Obama has campaigned on a promise to reverse the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while protecting tax cuts for poor and middle class families. He favors a return to the 39 percent income tax bracket for the highest earners -- including himself and O’Reilly, he said.
“You can afford that. That’s point number one,” Obama told O’Reilly. In exchange, Obama said he would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans.
“If I am sitting pretty, and you’ve got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can’t -- what’s the big deal for me to say, ‘I’m going to pay a little bit more.’ That is neighborliness,” Obama said.
‘Robin Hood Obama’
“You’re a big ‘tax the rich’ guy,” O’Reilly told the Democratic presidential candidate.
O’Reilly called the senator “Robin Hood Obama,” and reminded him that taking money away from high-earners and giving it to low earners is income redistribution. “It’s a socialist tenet,” O’Reilly said.
Even President Teddy Roosevelt supported a progressive income tax, Obama responded. (“Not at the level you do,” O’Reilly retorted.)
“I don’t like paying taxes. What, you think I like writing a check?” Obama said.
“What I believe is, is that there are certain things we have to do. We’ve got to help people who are having tough times affording college, so they can benefit like we benefited from this great country. People who are having a tough time -- they don’t have health care; people who are trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills…”
Obama also mentioned the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. “At a certain point, we have to pay for it,” he said.
In his interview with O’Reilly, Obama did not say where he would cap payroll taxes. (His Web site says he would ask people earning over $250,000 to contribute “a bit more” -- 2 to 4 percent more, he says -- to Social Security to keep it sound.)
Obama told O’Reilly he does not plan to raise corporate taxes. And he agreed that a “prohibitive” capital gains tax rate would inhibit investment. He mentioned raising the capital gains tax rate to 20 percent.
According to his campaign Web site, “Obama will create a new ‘Making Work Pay’ tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The ‘Making Work Pay’ tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.”
He also promises to eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000. He is pushing a $4,000 annual tuition tax credit for college students. And he says he will “dramatically simplify” tax filings so that millions of middle class Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.