"What he's really talking about doing is mailing a check and, to me, that looks more like a welfare program than the kind of real tax relief that would encourage work, savings and investments," said Phil Kerpen, policy director at Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group.
Obama claims that almost all workers (95 percent) will benefit from his "tax cuts." But Investor's Business Daily points out that Obama's "'working families' does not include all households. Throw in singles, retirees, students and the unemployed, and the share getting some tax-related benefit is a good deal less."
The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan tax-analysis group established by the liberal Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, dismisses his 95 percent figure, saying that about 80 percent of households would receive a tax cut. Throw in the tens of millions of tax filers who owe no taxes, and the percentage of taxpayers getting real tax cuts falls a lot lower.
The Obama campaign's chief economist Jason Furman told me in an e-mail that "the tens of millions of families working hard and paying payroll taxes do not think that tax cuts are a form of 'welfare' or 'redistribution' -- they think it is only fair to reward work."
Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center said "one can argue" that workers who don't pay income taxes "are paying Social Security payroll taxes, and this is a tax cut against that."
But is this just another clever way for Obama to redistribute the nation's income, taking from high-income taxpayers who pay the lion's share of all income taxes and giving it to lower-income workers who pay none?
Williams doesn't dispute this. "You could view it that way because both (tax) proposals are in the same tax plan," he said. "There's no question that's one way to perceive the tax plan." Exactly.
So this is what's at the core of Obama's economic policies -- taking more money from one group of taxpayers and directly transferring it to those in the lower- to middle-income tax brackets who pay little or no income taxes to begin with.
Instead of cutting everyone's taxes to encourage work, investment and savings by enlarging the economic pie, Obama would redivide the pie into smaller slices and redistribute it through the tax system.
This is the Europeanization of the economy that awaits us under an Obama presidency.