More on the 95% Illusion
So when Plouffe reiterated the 95 percent claim, I asked him a simple question aimed at clarifying whether Obama's tax plan was about cutting rates, or merely handing out government checks. "What rates would actually go down"? I asked.
"Middle class people are going to see, systemically, their taxes reduced, and small businesses," Plouffe responded.
"But what rate would go down for lower-income Americans?" I persisted, seeking more information.
"We'll have to get you the exact details on that," Obama's campaign manager told me.
I followed up, recapping the claim he had just made moments ago: "Well, you said that there's going to be a tax cut on 95 percent, so what rate would go down?"
He replied, "I'll have to get you the exact rate differential."
In fairness, politicians long ago began to use the tax code as a tool for crafting social policy rather than merely as a way to raise revenue. Republicans and Democrats alike have abused terms such as "tax credit" and "tax rebate" to make their policy goals more palatable. But Obama is getting away with defining tax cuts so broadly, that future candidates will simply claim any form of increased government spending as a tax cut. Under Obama's logic, higher food stamp allowances and expanded state funding of the arts could be dubbed "food tax credit" and "arts tax credit" respectively, and also qualify.
If Barack Obama can effectively claim that his plan cuts taxes on 95 percent of Americans, then the term "tax cut" has no meaning.