I'm all for cutting taxes, and I'm all for making it easier on hardworking, middle-class Americans. But there are some major-league rubs in Sen. Barack Obama's plan.
The first question with Democrats is always, how do they define middle class? For Obama, it seems to be families making up to $75,000 per year. A family of four living on that much money in Fallon, Nev., would qualify as upper middle class if not, in some circles, as upper class. But a family of four trying to live on that amount of money in Manhattan or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Chicago would not be making it, period. In other words, Democrats' definitions of "middle class" must be thoroughly examined and radically altered to be brought into reality.
Second, Obama's plan does nothing to change the main tax plague of the American middle class, which is the alternative minimum tax. There was talk in Congress last year of eliminating it, but that never came to pass. Eliminating the AMT is the only way to truly help the growing number of middle-class Americans whose taxes go up astronomically as a result of the AMT.
According to the Urban Institute, it is a financial albatross on some 23 million to 24 million Americans.
As to HillaryCare, part of her grand plan to give all Americans access to healthcare includes an expansion of federal regulations on health insurers and mandates on large companies to provide insurance coverage or pay higher taxes. Conservatives believe these regulations would raise the cost of private insurance higher and that in turn would harm Americans who are personally responsible enough to provide coverage for themselves and their families.
Sen. Hillary Clinton's plan also, according to Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, increases dependency on already overburdened federal programs including Medicare, the State Children's Health Insurance Program for poor children, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.
All this means higher taxes for guess who? You and me. And what other commentators won't tell you but I will is that the more we boost government benefits, the more we lure illegal immigrants into this country. Think about it: free healthcare in addition to free public school for kids. Why wouldn't the numbers increase?
Between the two, I think Obama is headed in the better direction. But he needs to revamp and expand his tax cut plan.
By Bonnie Erbe