Election 2008

Obama Adviser Explains Tax Plan, Rips Palin

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Anita Dunn, senior adviser and chief communications officer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, talks about Sen. Obama's tax plans for people who make between $200,000 and $250,000. She also talks about why the campaign has just released an ad taking on John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for vice president.


Now, to the Obama campaign. Anita Dunn is senior adviser and chief communications officer for the campaign. She's at the campaign's Chicago headquarters. Welcome to the program.

Ms. ANITA DUNN (Senior Adviser and Chief Communications Officer, Obama Presidential Campaign): Hi, Robert. Thank you for having me on.

SIEGEL: I want to ask you about taxes and what Senator Obama said to Joe the Plumber. Last night, Senator Obama said in his television show that there'll be tax cuts for everyone who makes $200,000 or less, and tax increases only for those who make over $250,000. And I've checked the transcripts. He said that in all of the debates as well.

Ms. DUNN: Mm hmm. It's not the first time he said that, Robert.

SIEGEL: Yeah. But when he spoke to Joe the Plumber, he said, and I quote, "95 percent of folks who are making less than 250,000, they're being taxed at a higher rate than they would under my plan." Did he misspeak in that much videoed and much-viewed exchange with the man we called Joe the Plumber?

Ms. DUNN: No, he's saying those people are currently paying higher taxes than they would if his plan was passed. The fact of the matter is that, under Senator Obama's plan, most of the people who make less than $250,000 would get some form of a tax cut. Everybody under $200,000 would get some form of a tax cut.

And the difference between Senator Obama's plan and Senator McCain's plan is very clear. Senator McCain would like to give more tax cuts, but he'd like to give more tax cuts to the people who've gotten them to the past eight years, the people at the highest level and to corporations, and that's a real difference here. Senator Obama has never made any secret of the fact that he believes that people at the highest ends of income should be paying a little more right now, at a time when our country faces great challenges.

SIEGEL: But would people who make between 200,000 and 250,000 get a tax cut or not, and has Senator Obama, perhaps in view of fiscal realities, recalculated the taxes?

Ms. DUNN: No. No, the confusion here is that there might be some people, depending on their individual circumstances, who would get a tax cut, but they would not get a tax increase. No one who makes under $250,000 would have their taxes increased under Barack Obama's plan. Most people would get some form of a tax cut. And people who make under $200,000, middle-class families, would get more of a tax cut under Barack Obama's plan than under John McCain's plan. Some studies say as much as three times as much middle-class tax relief.

SIEGEL: Another subject, there's a new Obama campaign commercial that takes on Senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin. It's a silent ad, so we really can't play it for people. It quotes Senator McCain talking about how he would need a vice president who would help him with economic policy and then says his choice, and there's a picture of Governor Palin winking. That seems to be a shift for Senator Obama, who has typically had only respectful words about the governor of Alaska. Why? Why is he now going after that choice?

Ms. DUNN: Well, here in the final stages of the campaign, when people are looking carefully at and really thinking about what the choice is, particularly undecided voters, it's important for them to think about what the candidates have said and whether those candidates have kept their word. And we think that the decision that John McCain made for his number two, compared to the decision that Senator Obama made in choosing Joe Biden, is something voters should take into account.

And increasingly, we're seeing that they are taking that into account. It's a valid issue. It's not an attack on Sarah Palin. It's simply saying, you know, compare the two candidates on this important choice, and compare Sarah Palin against what John McCain said was his standard for a running mate.

SIEGEL: Does Senator Obama regard Governor Palin as unqualified for national office?

Ms. DUNN: No, Senator Obama has been very clear that he thinks voters should make that choice.

SIEGEL: Well, Anita Dunn of the Obama campaign, thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. DUNN: Thank you for having me, Robert.

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