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Barack Obama thinks higher taxes are a good thing

March 27, 2008 |  9:54 pm

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama went after the "We're not paying enough taxes to the government" vote today during a television interview in New York.

First, he said the Bush tax cuts ought to die. He likes that top marginal rate of 39%. Although the non-partisan National Journal recently declared him the most liberal of the 100 senators, Obama denied being a "wild-eyed liberal," which wasn't what the Journal called him, but it sounds good on TV where everything moves by so quickly.

Maria Bartiromo on CNBC's "Closing Bell" asked, "Who should pay more and who should pay less?" Predictably, the politician chose to talk about who would benefit from his higher tax plan, not who would get socked the hardest. But from his answers it sounds like the "wealthy" in his mind are those making more than $75,000.

"I would not increase taxes for middle class Americans and in fact I want to....

provide a tax cut for people who are making $75,000 a year or less,'' he said. "For those folks, I want an offset on the payroll tax that would be worth as much as $1,000 for a family.

"Senior citizens who are bringing in less than $50,000 a year in income, I don't want them to have to pay income tax on their Social Security. And as part of my overall approach to housing, I actually want to provide an additional 10% mortgage deduction, a credit, mortgage interest credit, for those who currently don't itemize."

"Why raise taxes at all in an economic slowdown?'' Bartiromo asked. "Isn't that going to put a further strain on people?"

"Well, look," said Obama, "there's no doubt that anything I do is going to be premised on what the economic situation is when I take office.''

Obama said, "I'm going to be sworn in in January -- we don't know what the economy's going to look like at that point."

He was asked about the liberal tag. "I believe in capitalism and I want to do what works,'' the senator replied. " But what I want to make sure of is it works for all America and not just a small sliver of America."

"Obama’s completely disingenuous dodge on whether he would raise taxes during a time of economic slowdown is belied by his vote earlier this month," said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "Obama’s claims to the contrary, his votes to raise taxes on people earning as little as $31,850 are straight from the Democrats’ tax-and-spend playbook."

-- Andrew Malcolm and Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau.

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