Obama and Taxes

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Peter Suderman calls out President Obama as a tax cheat today. “If you make less than a quarter of a million dollars a year,” Obama said on the campaign trail, “you will not see a single dime of your taxes go up.” But according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay nearly $4 billion more in taxes in 2019 thanks to a change in the medical expense deduction mandated by the recently passed healthcare reform bill. J’accuse!

Well, maybe. But I need some help here. When Obama made his campaign pledge, he was talking about his comprehensive tax plan. He wasn’t promising that no bill he ever signed would ever raise taxes in any way for the under-$200,000 crowd, was he?

I’d like to set the record straight on this because it keeps coming up over and over and over. It came up in the context of an increase in cigarette taxes. It came up in the context of cap-and-trade. Now it’s come up in the context of the healthcare bill — which has other tax increases that would hit middle class families too. (Why do you think unions were opposed to the excise tax?) So: did Obama promise to never raise taxes in any context for any purpose for all time for everyone making less than $200,000? Or was it always just in the context of his specific campaign tax plan?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend