Obama Favors Raising Taxes on Veterans

August 26, 2008

Is this headline accurate? Technically, yes. Sen. Barack Obama wants to raise taxes on high-income Americans, some fraction of whom are veterans. But this headline is also misleading because Barack Obama does not single out veterans for tax increases. I could have also said that he favors raising taxes on people who give to homeless shelters or that he favors tax cuts for convicted felons, and those statements would have been technically true as well, although misleading.

But this type of misleading advertising is currently at work in Barack Obama's ad against John McCain's proposal to cut the corporate income tax. Obama and his surrogates constantly quote the fact that McCain's tax plan would cut taxes for Exxon Mobil. That's true, but misleading. His plan is to cut the corporate income tax rate across the board, thereby lowering taxes for all corporations that had a positive income tax liability, thereby leading to higher returns for shareholders and, in the long run, higher wages for workers (ignoring the adverse effects on capital from higher deficits).

Obama has also labeled these corporations "wealthy," which is ridiculous because no corporation is wealthy. Some of its shareholders may be wealthy, but then again, some aren't. A corporation is merely owned by people, whose wealth includes their ownership of that corporation's assets. But I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone. Rhetoric that sounds good yet makes little sense if you think about it for more than 10 seconds is championed in presidential politics. One need look no further than the current White House for empty soundbites.

Now Obama isn't the only one in this campaign to put forth misleading information on tax policy. McCain has almost clinched the gold in that event, as we've documented here, here, here, and here. But Obama appears destined to post a strong silver showing.

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