Opinion

Obamacare’s seven tax hikes on the middle class

Photo of Grover Norquist
Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Bio

      Grover Norquist

      Mr. Norquist, a native of Massachusetts, has been one of Washington's most effective issues management strategists for over two decades.

      Mr. Norquist is president of <a href="http://www.atr.org/">Americans for Tax Reform (ATR)</a>, a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at the federal, state and local levels. ATR organizes the TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. To date, 172 House members, and 34 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 7 governors and over 1100 state legislators have taken the pledge.

      Mr. Norquist also:

      * Serves on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association of America.
      * Serves on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union.
      * Serves as a Contributing Editor to the American Spectator Magazine.
      * Serves as president of the American Society of Competitiveness.
      * Authored the book Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives

      In the past, Mr. Norquist served as:

      * A commissioner on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce.
      * A commissioner on the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service.
      * Economist and chief speech-writer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (1983-1984).
      * Campaign staff on the 1988, 1992, 1996 Republican Platform Committees.
      * Executive director of the National Taxpayers’ Union.
      * Executive director of the College Republicans.

      In the words of Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist is "the person who I regard as the most innovative, creative, courageous and entrepreneurial leader of the anti-tax efforts and of conservative grassroots activism in America . . . He has truly made a difference and truly changed American history."

      P.J. O'Rourke says, "Grover Norquist is Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupcon of Madame Defarge."

      Arianna Huffington calls Norquist "The dark wizard of the Right's anti-tax cult"

      Mr. Norquist holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, both from Harvard University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Samah and his daughters, Grace, and Giselle.

Today marks the second anniversary of the signing of the jobs-killing Obamacare law. That law contains 20 new or higher taxes on American families and small employers. At least seven of these tax increases fall directly on families making less than $250,000 per year. This is a direct violation of candidate Obama’s “firm pledge” against “any form of tax increase” on these families.

Candidate Obama actually got quite specific about this many times. To pick but one episode, he said on September 12, 2008 that: “I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”

Pretty strong language. This was backed up by vice presidential candidate Biden in his debate where he said, “No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama’s plan will see one single penny of their tax raised.”

Once in office, President Obama broke this pledge a mere 16 days into his administration when he signed a tobacco tax hike into law (industry statistics say that the average smoker earns less than $40,000 per year). Undeterred, President Obama repeated the promise in his first address to a joint session of Congress, telling middle class families that their taxes would not go up “one single dime.” Even White House spokesman Robert Gibbs got in on the action on Tax Day 2009 when he said that the president’s oft-repeated tax promise “didn’t come with caveats.”

Then Obamacare hit the president’s desk. In signing that jobs-killing bill into law, he broke his promise to middle income families at least seven times.

The individual mandate has an excise tax for non-compliance of at least 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income. There is no exemption for families making less than $250,000 per year.

The medicine cabinet tax prevents families from using their health savings accounts (HSAs) or workplace flex-savings accounts (FSAs) to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines on a pre-tax basis. There is no exemption for families making less than $250,000 per year.

The “special needs kids” or “braces” tax puts a cap of $2,500 for the first time on FSAs. Prior to Obamacare’s passage, families with very high medical bills could put an IRS-unlimited amount in their FSAs to pay for things like special needs tuition or braces on a pre-tax basis. Obamacare changed all that. There is no exemption for families making less than $250,000 per year.

Obamacare imposes a 20 percent “surtax” on non-medical, early withdrawals from HSAs. This results in a tax rate on these distributions which can easily exceed 60 percent. There is no exemption for families making less than $250,000 per year.

President Obama’s signature law decreases the amount that families can deduct in medical expenses from their taxable income. Under present law, medical expense claims must be reduced by 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Obamacare increases this “haircut” to 10 percent of AGI. There is no exemption for families making less than $250,000 per year.