figure). Paying 67% of the money doesn't seem too bad when they have 90% of the money, does it?

    September 19, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. KD, Dallas, TX

    In response to this:

    There's a reason you're poor. It's because you aren't too smart, you don't actually work hard, or any number of other reasons that aren't the fault of the government. Nothing will change that. Stop looking for a handout and work harder.

    Posted By Mike Manning (US Army Stationed Overseas) : September 19, 2007 4:01 am

    I am not poor, but can certainly relate to what some go through. I came from nothing, worked my own way through school with some support of scholarships, grants and loans. I have a master's degree, am in Mensa with a 155 IQ. Not everyone who is poor falls into your defined group. Thanks to hard work I have been able to do something with my life. It wasn't easy because I did it all as a single parent, recently divorced, with a dead beat ex, no child support. I believe that I did succeed due to much hard work, but I wouldn't have been able to without specific programs that were in place. I do quite well financially and give to others; as I beleive in the pay it forward mentality. I don't believe in greed and selfishness. It's what corrupts our country and devalues our population.

    I respect what the military does for us, but the high tax rate I pay is what helps support it. I am an employee in public education; a path I chose so I could help others strive for their best. Needless to say, it's a path that does not pay what corporate America is used to earning.

    September 19, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. allen karpinski

    since this is over oil make bushes buddies pay for this war after all the are the ones with the tax breaks

    September 19, 2007 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. Henry Tucker, Ga

    "Also to Henry Tucker in GA, your statement that the top 10% pay 67% of the taxes sound unfair on the surface, you must also take into account that that same 10 percent also makes about 90% of the money (or more, I don't know the exact figure). Paying 67% of the money doesn't seem too bad when they have 90% of the money, does it?"

    Actually Donald, the top 10% accounts for 40% of the total earnings in the country:

    Total reported income: $7,428 Billion

    Top 10% income: $2,982 Billion

    $50,000 and less income: $2,074 Billion

    Top 10% paid $587 Billion in taxes (67%)
    $50k or less paid $67 Billion in taxes (7.5%)

    Those are the facts released by the Joint Committee on Taxaction (US Govt)

    September 19, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. JIm, Durham NC

    Class warfare, plain and simple. So much for uniting us.

    September 20, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. LP

    I still don't think you all understand. This isn't "stealing" from the rich, and this does not deny anyone the right to be rich. (What can you do with $90 billion that you can't do with $50 billion?) Keep in mind also how many wealthy people use their money: to buy politicians. This practice, aside from shrinking the income-gap, might also effectively reduce political corruption.

    Also, shouldn't wealthy people contribute some of their income to the country that made them wealthy?

    October 9, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    I'm tired of reading about the "rich" not paying their share. I worked my way through grad school as a single mother juggling jobs round the clock to get to where I am. I don't make my money through capital gains – I make it through long, hard hours. I also pay 45% of my income in state and federal taxes, and my checks to the IRS wind up being higher than anyone I know. Maybe there are some wealthy people out there taking tax shelters, but I'm not one of them, and I don't think it's fair to make me shoulder even more of the burden. Why is it that these tax estimates of how much people pay are always based on the dishonest rich? What about us hard working "rich" who actually pay our fair share? If Obama wants to eliminate loopholes by which "rich" people are avoiding paying taxes, I'm fine with that, but do that before coming back to those of us who have been shouldering more than our share for many years.

    October 17, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  19. LP

    No no, see, you are rich, but you are not *wealthy*. I agree, someone like you has every right to be wealthy. However, super-rich individuals (for example, those who own the major news networks) use their wealth for political purposes. It's one thing if a doctor is making a typical doctor salary or a lawyer is making a typical lawyer salary. But when 1% of the nation has over 40% of the wealth the inequality creates a greater social problem that affects all of us and ultimately undermines the very thing which hard-working people stand for.

    October 22, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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