One year ago, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and restated his central campaign promise: “If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.”
But on Monday, the White House unveiled a health care plan with a net tax hike of at least $700 billion over the next ten years. Not only does the plan increase taxes more than the House and Senate bills already roundly rejected by the public, several of the tax hikes in the plan violate Obama’s tax pledge. Let’s look at a few examples:
Individual mandate excise tax: The White House gets creative with its terminology here, preferring to call this tax a “payment” or an “assessment.” This provision would require all Americans to purchase health insurance – as a condition of lawful existence – or pay an excise tax.
This tax was also a pillar of the House and Senate health bills, both endorsed by the White House. In a famous exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last September, Obama refused to admit that the tax was actually a tax, forcing Stephanopoulos to read aloud the dictionary definition of the word “tax” to the President.
Employer mandate tax: If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax for all full-time employees. This would apply to all employers with 50 or more employees. Small business owners pay their taxes on their owners’ 1040 forms, and there is no exemption for employers making less than $250,000.
Special needs kids tax: This provision caps pre-tax Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contributions at $2,500 per year – currently, these accounts are unlimited. There are 30 million American families using FSAs for everything from deductibles to eyeglasses, but hardest hit would be families with special needs children. These families often rely on their FSA for special needs education, which can cost thousands of dollars per year.
“Haircut” for medical itemized deductions: Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction if the total cost of the expenses reduces the filer’s income by 7.5 percent. The new White House provision would raise that threshold to 10 percent.
Excise tax on indoor tanning services: Leaving no stone unturned in its hunt for revenue, the White House adopted the Senate’s “tanning bed tax”. Those using indoor tanning services will be hit with a 10 percent excise tax.
None of the provisions above include exemptions for families making less than $250,000.
Take a look at the plan yourself at the White House Web site, then click over to Obama’s Change.gov site. Under the “Taxes” category, it still reads as follows: “no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase.”
Somebody has some explaining to do.
John Kartch is director of communications for Americans for Tax Reform and a Fox Forum contributor.