The Spectacle Blog

Goolsbee dodges Obamacare tax questions

By on 1.31.11 | 9:03AM

Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House council of economic advisers, looked like a deer in the headlights as he tried to defend Obamacare during his testimony to the House Ways & Means Committee last week.

Throughout his campaign, President Obama made a "firm pledge" that no family making less than $250,000 would see "any form of tax increase".  This promise was reaffirmed on April 15, 2009 at a White House press briefing:  When asked if the pledge applied to healthcare, Robert Gibbs replied that the pledge "didn't come with caveats."

But Obama's signature on the healthcare bill enacted over two dozen new or higher taxes, at least seven of which hit Americans making less than $250,000.

So Goolsbee was called in to testify before Ways & Means as part of its first Obamacare hearing of the 112th Congress.  Goolsbee was asked in a straightforward manner by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) if he agreed the tax hikes were indeed tax hikes.

It wasn't pretty, as Goolsbee obfuscated, fibbed, and chuckled:

Rep. Tiberi: I'd like you to tell me whether each of the following, and a yes or no answer would suffice, that were included in the healthcare law constitutes an increase in taxes for individuals or families making less than $200,000 or $250,000.  A new tax on individuals who did not purchase government approved health insurance?

Goolsbee: . . . (shrugs)

Austan Goolsbee: uh- I don't think that's an accurate way to describe it, no.

Tiberi: Not a new tax?

Goolsbee: I don't think that's an accurate way.

Tiberi: A new ban on the use of flexible savings accounts, HSAs, HRAs, on using pre-tax income to purchase over the counter drugs?

Goolsbee: uh I-I don't, that's not a tax increase of a normal form and that's part of a broader reform effort obviously.

Tiberi: An increase from 7 and a half percent to 10 percent of income the threshold after which individuals can deduct out of pocket medical expenses?

Goolsbee: . . . (shakes his head)

Tiberi: Not a tax increase?

Goolsbee: uh, I, as I'm saying, the, I do not consider the affordable care act as a whole to be a tax increase on people less than $200,000.

Tiberi: There are two more. Impose a new $2500 cap on family's ability to use pre-tax dollars to fund an FSA?

Goolsbee: I twen- could you-

Tiberi: $2500 cap on-

Goolsbee: $2500 cap; I don't, I don't consider that a tax increase.

Tiberi: A new ten percent tax on indoor tanning services?

Goolsbee: (chuckles) uh. . .

Tiberi: Not a tax increase?

Goolsbee: Well, that seems like a strictly voluntary, uh, thing that one could choose.

Tiberi: But not a tax increase?

Goolsbee: . . . (shrugs)

The video footage is priceless:

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