I was asked if I had articles comparing the candidates' economic plans (other than the links I've posted previously). I've been trying to sort through the details of the tax plans myself. Unfortunately (oddly) as I write this, the websites of the two non-partisan analyses most widely cited are down.
It's one of those things where two smart people can see things totally different. For example, one person might say Obama's plan simplifies the tax code (1), others say it greatly complicates it (4). Obama's tax code changes are bracket-specific, and there are some phase-outs that depend on how much income you make (5).
Here's a summation of points mostly related to income taxes. Sources are numbered and linked at the bottom. I've colored elements I think sum it up. I've left some things out, you can follow the links to get the details:
I. Obama would raise income taxes on the top two tax brackets to pre-Bush levels of 36.9 and 39% respectively (1). (The top rate is currently 34% for people who earn more than $250,000).
Obama would also impose an additional 2 to 4 percent tax on earnings for some over the existing Social Security wage cap, and bring back the phase-out of the personal exemption and certain itemized deductions for higher-income taxpayers. When added up, the top effective marginal tax rate rises by 12 to 14 percentage points, from 37.9 percent to roughly 48 to 50 percent (2).
Obama would also raise capital gains taxes on people earning >$250,000 to 20%, which is more than today but less than it was before 2003 (1,3).
McCain would keep the top tax rates, dividends, and capital gains taxes where they're at (6).
II. Obama would raise corporate income taxes, but cut them for business that "invest in creating jobs in America" and eliminate capital gains tax for small businesses and start-ups (7).
McCain would lower corporate income taxes (6).
Note: Corporate tax rate is currently 35%, higher than most OECD countries. But there are a lot of loopholes in the tax code that keep corporations from actually paying the 35%. Obama says we need to close the loopholes (no source for this, i heard him say it on TV).
III. McCain would double the personal exemption for families with children from $3,500 to $7,000 (6).
Obama would give a $500 payroll tax cut to workers. He also would double the Hope credit for college to $4,000 from $2,000 and make it fully refundable (7, 8).
IV. McCain would eliminate the tax exemption on employer-provided health care (raising taxable income) but would provide a tax credit of $2,500 (singles) or $5,000 (couples) to more than offset the proposed tax increase. Any of the credit not spent on insurance could be put into a health savings account.
Obama would give tax credits to businesses that provide health care to employees (1). Other aspects of his health care plan would supposedly reduce health care costs by $2,500 per family (9).
V. McCain wants to abolish the estate tax for everyone(this is a Republican plank).
Obama would eliminate the estate tax for 99.7 % of estates. He would increase the top estate tax rate ($3.5 million per person, $7 million for couples) to 45% (2,9).
VI. Obama's plan would add $3.4 trillion to the government debt over the next ten years (2) according to the Tax Policy Center (website down).
Senator McCain's plan would add roughly $5 trillion to the debt (2).
Note: Worth noting that both candidates say they will cut government programs. Obama says he'll go through the budget "line by line" (8), McCain says he will veto earmarks and cut Congressional spending (multiple sources). Obama pays for most of his programs through the tax hikes on incomes over $250,000. McCain doesn't pay for most of his other than saying he'll reign in government spending.
(There are plenty other differences in the area of tariffs, gasoline taxes, subsidies for alternative energy etc. You can research those yourself or follow the Labels on the right for various posts on the subjects).
1- "The Obama Tax Plan" by Obama advisors Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman in the WSJ.
2- "Questions About the Obama Tax Plan" by Robert Carrol at The Tax Foundation blog.
3- "We Can't Tax Our Way Out of the Entitlement Crisis" by former Bush adviser R. Glenn Hubbard in the WSJ.
4- Allen Viard as quoted by Greg Mankiw on his blog.
5- "The Folly of Obama's Tax Plan" by Alex Brill and Allen Viard for The American.
6- "John McCain has a Tax Plan to Create Jobs" by Martin Feldstein and John B. Taylor in the WSJ.
8- "How Obama Reconciles Dueling Views on the Economy" by David Leonhardt for the NY Times.