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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Obama’s Slippery Definition of ‘Wealthy’



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Obama, the Wealthy State Senator Who Struggled With Student Loans

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl looks at Obama’s tales of struggling to pay back his student loans well into adulthood, and finds . . . something doesn’t quite add up.

But according to their tax returns, which are available on the White House website, the Obamas had a healthy, six-figure income by the year 2000 (the earliest return available). And for at least two years before his loans were paid off, Obama, by his own definition, made so much they were wealthy enough to pay higher taxes.

Here’s a rundown of the president’s income, according to his tax returns, in the years before he paid off his student loans:

2004: $207,647

2003: $238,327

2002: $259,394

2001: $272,759

2000: $240,505

In 2001 and 2002, the Obamas would have met the $250,000 standard the president has set for those wealthy enough to afford to pay more taxes.

It’s also notable that the Obamas didn’t claim deductions for student loans on any of those years, most likely because they made too much money to qualify for the student loan deduction.

Then again, being wealthy enough to pay higher taxes under the Obama plan does not mean the Obamas were not struggling for years to pay off their student loans.

Which, of course, is the point: Obama’s definition of “wealthy” under his tax plan is significantly lower than most Americans would consider “wealthy.” A two-earner couple making about $125,000 per year each clearly is doing well, but they may not live the lifestyle associated with “the rich”, particularly if they live in an area with a high cost-of-living. An increasingly common term for this demographic is HENRYs — “High Earners, Not Rich Yet” — and in Obama’s us-vs.-them world, there’s no room for this sort of nuance.


Tags: Barack Obama


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