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.
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'
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