We have to stop pretending that all cuts are equivalent or that all tax increases are the same. Ending corporate subsidies is one thing; reducing health-care benefits to poor children is something else. At a time when ordinary families are feeling hit from all sides, the impulse to keep their taxes as low as possible is honorable. What is less honorable is the willingness of the rich to ride this anti-tax sentiment for their own purposes.From Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, 2006, pp. 191-2.
Nowhere has this confusion been more evident than in the debate surrounding the proposed repeal of the estate tax. As currently structured, a husband and wife can pass on $4 million without paying any estate tax. In 2009, this figure goes up to $7 million. The tax thus affects only the wealthiest one-third of 1% in 2009. Repealing the estate tax would cost $1 trillion, and it would be hard to find a tax cut that was less responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans or the long-term interests of the country.
In the Senate, Barack Obama has consistently voted against repealing or reducing most taxes, including the estate tax, and in favor of increasing most taxes, including the estate tax. Senator Obama, for example, voted no on increasing the estate tax exemption to $5 million and reducing the maximum estate tax rate to 35%, voted no on extending the sunset of the Bush estate tax and GST tax exemption increases (which lower the number of families affected by the estate tax), and voted no on permanently repealing what those who oppose it usually refer to as the death tax.
Source: OnTheIssues.Org: Barack Obama on Tax Reform
The conservative Club for Growth, which favors repeal of the estate tax, rated Obama's voting record 7 out of 100 for 2006 for pro-growth economic policies, and most liberal Senator overall for 2007 by the National Journal.
John McCain, Republican for President, on the Estate Tax
Hillary Clinton, Democrat for President, on the Estate Tax
Barack Obama Offical Site: Fiscal Issues
October 2008 update: Obama opposes repeal of the estate tax and supports repeal of, or allowing the expiration of in 2010, the Bush (estate and income) tax cuts. He supports one-time or short-term tax rebates for most individual taxpayers (and many filers who don't earn enough to pay federal income tax and pay only payroll taxes) and overall higher estate, payroll, income, and corporate taxes over the longer term.
In response to a question about raising taxes, Obama said that he intends to "spread the wealth around."
January 2009 post-election update: President-Elect Obama's Big Tax Plan by Bill Bischoff, SmartMoney's "Tax Guy":
$300 billion in tax cuts are probably on the way -- and soon.February 2009 post-election update: Obama's Budget: Almost $1 Trillion in New Taxes Over Next 10 yrs, Starting 2011:
Right after the election, I was virtually certain that upper-income individuals would face higher federal income tax bills as early as this year. And I didn’t see anything very good on the business tax horizon, either. But after two more months of horrifying economic data, it’s a whole new ball game.
Now, President-elect Obama is proposing a $775 billion economic stimulus package that does not appear to impose higher taxes on anybody or anything for 2009. Instead, it looks like we will immediately see some of the "middle-class tax cuts" Obama promised, plus some unanticipated business breaks too. All in all, these tax cuts could add up to $300 billion (or more) over the next two years....
President Obama's budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.ABC News, February 26, 2009.