Obama’s Book Explanation Doesn’t Reflect Plan

Photograph by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama in Arlington, Virginia.

President Barack Obama misrepresented the majority recommendation of the bipartisan deficit commission he appointed in an interview the president gave to journalist Bob Woodward for a book released today.

Obama is quoted in “The Price of Politics” telling the famed Watergate journalist that he did not endorse proposals from the commission chaired by former Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican, and former Bill Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, because they “involved eliminating the home mortgage deduction, health care deduction, charitable deduction, etc.”

The commission’s deficit proposal wouldn’t have eliminated the tax breaks, though it would have scaled back their value to taxpayers.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage wouldn’t give any ground after being contacted about the discrepancy, e-mailing back a response that the Simpson-Bowles Commission’s recommendation would “gut” the tax breaks.

The majority of the panel recommended an overhaul in the tax code that would have raised tax revenue while reducing tax rates. In order to accomplish that, it recommended cutting back tax breaks.

An “illustrative” option, intended to provide an example of a workable tax reform, would have changed the charitable and mortgage interest deductions to a 12 percent tax credit, reducing the value of the tax break to most taxpayers. Taxpayers also only would have been allowed to deduct charitable contributions after they exceeded 2 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Tax breaks for employer provided health care also would have been reduced.

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