Fuzzy math

As reported at NRO, here’s how Obama proposes to “pay” for his half-trillion stimulus: raising taxes. Here’s the fuzzy math:

  • $400 billion by limiting itemized deductions, including the one for charitable giving, for individuals earning more than $200,000 a year ($250,000 for couples).
  • $40 billion by eliminating tax breaks for oil-and-gas companies.
  • $18 billion by taxing “carried interest” income (common among hedge fund managers) as regular income as opposed to capital gains, which are taxed at a much lower rate.
  • $3 billion by adjusting the depreciation rate on corporate jets.

These estimates, mind you, are for a decade of increased taxation. So, more borrowing today will be “paid for” within ten years. Or maybe not. From NRO, a reality check:

Regarding the disparity between the $400 billion (over a decade) the White House now claims it can raise by limiting deductions on wealthy earners and the $318 billion figure used in 2009, it turns out that both the Office of Management and Budget and the Joint Committee on Taxation have already weighed in on the issue this year. OMB estimated that limiting certain tax deductions would bring in just $321 billion in new revenue (over 10 years), while JCT put the figure at $293 billion. So where, exactly, does the White House get this extra $80-100 billion? As Obama himself said: “This is simple math.” (emphasis added)

Getting past this math is anything but “simple.” It’s rather fuzzy. Somebody’s lying, or unable to add. Or both.


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