American Morning

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June 29th, 2009
06:05 AM ET

Feeling over-taxed?

Editor's Note: CNN’s Carol Costello reports on hot topics stirring debate across the country. Just Sayin’ aims to be provocative and encourage thoughtful discussion. Join the conversation.

September 12, 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama made this pledge:

"No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

But, what's up with this?

February 5, 2009, President Barack Obama signed a health insurance bill for children funded almost entirely by boosting the federal tax on cigarettes by nearly 300 percent.

And this:

June 24, 2009, the president said he'd be open to the idea of taxing employee health care benefits.

Does this mean that President Obama has changed his mind?

Not necessarily. He did give middle-class Americans a break by making the Bush tax cuts permanent and by distributing millions in tax credits.

So why do some Americans feel over-taxed? Well, it turns out there's more than one way to tax a taxpayer.

We asked Jerry Bringmann, a New York construction superintendent who been in and out of work over the past year. We caught up with him as he commuted back by rail to his home on New York's Long Island.

"It's nickel and dimes," he told CNN. "It's the stuff you don't see that gets you. You add up all this stuff at the end of the year and you've laid out a few bucks. And that's how they do it. They make it so you don't notice."

Some fear the federal government will start playing the same game as state and city governments are now playing. Consider this:

Bringmann’s daughter recently got a traffic ticket. He says that “on the ticket was a surcharge…I mean seriously it was a $50 ticket with a $40 surcharge and now they throw on another $50 surcharge.”

And there’s this:

“You know…you look at your phone bill,” Bringmann says. He’s talking about all those tiny taxes that increase the size of the final bill. “You might see a little line item which could be 25 or 30 cents…but they’re not going to give that back. Once they got it, they ain’t going to give it back.”

And consider this too:

Twenty-three states have raised taxes and fees this year, some in creative ways. In Wisconsin, they’re proposing a seventy-five cent monthly fee for any device that can make 911 calls. In Maine, there is an additional five percent tax on most candy. In Massachusetts, lawmakers voted to raise the sales tax by 25 percent. And in Kentucky, officials have doubled the state cigarette tax and now taxes alcohol.

Put all of it together and it explains why no matter what the president say or does, middle-class Americans like Jerry Bringmann feel as though all those taxes and fees are pinching them right where it hurts most: in their wallets.

Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. fredric

    It is really simple , the Gov spends money , out of control, your money! and when they make mistakes, you pay and pay and pay. Do not be fooled the gov is broken , in fighting on both side to save there job and get there lobby kick back , The gov has no right to tax us, we pay them to manage and look at the mess we are in, Sad to say America is an empire in decline and we have our gov to thank, Taxes up , market down, bills are up, dollar down. Where are the Americans. to fat to soft to take this country back from the crooks . Stand up fight back. We are call to fight the wars and work the machinery. while bank bask in profit. Jobless , homeless, pennyless, Wake up America, the worst is yet to come. Fight back

    February 21, 2010 at 5:19 pm |

    When we all remember that we are all in this together then maybe a sense of getting things right for the present and future is far more important than the immediate cost that MUST be spent to get it right! How come we all can't see that the glass is half-full and we need to fill it up even more.

    July 29, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  3. Andrés

    It is time to revisit the idea of a flat tax. Over all my wife and I pay very little taxes on our small business. As for my salary from my second job (so we can have decent health care), I pay over 30% in taxes. I am not opposed to paying my fair share as long as the focus is towards education and infrastructure, otherwise we will just be facing a long slow degradation of our country.

    July 29, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  4. Allene

    After years of no taxes many of our infrastructure, health, police and education have suffered. I believe we all should bare the burden for those who cannot afford it. Raise taxes. Where is the Right to Life. Research indicates that people without insurance are more than twice as likely to die from a treatable, preventable diseases. And I do believe that if everyone is covered, cost will go down in the long run.

    July 20, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  5. CNN Typo

    Massachusetts voted to raise the sales tax by 25%? I think you may want to check your facts.

    July 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Tom


    You are absolutely right! We do need taxes to pay for roads, schools, police, ect. In fact, our wages are based on productivity and productivty increases by having an infrastructure, a more educated society, ect. But, what you absolutely neglect to consider is that there is an optimal tax rate, and in the U.S. we are far above it. We are no longer raising taxes to pay for these positive things, we are raising taxes to pay for pet projects that politicians want. In fact, we are so far above the optimal tax rate, that we are losing jobs to outsourcing, experiencing increases in unemployment, and seeing our real earings diminish from over taxation. A key example is to look at current state budgets. I live in Michigan so I will use them as an example. Because of our growing budget deficit due to spending being much larger than tax revenues, we have shut down 12 prisions, laid off thousands of state police, and closed schools and cut funding for the rest. However, how dare we think to cut down on research and building a new State Police headquarters which is a very unpopular project in Michigan and will cost millions. Sure, some construction workers will get jobs by building this faciltiy, but i don't think the economic gain from it makes up for all of the state employees that have been laid off. Don't get me wrong, research is a very good thing and we can benefit from it , but I just don't understand how we can improve our economic conditions and budget deficit when we shut down important things we need and keep spending millions of things like wood utlization research – actually in the Michigan budget. So yes, we do need some taxes to be a productive society, but we also need responsible and value added spending.

    July 15, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  7. JohnWinNC

    I do feel overtaxed. I think the average person pays about 40% of income in various taxes. As Tracey indicated above (June 29th, 2009 7:00 am ET) we are taxed from every angle. I think taxes need to be progressive, though. Those who benefit most from the system need to pay their "fair share." A wealthy buisness owner should not pay less in personal taxes than the secretary.

    July 13, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  8. Randy McCoy

    Democrats have yet to figure out the unintended consequences of their actions. Soak the rich appeals to those with no aspirations yet want something handed to them, like health care, unemployment benefits, the list goes on. The unintended consequenes are those evil rich people provide a lot of jobs. I for one, will layoff employees and cut back on benefits before I get soaked by Obama. How about he try spending less - wait - he believes we need more debt! Yeah, that will work! The, "I'm going to tax people with money so you can have more stuff" is great talk for getting the votes of the mindless, non-thinkers, but it doesn't work in the real world.

    July 9, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  9. RJ

    too many people period! its only going to get worse and when the tax payers have to pay for a child molester junkies funeral, then we know we are screwed!

    July 7, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  10. RJ

    if all people in this country that made over $200,000 paid around 35% to 40% of their total wealth we would have no tax issues in this country. My wife and I make just under $75,000 and we are in this 35% to 40%, this is whats wrong! It puts people like my family living paycheck to paycheck because people making more than $200,000 can find all kinds of ways to hide their money, no such hidding places for our income! its time to tax the rich period or their wont be the America we have all come used to!

    July 7, 2009 at 7:39 am |
  11. Louise Smith

    Well, I live in Florida...and my tax dollars are going to build a tunnel under the road so that TURTLES can cross the road safely!! Excuse me but when the Dept. of Transportation doles out money to my state and I live on a dirt road that needs to be leaves me wondering why turtles are more important than ME!!! I actually wrote the Governor and he could not care less what I had to say!! It's as bad as Nancy Pelosi putting 80,000 hard working Americans out of work to save a minnow ( that by the way, has been here LONG before mankind!) and people wonder why California is bankrupt??? Pay attention to what is really going on!!!

    July 6, 2009 at 8:34 am |
  12. DAKOTA

    An added note: When my cousin in Sweden (which produces the SAAB and VOLVO), bought a new Mercedes, he was charged a luxury tax of 100%. Thus, he paid $160,000 for a $80,000 car.

    Two reasons for this tax: encourage Swedes to buy Swedish cars and increase the Swedish government's revenue.

    I like this idea.

    July 6, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  13. DAKOTA

    As an average citizen I make $52,000 a year and I pay about 42 state and local taxes throughout the year. But do I feel over taxed? No and here's why.

    I have yet to find a non-profit that:
    constructs bridges,
    builds roads,
    puts satellites in the sky for communication systems,
    maintains the military,
    manufactures bullets for our soldiers' weapons, etc.

    Thus to all of the whiners in the US: Grow up.

    July 6, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  14. David

    I have been paying taxes along with every other taxpayer in this country. No matter how much we pay, it will never be enough. So get ready to do without a lot of the things you need and enjoy. the people have cut back just like me, but the only thing I have seen uncle sam cut is government jobs and benifits that help the poor, and slap more taxes on the people that have managed to hang onto their jobs in these hard times. I dont know about the rest of you, but I feel they are getting enough now if they would just learn to live on a budget like the rest of us.

    July 2, 2009 at 9:28 am |
  15. Tim

    If several states need to increase taxes to balance the budgets, I'll pay my fair share. Fair being the operative word. Will there be a reduction in spending for instance on Legislators salaries, and benefits. Just sayin that if fair is fair this should be an equal burden on all. Especially those who award themselves raises and have benefits for life. Lets have a level playing field and give them some incentive to do the right thing.
    Probably too much to ask, but why is no one asking?

    July 1, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  16. Sharon

    Just curious – Are B.O. and R.E. involved in coal liquefaction in Illinois? Just curious. Could someone answer that question??

    B.O. will tax your electricity, tax your health benefit, tax everything. It will be done insidiously – and then behind closed doors give a waiver to the ethanol producers in the cap and trade issue – Wow!! Who would that be?? Some of those guys in jail from ADM?? You really can't make this stuff up and it is so obvious – we are all being HAD by B.O. and his tax cheating buddies!

    June 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  17. Tamale Zebra

    This is insane! I have never seen so many people happy with higher taxes. Our government has been wasting our money and passing bills that they have not even read not once but twice now. None of our presidents and elected officials have been perfect ever. But this congress is flat out crazy. Who signs a contract without reading it first? Aren't most of our congress college educated?

    When has it become a sin to work hard, keep most of your earned money and do for yourself. When did our government become our babysitter? The American dream has become the American nightmare.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  18. RS

    This "story" is ridiculous and pathetic. Guess what, you need taxes to pay for roads, schools and services we need badly.

    Shame on you Carol Costello and CNN. You make it seem like Obama is doing this to you as a Democrat. Well, maybe if you took some time during your eight years of greed, you would realize that every other industrialized country has their residents paying a ton more taxes. Yet, they get health care and excellent social services that the media and greedy rich people here don't want. Well, when you get sick and there are crumbling roads, YOU will be to blame.

    So what if cigarettes are taxed, so what if soda is taxed, they are all bad for you! I would gladly pay more taxes if it means I get good public health care like every other industrialized nation.

    Wayne is totally right in his comment.


    June 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  19. dan in Tucson AZ

    Americans feel over taxed because the tax comes from every angle. When we buy anything, when we get paid goes to fed, state, city, township. And then we get hosed all over again on April 15th. Yeah, I'd say we are over taxed, don't you? In fact we get taxed over and over again on the same money. I am sick of it.

    June 29, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  20. Wayne

    Carol , your piece on taxes was just another attempt to promote the republican propaganda machine. You unfairly teased and baited us by leading out with President Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class on the federal level , which he has kept , then you switched and cited examples of states and municipalities raising taxes, as well as consumption taxes on cigarettes . Unfortunately based on your piece , the average "joe the plumber " will blame President Obama and the Democrats for states and municipalities raising taxes , not the republicans who cut funding to the states and municpalities in the first place . It really is amazing , how some journalistic endeavors sabotage the goals of our officials who are really trying to change Washington to a goverment of the people and for the people. Please give us a break and concentrate on holding goverment officals directly accountable for their actions , not creatively disguising them to fit the republican propaganda machine or increase media ratings !

    June 29, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  21. lyra grant

    Not only is Obama selling us down the river to get what he wants for health insurance but he is also has missed the mark on the credit card Fees. I got my statement for my credit cards and as most Americans I have a balance. Well my interest rate jumped from 12 % to 19.50%.
    One friend is have to sell her jewelery because her rate went up to 30%
    HERE IS THE QUESTION. HOW CAN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE STIMULATE THE ECONOMY WHEN ALL OUR MONEY IS GOING TO THE CREDIT CARD COMPANIES DUE TO UNFAIR INTEREST RATES? The Congress gave them my tax money so I do own part of these companies. They have said "thank you" by upping my rates to a catastrophic amount. I need help NOW not in 2010. Congressman
    and Senators have a job, great health insurance,retirement and haircuts, For them there is no "Now" I am paying for the greedy and the government is not taking care of us regular folks. What a shame.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  22. Joysetta Pearse

    To preface your segment on state and cigarette tax increases with a reference to President Obama's campaign promise not to increase income taxes was illogical and frankly ignorant. The content did not support your intro. Also, no Governors of tax-increasing states were named in the piece, but you had no problem naming the Preident in this connection. In the course of his tenure, President Obama may really renege on a campaign promise, but this is not the one. Meanwhile, tamp down the bias and the hate. Be patient.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  23. Paul

    There is a huge difference between income tax and the excess taxes noted in this story. Whereas with income tax you are required to pay money - every year - the taxes mentioned in this story can easily be negotiated by the average citizen. If you do not want to pay the extra fees associated with a traffic ticket, stop speeding. If your income is heavily impacted by a cigarette, candy or alcohol tax - it probably means you are using too much of either and should be cutting back to begin with. Massachusetts raising their sales tax by "25%" is slightly misleading as the true increase was 1.25% - to a total of 6.25% sales tax in the state. Slightly more perspective on it as before the increase Massachusetts had one of the lowest sales tax rates in the nation. Regardless, the impact of this tax increase can be negotiated by budgeting.

    I'm not too sure what to tell the people really upset about a 75 cent fee attached to 911 capable phones. Since that is actually needed to keep the service going and the people upset about it would probably be so based on principle, I guess they can just cancel their phone service and hire a body guard.

    Although nickle and dimming may be happening, it is still perceived as being less painful, and isn't that the whole point? Would you rather be paying a large chunk of your income at the end of the year and feel the full impact or pay slightly less with relatively small installments throughout the year and feel better about it?

    June 29, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  24. Lew Lake

    I have been unemployed since last year.
    I have calculated that if my taxes go up $4,000 dollars per year and I can get health care through a government single payer option, I will be money ahead.

    If people think the government might control their medical care, they should just ask around. There are clerks in India, employed by the insurance companies that are currently deciding your health care options.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  25. David

    Some state governments are still keep the level of spending just like the economy is still booming. They need to learn to cut their spending to a level same as the current economic situation. Instead, they are pinning the taxpayer with more back breaking tax. It is WRONG.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  26. A.M. Deist, Fort Walton Beach, FL

    We are not overtaxed, we simply can't control our consumption. Ronald Reagan said it best: “Governments don't reduce deficits by raising taxes on the people; governments reduce deficits by controlling spending and stimulating new wealth.” We had one of the best economic times under President Clinton, and maybe it was attributed to his having a Republican Congress. The answer to controlling spending and improving our economy may be returning to the Republican Congress under a Democratic President, Ya think!

    June 29, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  27. YV

    Everybody wants more without having to pay for it. We can't have good healthcare, public education, etc without us all working for it and contributing towards it. As for a complaint against higher taxes against alcohol and tobacco.....REALLY??!! These things are a luxury items not a life necessity.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  28. Amanda

    Why do tobacco users get punished each time the government needs money? Isn't targeting a specific group of people (like tobacco users) discrimination. If it is absolutly necessary to raise taxes it should at lest be done so that a specific group of people are not the only ones getting targeted.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  29. Terri Combs Orme

    Yep, those taxes are a killer. I was thinking of that this morning at a red light (provided and maintained by my city taxes) as I was on my way to work at the University (paid for by my state taxes and the taxes of my students and their parents). I said a brief prayer of thanks for the Federal Student Defense Loan that got me to my office, where I thought about it further, feeling safe because I knew the police, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel (paid for by my local taxes) would come if I needed help. On the way home I passed a disability services shelter (paid for by my federal and state taxes, and there but for the grace of God...), an unemployment office (ditto), and my son's old elementary school (local and state taxes again). Just sayin', Carol, if you're going to complain about taxes, list the services you're willing to give up while you're at it. Tell the complete story.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  30. Mary Sterzinger

    Could you, Carol, and the people in this story possibly be bigger whiners? Get real. If we want to keep the country running without cutting LOTS of programs and services, the money has to come from somewhere. Just because some politicians want to cut to the bare bone or don't have the guts to raise some taxes and fees to pay for the things we need doesn't mean Obama and the governors of states are doing this just to take your money . They are trying to keep us afloat AND trying to undo the damage done by the previous administrations who didn't have the guts to do what needs to be done to help us here. I for one am not going to whine about it when I am living a pretty comfortable life with more than I need to live well. It is time those of us who are living comfortably quit whining and start sacrificing a bit for the good of ALL of us. AND to make sure everyone has health care, a moral imperative as far as I am concerned, I will gladly pay more taxes!!!!! I am not too thrilled about my taxes paying for a war in Iraq that has drained us of one heck of a lot of resources and good people but I am happy to pay more if it goes to help the people here who need help.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  31. brandon

    if you want to talk unnecessary taxes, look at page county in virginia. the local board of supervisors has raised personal property taxes in a county that has and unemployment rate in the top 5 in the commonwealth. our taxes rise, but we in the county have nothing to show for it except for empty pockets. my suggestion is do an investigative report; you may be surprised what you find.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  32. Joan K

    Sure I feel over-taxed. But isn't it interesting what we get for all the money. When ever a person, group, or company needs to be taken care of, bailed out or saved , who is expected to step in? Of course, Uncle Sam. Can we have it both ways? Low taxes and being the keeper of us and the free world? I don't think so..

    June 29, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  33. Thom Sanders

    In a country where we expect our roads to be pothole free, fire and police to respond to our beck and call, for bridges to be safe and a whole myriad of public services to support our day to day lives, where do we expect the money for these things to come from other than taxes? We are members of this society and as a result we pay for that system of support. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

    June 29, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  34. joel voisine

    No Taxes on those who make under $250,000 a year; yeah right.

    Were a capitalist market. Those who make more than $250,000 are probably owners of properties / businesses / investments ... and those who don't, well will bare the burden of the tax increases through increased prices.

    The trickle down effect.


    June 29, 2009 at 9:06 am |
  35. James Hoffman

    Just sayen where is the money to come from? Every second our population increases and the demand for services goes up as each new resident arrives and ages. If we do raise taxes somehow then things will begin to fall apart. We do not have the money to cover the necessities now. Just as an example of how things are out of control and how we have no Idea of how to control them. The infrastructure of our roads and bridges is on the verge of collapse. The Federal fuel tax was instituted to take care of these things. Then the need began to outstrip the finances. Now we are going green. We are driving less, we are consuming less and therefore shipping less and we are going to more alternative energy cars. This means we are using less fuel and the fuel tax income has dropped significantly. How do we replace that? Taxing cigarette's and booze will help some things but that is not enough to go around. CNN needs to look at the whole economy and see how we are on a huge down hill slide. I do not believe that bowering more money will help. It will only prolong the misery. We need congress to really stand up and have the Balls to kill and stop all pork, they need to look at the big picture and not just the small portions.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  36. mersine

    I really don't mind paying some taxes, we do need to run the country but....... have you looked at your electric bill lately. The taxes and surcharges almost triples the bill, I do understand that they are not all federal but these are the things that are killing the american people who are just barely making it. I am really starting to believe that a flat tax across the board makes more and more sense. If you look at all the taxes and fees on all of your utility bills, plus sales tax, plus local taxes and property taxes and income taxes, we are paying upto 75% in taxes. The taxes and fees on necessities, like water and elec. are the most insulting and the companies the least sympathetic to our economic times. I think this is where we need the help, I wouldnt mind paying 10% or even 20% of my pay if I could get some relief in these areas. Thanks for letting me vent

    June 29, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  37. P. Edward Murray

    Overtaxed? You've got to be kidding...

    First, Mr. Bringmann has a job and as much as I can feel for him for the time he was unemployed...he's employed now...

    Anyone who has a job has no right, no right in the world to cry about least you have a job a heck of a lot of us don't.

    My job? My entire office was outsourced to Manila 4 years ago.

    My 74 year old mother, who has cancer and a disabling back problem, still is working. I have an Uncle and Aunt that lost their jobs, my brother and sister-in-law lost their jobs.

    And if that's not bad...consider this...

    One of the ladies that works at the local B.J.'s.....she checks the receipts...she told me last week that she wished her family could get back to work!

    June 29, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  38. William Courtland

    Just like Bush, Clinton, Nixon, and most other Presidents of America's past: President Obama is stuck behind the method of politics in Washington.

    While in part this is the politicans fault found at the Federal level: in larger part it is the peoples fault, for in the United States of America: it is the people who are responsible for the enforcement of government standards and statues.

    The Separation of the executive branches is meant to defeat this problem of making the people responsible for that enforcement: yet the party system has bleed the definitive lines between: Legislative, Senate, and Whitehouse Administration: and in Amendment finality to the many State's governments.

    Under this party system: the President sees the people in need and with requirements: yet under the Constitution: taxation is not meant to exist in large part accept to fund the contents of the Constitution itself(and even then is to be processed through State government taxation).

    Medical needs are not currently in the Federal Constitution, and until the people demand an amendment to add the right to such taxation...

    The government structure is corrupted. This should be the first duty of the President: as with great power comes great responsibility: and with democratic power: the responsibility is to return that power to the people... often party members forget that. Maintaining reference control and review of peoples epectations... the President has a job to do: but to front the parties corruptive policy methods is not one of them.

    Policy sets how the Administration will deal with a specific set of instructions found written in the Constitution: policy is not meant to allow for the creation of departments and taxes or the dealing with things not yet raised under the peoples interests by true constitutional amendment. The structure and function of government... without it corruption is easy: and the peoples rights and powers will be found dwindling.

    It is the peoples responsibility: stop voting in the party: and demand real representation of a person who truly has the time in the day to read all their register mail. A district size is as close to thirty thousand without going under that number: as divided by and into each State: via a federal census.

    For instance the Federation has the Constitutional right to tax the people for the payment and creation of that Federal Census: and NASA might squeak by as a military requirement: or a postal service requirement... but... As much as the Federal Government needs correction: the Constitution requires new amendment to cover and truly mandate and create the right for taxation to allow the service which the people require: legally.

    Medical taxations: are currently not legal unless State legislature provides them: on this issue and without a Constitutional Amendment: the President should be working with his departments to provide a stable ability to provide for the people where it can under the current Constitution: and if national health care is his interest: currently he must manage it by attempting to control the board of fifty governors: so to create inside their State Constitutions the requirements needed to fund and provide health coverage for all.

    Noble yes: but lawful? The party lines lead to an unlawful way of drawing up new legislation.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  39. Kim-Ha Albert in Seattle

    George Herbert Walker Bush pledged "No New Taxes" when he was seeking office, and he also reversed himself. His son, who borrowed trillions from the Chinese to finance the illegal wars in Afghanistan & Iraq, caused the entire economic meltdown of the American economy. Now, Obama has the unfortunate mission to try to right all the wrongs with America, it's an enormous task, and no matter what he tries, he will fall short, and Presidential candidates will LIE & do ANYTHING, like say they were under fire in Yugoslavia, to get elected. That's the nature of America of late. There are no statesmen, just liars, who are truly no different than that Bernard Madoff.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  40. Larry

    I forgive him on the cigarette tax. It helped me quit smoking. As far as I'm concerned he can tax cigarettes, alcohol and gambling all he wants. It might help people break their addictions.

    If he's looking for a good source of taxes how about so-called non profit agencies? I used to volunteer for a charity where the president was taking a $140,000/year salary plus an expense account and had a staff of 13 all also well paid. Most of these non-profit agencies just employ people and I estimate that only 30-40% of the money donated actually goes to the cause.

    I'm sure the catholic church and others could throw in billions a year in taxes.

    For the life of me I can't figure out why non-profits aren't taxed. A lot of them just look like another scam bilking well-meaning people of their money.

    June 29, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  41. T

    Hey, folks, let's get off of the dated "R versus D" poles and think this through like Carol does. WE elected a president, in part, because we sought to pull more tax from high-incomers, and not from the vast majority of us. Leading with that Obama stance is appropriate.

    But, as Carol notes, the fact is, we are ultimately getting taxed more because of pressure on the states.
    Carol never "blamed" Obama, but I guess people who get up every day for the Giant Republicans are Right (or Wrong), Democrats are Wrong (or Right), No Matter What childish chatter aren't able to survey reality any more than the Fox News's of the world. Rather than thinking of the American people they so claim to stand for, they get tender-stung because D-Barack appeared in a story about more taxes and then miss the boat.

    This is precisely what brought George W. back for a second term. Party allegiance, and *beliefs* associated with it ran roughshod over facts and reality.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  42. karen szalay

    there are so many people in dire circumstances right now that any solution they see as a way back to the lives they once had sounds great. however, it appears the only way back is through the income of the middle class and loans that our great, great, great grandchildern will have the burden of paying back. we are loosing jobs so quickly that they may have a harder time living on what income is left after they pay the taxes imposed on them so the government can once again survive another botched bailout. the series of events that have put so many people in this econmic trouble will put more burden on those people who support their families by working and paying the taxes imposed on them. we have so many taxes to pay in our lifetime . many states have taxes on inheritance that has already been taxed at least twice before. there is federal tax, state tax, and city tax on our income. then you have sin tax, sales tax ,bed tax ( staying in a hotel or motel), entertainment tax, capital gains tax, real estate tax, food tax, ( remaining in the resturant to eat) utilty tax, ( if cap and trade goes through , that will be higher and more than most of us can afford. ) telephone tax(cell phone), personal care tax( manicure, massage, dry cleaning,etc.) , meicare tax?( how can a system so flawed be examined as a way to give folks without med insurance the same insurance that does not take care of our elderly, let alone the general public. private insurance is already using those guidlines and i have to admit it hasn't worked for parents, grandparents, and elderly folks in all of our families.) maybe the solution is to share the programs our elected officials use in dc and other government employees have. if my taxes have to go up at least give us a program and retirement program that governtment employees have, elected or not as the case maybe. please take a good look at what is being offered to everyone as a solution to our problems. it is not just as easy as saying we have to.... its more what will take care of us and all generations to come. if public med insurance is so great then why are the countries that have it, their citizens are recieving care in other countries. if this is what people want then hold an election and allow the general public to elect citizens to have input on what is to be done. let someone who has more at stake with this situation have their voices heard. but one stipulation of working on this issue is you must be paying taxes of all kinds! please everyone step back from all this spending and look at what we as a nation can realisticaly afford to do. when money is tight WE all have to tighten our budgets. WE all have to sacrifice. WE are all resonsible for what happens over the next few years!

    June 29, 2009 at 7:36 am |
  43. Susan

    Missing the larger point.........we have reality shows, twitter, i-reports and your "man on the street" interviews to tell us what average people think. What we need is good solid reporting to get the facts straight. I'm sure you can see that most Americans need some in-depth education about what taxes are for and the choices we have to make in allocating them.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:36 am |
  44. Lary Saltzman

    Your coverage seems a bit negative and biased. We just voted the Republicans out of office-why not give the new administration a chance to make some policy before being so negative. Your program is adding fuel to the fire of anti government sentiment. Our country is great and unique because of our government structure.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:24 am |
  45. Barbara Gillyard

    I am appalled that CNN is implying that the President is raising taxes on the middle class. The facts do not support that assertion. Even your article, mentions that the states are raising taxes. The President can't control what the states do. Let's hold him accountable, but let's give this president a chance to do what he said he would do. Would you rather have John McCain as President. We'd be in a war with Iran by now and the economy would be even more in the tank.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  46. carol costello

    Carol Costello here:

    To all of those suggesting I don't know the difference between state and federal taxes–please.

    The point is, since state's have to balance their budgets (and the federal government does not), states are getting less federal help, so (their words) they've been forced to raise taxes and fees on everything from cigarettes to calls to 9-1-1 to state sales taxes.

    No, President Obama has nothing to do with this–but that doesn't negate the fact that taxes and fees have gone up on things middle class Americans use and pay for.

    Some say that all adds up to one big tax on the middle class.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  47. Tracy E. Daugherty

    Three years ago, just for the heck of it, I decided to keep track of all the various taxes and fees I pay in one month. I was absolutely floored by the amount, the number, and kinds of taxes and fees I pay. You may be too.

    All told the taxes and fees account for 35% of my gross salary. Here is a breakdown:

    Payroll Taxes $1175.60
    Utilities Taxes: 32.84
    Utilities Fees 49.91
    Sales Taxes: 111.13
    Property Taxes: 120.22
    Gasoline Taxes: 30.04
    Beer and Wine Fed & State Taxes: 17.60

    Total: $1537.34 Gross Pay (GP) : $4380.92 % of GP=35%

    Here are the names of the types of taxes and fees:

    State Sales Tax
    County Sales Tax
    Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax
    Eat-in Tax
    Fed & State Liquor Tax
    Fed & State Gasoline Tax
    City Property Tax
    County Property Tax
    Federal Income Tax
    State Income Tax
    Medicare Tax
    Social Security Tax
    City Franchise Tax
    Atlanta Gas Light Charges
    Atlanta Gas Light Dedicated Design Day Capacity Charge
    Customer Service Charge
    Carrier Universal Charge
    Georgia Relay Services Fund
    Local Number Portability Surcharge
    911 Service Fee
    Federal Universal Service Fee
    Environmental Fee (for brake work)

    I may be missing some taxes and fees, but still, I’m amazed at how ingenious our politicians are at getting money out of us taxpayers! And I’m angry too!

    June 29, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  48. Christine

    Believe me, smokers noticed that cigarette tax, but we're used to being the first and most hit group for increases. We didn't even connect it with the "no increase" for the middle-class. We fall in the "sin tax" group-it's us and the drinkers, and everyone thinks we brought it on ourselves.

    June 29, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  49. Elizabeth (NY)

    Your story's a little skewed. You lead with President Obama's pledge not to raise federal taxes, then focus on state taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and candy. You mention a tax on health benefits, but that has yet to be levied. Your "man on the street" doesn't explain why he's feeling nickled and dimed. Presenting a provocative story is fine, but it should have some substance to it.

    I agree with Allene about taxes. As Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, taxes are the price we pay for civilization. If you want a provocative story, try comparing our health care system to that of countries that provide universal health care–paid for with taxes.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:57 am |
  50. Reagan

    I don't feel as we're being overtaxed...I look around and see all the crumbling infastructure that has been neglected for years under the watchful eye of the republicans. I have health care that costs a fortune and pays less than ever before. I feel hostage to the fluctuating gas prices and the news feeds on those fears. The city where I live has no plans for mass transit and I spend more time in traffic every year. My rent and utilities keep going up and up but my paycheck isn't. Those are my concerns.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  51. Lindsey "Democratic Justice" Josephine

    I'm 17 and from Council Bluffs, Iowa, (OMG, a teen that watches the news?) and I daresay that I wallow (srsly) in the middle-class. I don't even buy the things I need and I'm feeling the pressure.

    But I understand the motivation for those sneaky taxes (cigarettes are bad for you, anyway). Besides, Obama is only human, and things change. Sometimes, you have to do things that you don't want to, but that's life.

    I admit, though, I am disappointed. I was hoping the choker squeezing the working people would slacken, if only just because my family has to really tighten the figurative belt.

    My mom has raised me and my two brothers (mostly) alone with little help (welfare, lol). I'm surprised we've done so well, so maybe I don't have a real reason to complain at all.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  52. Marc

    The country voted for tax and spend Democrats. Now, higher taxes and a near $2 trillion dollar annual deficit is what the country is getting The Obama deficit is 4x the deficit left by the Bush. The Treasury is printing money. The dollar is tanking. And, the Chinese pushing to end the dollar as the world reserve currency. This is not what Obama and the Democrats inherited. This is what Obama is doing. And this is what the American people voted for. 60 votes in the Senate. No, Republicans to kick around anymore.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:52 am |
  53. Steve Naples, FL

    Can you tell me why you would be against additional taxes on tobacco? They should tax it out of existence. If it saves only a few lives, & it probably will help save millions, why would any thinking person think this is a bad tax??????? Also, remember luxury taxes? I like to have an alcoholic drink. But this is not a necessity – it is a luxury- so I don't mind paying extra tax on a bottle of scotch.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  54. Jo

    How can you link the tax increase in States to the Government or to Obama? Here we go again, But we are not doomed. Obama is confronting wisely our problems, but the statu quo and the stablishment are deploying all their arsenal to fight him, among those is CNN.

    Make no mistake, we know what is going on that why is number still high despite all the negative compain against only 6 months taking the office.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  55. Tex

    In Ohio, the Northwest Local School district needed building monies that the voters kept voting against... So they somehow moved money (1.5 million) from the general fund to the building fund, and since the general fund was below the state mandated 20 mils inside millage, the school district got to increase it back to 20 mils, effictively giving themselves 1.5 million in building funds without the voters ever approving it....

    June 29, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  56. Cathy P Kentucky

    Listen I know this is from the GOP play book attempting to rile folks up but paying taxes for services is something I do that is a point of pride.

    Here in KY we need these taxes–the GOP obstructs every attempt we have to otherwise raise revenue–like allowing casinos–you name it they're not for it.

    Let me ask why these people don't want to have a civilized nation which requires raising taxes?

    I like having streets paved, libraries, all of those things that makes us a great civilization–raising taxes through our elected representatives is the Constitutional way to remain a civilized nation.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  57. F sanchez

    With all do respect Carol Costello is so wrong, is anything that the states tax Obamas Fault? How in the Earth is taxing cigarrets that is killing people and costing alot of money to take care of the people that is gotten sick by them racing taxes?
    That is Bull.... one bitter old Men that you interview out of a crowd a republican no doubt.

    nice reporting bull.......s

    June 29, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  58. jay

    I live in New Jersey & let me tell you, the taxpayers of this state have been nickle & dimed for many years. The state goverment spending is so out of control it is beyond belief. In 5 years my property taxes have doubled from $5600 to $11,800. Needless to say, we are selling our house 7 leaving the state. What happened with New Jersey taxes is now going to happen on a federal level. Obama has lots of plans for your money!

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  59. Carl Clark

    No, I am privileged to know that my country's and it's citizens needs are greater than my personal desires. I am probably not in the majority about taxes but I don't care about living the high life. I just want to maintain a clean and humble life. Any new sin taxes or minor general taxes are acceptable. There are too many Americans who have little to nothing but the hope that their fellow citizens are willing to help them through this terrible and demoralizing time. When our economy gets healthy again we can revisit the necessity of our sharing our resources through taxes. Remembering to be thankful that we have a job should be something we do everyday.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  60. Marco Bell

    The whole country is over taxed. The whole tax system is corrupt. Every dollar you earn, a percentage will be taken to pay FEDERAL INCOME TAX, STATE TAX, STATE DISABILITY, SOCIAL SECURITY, etc. Now, after all those deductions, you get taxed (SALES TAX) for using what's left. SALES TAX should be illegal since the state already takes a state income tax.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  61. Lary Saltzman

    Do we want good roads and all the rest of the services our government provides. Or do we just want to complain that we don't have enough money for another McDonalds hamburger or another electronic gadget.
    I'm sorry to say this, but paying taxes is patriotic and is our duty as citizens. Of course the taxes should be spent right and I think as a whole our money is spent fairly- there are cases that taxes are not spent fairly and that causes an over reaction against all taxes.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  62. Lauren

    At $7.11 a pack, smoking cigarettes will soon be yet another luxury only for the rich. While I do agree that we must all pay our dues, I don't believe it is morally right to tax the helpless. Not everyone can simply quit smoking at a moments notice. Travelling an hour and a half up north has also become a fiasco, as NJ has nearly doubled its toll charges.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  63. Linda Farage

    FEELING OVER TAXED???? Hell yes, I've been unemployed since my job went to mexico. I can barely make my payments on my bills and now my property taxes have been increased. Why is it, when my income has been cut, I have to try to live in my means or do without, but when the county and state incomes are low, they can just take from me. Where am I suppose to get the extra money to pay increased property taxes, when I barely have enough money to pay my current bills. The number one question I have, is what give the government the right to TAKE my house, because I cant pay a TAX. Im struggling to make the house payment, and insurance, then I get buried by the property tax, and now the state can take my house? is that democracy or communisim?

    June 29, 2009 at 6:47 am |
  64. Jackson

    This is whats great about AMERICA!!! if ya dont like whats going on u can always LEAVE!!!!! : )

    June 29, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  65. Bruce H Scroggins

    What amazes me is, how uninformed we are, Ads on this CNN/AM News Show says; Public Option bad, Government bad, it wasn't the government who raised private premiums, 10% plus each of the last 10 years.

    I live in Minnesota and our Governor, raised Fee’s a stealth tax on the middle class down to the poor, that’s not Obama raising taxes on the middle class, look to the Governor and Legislatures, for passing Fee increases, the Nickel and Demining of America.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  66. dave


    We are recent retirees and where shocked too find out we have to pay tax on our social security income. So we now are paying tax on the social security tax we paid for all those years!!

    June 29, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  67. mike g/new york

    Yes, But ... your broadcast this morning is practically (and cynically) CAJOLING people into complaining. Our country is broken and it was NOT the Obama administration that ignored the perils of a changing environment, ignored health care reform, ignored our dependence on foreign oil, and squandered our assets with a terrible, foolish war, while playing u-regulated financial games that brought our economy down.

    Fixing things WILL cost $$ and it's irresponsible NOT to think so, and NOT to believe that every American should contribute toward helping to right our toppled Ship of State is ... irresponsible. Fine that you care about ratings, CNN ... but what about providing a rational perspective for WHY taxes are NECESSARY?

    June 29, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  68. Jeanne H Barnett

    Nobody LIKES to pay taxes . . . however, my understanding of democracy is that it requires a cooperative effort to work through the lengthy list of things we want. So, my bottom line is: if you want the services and the roads and the protection, etc. . . . stop complaining about the price tag! We must work together–it's the American way!

    And–just one request: stop saying "they" are doing this and "they" are doing that; that creates an "us" against "them" mentality–WE, each of us who votes, is a part of the "they" you are speaking about (the government). Democracy is about "WE" and creating factions and anger against the proverbial "they" does not make any of us or our country better.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  69. Stephanie, Ohio

    We haven't seen anything yet with regard to our taxes – The new energy bill to cap emissions that has just passed the House will increase an average family's costs for utilities and all items we purchase by $8,000-$9,000 per year -- This would be the largest tax bill ever passed on average Americans, even though it is disguised as a tax on businesses. The businesses will have to pass the cost through to all Americans.

    With regard to health care, the government could not even run Medicare and Social Security properly, and we are supposed to let them take over the whole heathcare system?

    June 29, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  70. David

    This anti-tax hysteria is dangerous – taxes are not a penalty, they are a necessary part of our society. If you want to do without schools, roads, and police, go ahead and vilify taxes. I'm fed up with the conservative movement's last thirty years of trying to dismantle a government that had been making great strides towards creating a freer, more equal society, a small-d democratic government that all voters are a part of.
    Perhaps instead of questioning taxes, we should be questioning where our tax money is going. If you're looking for quick, reasonable tax relief (albeit without any hope of actually happening), cut the bloated military-industrial budget and the ruinous agribusiness subsidies that only serve to impoverish the Third World and contribute to unhealthy lifestyles here at home.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  71. JB

    I just watched your story on the increases around the country by state.. I CANNOT believe nobody is following the story here in AZ where we have a $3.6 BILLION deficit and the legislature and governor are contemplating a tax DECREASE for the wealthiest of Arizonans & a sales tax increase which hits the poor and middle class more.. meanwhile, there will be significant cuts to everything from education to the health benefits to the domestic partners of state employees. .. I guess you and we are just getting very used to that which is outrageous.. it doesn't even draw much attention anymore

    June 29, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  72. CW Jensen

    I think someone needs to explain to Carol Costello that there is a difference between federal taxes and state and local taxes. Perhaps she is the only one in the country who thought President Obama was promising to control state and local taxes as well as federal. Another dopey story from someone who always has a smirk and looks like she feels oh-so superior. No wonder Jon Stewart loves you guys.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  73. Tony (South Carolina)

    Didn't this happen one time a few hundred years back before and we pretty much broke away from the United Kingdom to form the United States? If this keeps up it seems like certain regions of the US like the Southeast, Northeast, etc will get so fed up with the government and just break apart from the Union.

    Just Saying

    June 29, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  74. Susan Frost

    How helpful do you think these "man in the street" interviews are? We all know the average intelligence of America. Ever seen Jay Leno's Jaywalking bits?

    Just saying...............................

    June 29, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  75. Allene

    After years of no or lower taxes, if we want services (like roads and schools and health care, we will have to pay taxes. If there was less hollering about taxes, our roads would be better. Individuals do not build roads, pay for police protection, improve schools or provide for the common good. Less attention on "me and more attention on "we" would improve the common good and 15% of our youth would not feel hopeless.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  76. J. Luby

    While I do not agree with all the hidden taxes, money is needed somewhere. I smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a week and while I don't like that the price has gone up- it is a necessary evil. I can smoke less cigarettes than I want to, but I can't pay less taxes than I am suppose to.

    June 29, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  77. James Alsup

    If you think that is bad wait untill carbon emission taxes are in full effect

    June 29, 2009 at 6:36 am |