October 23rd, 2008
04:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama change his tax plan just days before the election?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/20/art.obama.fl.gi.jpg caption="Did Obama change his tax plan just before the election? ."]
The Statement
Speaking at a campaign event Wednesday, October 22, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain criticized the tax plan of his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. "And by the way, this week we learned that Senator Obama is concerned that his plan is seen as welfare so he just added a work requirement," McCain said. "Thirteen days to go in the election and he changed his tax plan ... ."

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The Facts
McCain is referring to Obama's proposed universal mortgage credit, which he says is designed to give tax relief to homeowners who don't itemize their taxes. According to his campaign Web site, the credit would give an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners. The McCain campaign criticized this plan because a portion of those homeowners do not work - at least one campaign ad called it "welfare."

At a Tuesday, October 21, discussion with McCain's chief economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, at the Council on Foreign Relations, senior Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee acknowledged the campaign had changed the proposal to cover a "sliver" of non-workers that would have received the credit. "We had ... 98 percent of our money was tied to work," Goolsbee said. "They (the McCain
campaign) started saying, 'Ah ... this is welfare.' So, just so that they would absolutely not be able to say that, we said, 'Fine - for the last 2 percent we'll simply add a work requirement. They tried to seize on the 2-percent sliver that wasn't (tied to work) and say, 'See? They want to give a handout.' "

When questioned by Holtz-Eakin, Goolsbee said he didn't know exactly when the change was made but said he thought it was "about two weeks ago." He later told ABC News that it may have been about a week later - after the McCain campaign's attacks had started - and argued it was a clarification of a policy that was always meant to benefit the working class. On Thursday, October 23,
campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor also said it was assumed at the campaign that the credit was for workers, saying "all of Senator Obama's tax credits only go to workers and they always have."

The Verdict: True.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain
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