Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Libertarians remind Obama of his “firm pledge” not to tax health care benefits

America’s third largest party Tuesday reminded President Barack Obama that supporting a proposed $246 billion tax on employer-provided health care benefits – a proposal he opposed as “the biggest middle-class tax increase in history” in campaign ads – would break his promise to oppose any form of tax increase on families making less than $250,000 a year.

“In September of 2008, candidate Barack Obama asked Americans to read his lips and that he would oppose any tax increase whatsoever on families making less than $250,000 a year, or any proposal to tax employer-provided health care benefits” said Donny Ferguson, Libertarian National Committee Communications Director. “Now President Obama is prepared to once again break that tax promise by considering a new tax on health benefits, which he admitted last year would be ‘the largest middle-class tax increase in history.’”

Obama has already embraced tax hikes on the middle class through his $1.9 trillion “cap and trade” energy tax and new tobacco taxes and is now considering a proposed European-style “value-added” national sales tax. According to The New York Times, the Congressional Budget Office finds including health benefits in taxable income could mean $246 billion in additional revenue for a single year.

In a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week, hosted by former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos, White House adviser David Axelrod admitted Obama was considering supporting new taxes on families’ employer-provided benefits. Obama attacked the idea as “the largest middle-class tax increase in history” when it was proposed by Senator John McCain during the 2008 campaign.

“I can make a firm pledge,” then-candidate Obama told a Dover, N.H. crowd, on Sept. 12, 2008. “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

The Obama campaign repeated the pledge at other forums. “No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised,” vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden said in the Oct. 2, 2008 vice-presidential debate, “whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax.”

“Libertarians unequivocally oppose any tax on employer-provided health benefits, and we’ll hold accountable any candidate who supports such a tax hike on families,” said Ferguson. “Once again, the Libertarian Party is the only party standing up for working families. Our health care system needs reform, but massive tax hikes and Obama’s proposed government takeover would simply take the worst aspects of the current system and magnify them.”

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