Normally, this would not amount to much, but with Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and their various surrogates having trouble finding the floor for tax cuts, perhaps more trenchant than it otherwise would be. In a 2003 interview while starting his Senate campaign, Obama said that tax cuts should have been targeted no higher than the $70K level:
Well, you know the problem was is that they weren’t targeted at the short term stimulus of the economy. What we should have done is if we were going to initiate tax cuts, and I’m a strong supporter of tax cuts for working families like the Earned Income Tax Credit, to initiate things like cuts in the Social Security tax, and other taxes that are really burdensome on families that are making 50, 60, 70 thousand dollars a year. Those tax cuts I think would have stimulated the economy.
But the money that we’ve given up directly affects Illinois in its potential, in terms of job growth because it means that transportation dollars are not in the state of Illinois, heath care dollars are not in the state of Illinois. There are enormous needs around the state that we could be using that money for.
The EITC reference is interesting. That’s a refundable, rather than a tax cut. It’s basically a redistributive tool, although one with broad bipartisan support. No one ever talks about ending the EITC, or at least not seriously enough to matter. It does reflect Obama’s inclination to rely on refundables rather than actual rate cuts, which reflects on his current tax plans.
Obama’s top end for cuts certainly changed dramatically. If he thought that tax cuts should be limited to $70K in 2003, he hasn’t explained what changed in the following five years to move that to $250K $200K $150K $120K. Obama could have simply changed his mind, but the ambiguity surrounding Democratic talking points in the past few weeks suggests that his commitment to the higher income levels is tenuous at best.