2007 Democratic Primary Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov.15, 2007: on Social Security


Barack Obama: FactCheck: Removing $97,500 cap would be $1.3T tax increase

Clinton called Obama’s proposal to raise Social Security taxes on earnings over $97,500 per year, the current upper limit on which any tax is levied, a trillion-dollar increase on “middle class families.” Clinton said, “I do not want to fix the problems of Social Security on the backs of middle class families and seniors. If you lift the cap completely, that is a $1 trillion tax increase. I don’t think we need to do that.”

Taxing all earnings would indeed amount to a $1.3 trillion increase over the next 10 years alone, according to estimates by Cato Institute Social Security experts. A similar estimate comes from Citizens for Tax Justice, which figures the measure would bring in $124 billion per year.

Obama defended his proposal by saying it would fall only on the upper class: “Understand that only 6% of Americans make more than $97,000--so 6% is not the middle class--it’s the upper class.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Nov 15, 2007

Hillary Clinton: FactCheck: Yes, removing $97,500 cap affects middle-class

Clinton called Obama’s proposal to raise Social Security taxes on annual earnings over $97,500 “a trillion-dollar increase on middle class families.” Obama defended his proposal: “Only 6% of Americans make more than $97,000--so 6% is not the middle class --it’s the upper class.” Clinton responded that some of her constituents would still find the increase burdensome. “I represent firefighters. I represent school supervisors,” she said.

The base pay of an NYC firefighter is $68,475 after 5 years on the job. So Clinton is being misleading to suggest that a rank-&-file firefighter would be affected. On the other hand, FDNY captains make $140,173 with overtime. For them, Obama’s proposal could amount to a $2,646 tax increase. As for school administrators, in NY state there are few that make less than $100,000 a year.

Obama may be correct to say that only the top 6.5% of earners would be affected. But we judge that Obama is being misleading to say that his proposal would tax only the “upper class.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Nov 15, 2007

  • The above quotations are from 2007 Democratic Primary Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov.15, 2007.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Social Security.
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Candidates and political leaders on Social Security:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.:Sen.Barack Obama
V.P.:Sen.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
Treas.:Tim Geithner
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoC:Bill Richardson
Outgoing Bush Administration:
Pres.:George Bush
V.P.:Dick Cheney
A.G.:John Ashcroft(2005)
DEA:Asa Hutchinson(2005)
USDA:Mike Johanns(2007)
EPA:Mike Leavitt
HUD:Mel Martinez(2003)
State:Colin Powell(2005)
State:Condoleezza Rice
HHS:Tommy Thompson(2005)
2008 Presidential contenders:
AIP: Frank McEnulty
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP VP: Gov.Sarah Palin
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Independent: Ralph Nader
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
NAIP: Amb.Alan Keyes
Socialist: Brian Moore
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