From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The Obama campaign goes after McCain
on health care, painting the Republican's claims on the issue deceptive
and calling an element of his plan "the largest middle class tax
increase in history."
"On health care, John McCain promises a tax credit," an announcer says.
"But here's what he won't tell you. McCain would impose a new tax on
health benefits, taxing your health care for the first time ever. It's
a multi-trillion dollar tax hike -- the largest middle class tax
increase in history. You won't find one word about it on his web site,
but the McCain tax could cost your family thousands. Can you afford it?"
The McCain campaign, of course, contests the validity of the ad and Obama's attacks on the trail today.
Obama is lying to voters," said McCain-Palin spokesman Tucker Bounds.
"It's a bald-faced lie because John McCain will improve the tax code so
that middle class paychecks aren't used to pay government bureaucrats
but instead will pay for the access to health care Americans deserve.
Barack Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, has a
different plan: higher taxes, a trillion dollars in new spending, and a
radical turn toward government-run health care that promises to be as
efficient as a trip to the DMV."
And as the McCain campaign passes along, the largest increase claim "misleads" when Biden uttered it about a week ago, AP reported at the time. The rest is more complicated.
"McCain does propose taxing the health benefits that some 156 million people get through the workplace. That's a major change, because now no income taxes are levied on those benefits, but it's not the whole story. So, as Biden explained, someone who makes $40,000 and gets $12,000 in health insurance benefits would end up paying income taxes on $52,000. But what Biden didn't say was that McCain also proposes to give the insured a new tax break in exchange -- a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and a $5,000 tax credit for families. For most families, that tax credit would for several years be more generous than the current tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance."
But in the same article, the Obama campaign stands behind the statement: "The Obama campaign said it stands by Biden's statements. It said the McCain campaign's own estimate shows that doing away with the tax exclusion would increase taxes about $3.6 trillion over 10 years. However, that estimate does not include the money that McCain gives back through the tax credits. The Obama campaign said those credits weren't counted because they go directly to the insurance company, not the people."
Politifact called a similar earlier ad "Barely True." And goes into the weeds of health-care policy: "The ad reminds viewers -- fairly, in our view -- about the end of the tax exemption, an important part of the overall McCain plan. But then the ad says, "McCain's own Web site said it goes straight to the insurance companies, not to you, leaving you on your own to pay McCain's health insurance tax.
"McCain's Web site does say that, but there's an excellent reason that the credit goes to the insurance companies. It's so people don't blow the tax credit on cigarettes and beer (or whatever else they'd like) instead of health insurance. Under McCain's plan, workers would pay taxes on the health exemption, but they would get $2,500 knocked off their health insurance bill. If workers come out ahead and there's money left over, that would go into a health spending account for them to spend on health-related incidentals."