Obama’s Tax Pledge

Isn’t true if you engage in a lifestyle that most people find icky. You know that pledge that if you make less than $250,000/year you won’t see an increase in your taxes? Yeah, well not if you smoke.

One of President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges on taxes went up in puffs of smoke Wednesday.

The largest increase in tobacco taxes took effect despite Obama’s promise not to raise taxes of any kind on families earning under $250,000 or individuals under $200,000.

This is one tax that disproportionately affects the poor, who are more likely to smoke than the rich.

To be sure, Obama’s tax promises in last year’s campaign were most often made in the context of income taxes. Not always.

“I can make a firm pledge,” he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. “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.” He repeatedly vowed “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.”[emphasis added]

Ho hum, another politician another lie.

The extra money will be used to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children.

It’s for the children? Well okay then.

That represents a step toward achieving another promise, to make sure all kids are covered.

What? He isn’t going to try and claim that such a program will provide an economic stimulus therefore we should spend the money absent any tax increases? And I thought he could do all this without increasing taxes. Didn’t he said, he’d cut waste, fraud and abuse? Oh, wait they always say that. The Obamassiah…just like any other lying politician.

His detailed campaign plan stated that his proposed improvement in health insurance and health technology “is more than covered” by raising taxes on the wealthy alone. It was not based on raising the tobacco tax.

Somebody is not drinking the kool-aid.

“Listen now,” he said in his widely watched nomination acceptance speech, “I will cut taxes—cut taxes—for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.”

Yeah, well that was a lie too, or at least it was a statement with enough weasel words in it so that it doesn’t mean what one’s first impression would be. According to the Tax Policy Center, only about 75.5% of households will get a tax cut under Obama’s plan. And factoring in the new tax on cigarettes that number is likely to be smaller.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Science & Technology, , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. odograph says:

    Well, if he made the political guess that I wouldn’t care about tobacco, he was right.

  2. Brett says:

    Exactly. He may be breaking his word, but I’m having a hard time giving an honest shit about it, Steve.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    So, once again when a Democrat lies the importance of that lie is subject matter rather than the act itself. Honesty is only important if the subject is important. America is really in trouble if that is the attitude. Bush falsely accused of lies is held to a standard this Kenyan pretender isn’t. Tea Party anyone?

  4. Jim Henley says:

    Clearly Jimmy Carter has competition for the title of History’s Greatest Monster.

  5. Loviatar says:

    The stupidity it burns – between the inanity of the post and the idiocy of the first 4 comments I think I lost some brain cells.

    Maybe some Tea will help, hey ZR III, hail and well met good fellow, where is this Tea Party you keep referencing I could do with a spot of tea right now.


    One think though, its kind of sad what the Republicans party and their members have devolved into.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    Whats really sad is what the Democrat party has been, is, began as and always will be.

    Im going to the one in Madison WI, thats were ill be.

  7. Franklin says:

    Hey G.A., maybe they can teach you how to punctuate while you’re there.

    Anyway, my question is this: Would you folks rather have a tax on tobacco, or on capital gains? IIRC, Verdon frequently mentions that you don’t want to raise taxes on things that you want people to do. So do you want people to smoke, or to invest?

    Of course I agree that the pledge was a political shading of the truth, or a lie as we normal people like to call it. Oh, no, it was so bad that we’ve got the old “Obamessiah” insult – wow! Verdon has become a bit shrill lately, much like Benen over at the Carpetbagger but in the opposite direction. Calm down, guys, and I may listen to what you say more closely.

  8. Brett says:

    Verdon’s always been a bit shrill when he’s in Lolbertarian Mode, but my basic point is that there are lies and then there are Lies. In Obama’s case, I think it’s ameliorated because most of the population probably thought that he was referring to income taxes when he made that pledge (which is a stretch, of course, but that’s campaign rhetoric for you), and because there are positive consequences of a higher cigarette tax (it encourages people to quit).

  9. Dustin says:

    I’ve seen this story on other blogs this week, and I must admit, I am disappointed to see it show up on this blog, as serious issue.

  10. John Burgess says:

    (it encourages people to quit)

    It encourages other people to go buy a gun and start looking for targets.

  11. hcantrall says:

    One can become an ex-smoker anytime they choose. Of course it’s a terribly hard habit to break, but I did it 6 years ago and if I hadn’t then, $10 packs would definitely make me now.

  12. just me says:

    Well I also imagine that the poor probably don’t see this tax increase as a lie-they will probably complain about the rise in cost, but they won’t lay it at Obama’s feet either.

    This is one of those lies that works-because too many people think pledges to not make taxes go up apply only to income taxes. Sin and gas taxes are always fair game, but these are the kinds of taxes that probably disproportionately affect the poor and working poor the most.

  13. just me says:

    One can become an ex-smoker anytime they choose. Of course it’s a terribly hard habit to break, but I did it 6 years ago and if I hadn’t then, $10 packs would definitely make me now.

    Actually this is a good point. Some people probably will quit. Which means, if they are estimating an increase in tax income from the raising of this tax, and a lot of people quit and balk at $10 a pack costs, then the intended purpose of the tax-to fund health care-means fewer dollars to spend, but the need for healthcare isn’t going to go down.

  14. Eric says:

    So, once again when a Democrat lies the importance of that lie is subject matter rather than the act itself. Honesty is only important if the subject is important. America is really in trouble if that is the attitude. Bush falsely accused of lies is held to a standard this Kenyan pretender isn’t. Tea Party anyone?

    LOL. I love Zelsy’s indignant tone here. He is totally outraged over this “lie” about raising taxes, looking sneeringly down his nose at those outrageous lying liar Democrats. But that little matter of the justifications for the Iraq War, well not a peep about those lies–in fact, I’ll bet Zelsy doesn’t even think they were lies.

    More faux outrage from nutjob righties. By the way, Zelsy, maybe you and your rightwing loon buddies should bone up on just what the Boston Tea Party was all about before you start appropriating the name for your little reactionary get-togethers.

  15. Boyd says:

    Regarding the huge increase in cigarette taxes: black market, anyone?

  16. Tlaloc says:

    I wouldn’t honsetly consider a tax on something entirely voluntary as “raising taxes on people” for the simple reason that they do not have to buy the object and thus be subject to the tax, It is, as already mentioned, completely voluntary.

    Contrast a cigarette tax with say income tax, property tax, sales tax, etc. While a person might live without income, property, or ever buying anything it would be very difficult. We might regard those as fundamental taxes that for general purposes are involuntary.

  17. Our Paul says:

    In yesterday’s dust up James Joiner offered some red meat to red blood Americans by posting on Obama’s bow to the Saudi King. It was a variation of the old shell game, keep your eyes on a trivial, and you do not have to examine any of the President’s accomplishments, or their implications. I thought it was kind of scraping the barrel — anything to distract from how President Obama, 3 months after his election, was establishing himself as a world leader…

    Today, Steve Verdon scraper in hand, joins James at the bottom of the barrel. Keep your eyes on the (gasp) increase in tobacco taxes, and ignore any benefits such an approach may provide. And if you are skilled enough at moving those shells around, you do not have to mention that opposition to this approach exists in the Senate. The bill has not even been passed for Presidential signing!!!

    Sigh, Obama must truly be a dangerous man if this is the best they can come up with.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m more or less indifferent to excise taxes on cigarettes.

    However, there’s another point that doesn’t seem to be getting any attention. If you put more money into children’s healthcare, will that result in more or less healthcare for children?

    Remember that the supply of healthcare, particularly primary care, is relatively inelastic. The quantity tends not to expand when more money is spent. That means that we’ll be spending more for the same total amount of healthcare. And we’ll be raising the base pay for pediatricians and pediatric nurses (both of whom make a couple of multiples of median income) without raising them enough to attract practitioners from other specialties.

  19. Bithead says:

    so, wait, now.
    We are to understand that rasing taxes slows an activity. pondor this in light of our own slower than desireable economy, and the obvious plans to raise taxes to pay for all this deficiet spending The One has saddled us with.

    – from the palm treo

  20. Our Paul says:

    Dave Schuler (April 5, 2009 | 08:10 am ) In today’s post by James Joiner titled Robert Reich — It’s a Depressions I posted a recent working paper in the thread by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development centering on Health Care Reform in the United States. The paper is in HTML to allow abstraction of data, but a link at the top of the page will allow conversion to PDF form.

    This paper is not for rookies. It is loaded with data, and well worth your read. Despite me occasional cheap shots, I do ponder and at times puzzle over you posts.