Last August at Saddleback College, Barack Obama generally defined rich as making more than $250K dollars, and poor as making less than $150K dollars. He has also promised that he will cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Are such estimates correct? The creators of ElectionTaxes.com claim to have developed a Web site that calculates and compares the taxes one would pay between 2009-2012 under the economic plans of John McCain and Barack Obama. ElectionTaxes.com is a collaboration between the University of Southern Maine (USM) and Quantrix, which is a company that develops and markets business model and analytics software. Jeff Gramlich, an accounting professor at USM, stands by his tax model:
ElectionTaxes came about from the desire to cut through the political rhetoric of the 2008 election and allow taxpayers to objectively determine the impact of each Presidential candidate’s tax plan on their taxes. Taxes are an important aspect of a President’s general set of policies as they reveal the candidate’s approach to the economy and how she or he will address the money issues that are sure to arise. The problem is that tax policy in our modern economy is inherently complex and candidates often revert to sound bites and generalizations rather than detailed explanations when discussing their plans. Unfortunately, in the absence of better information, negative campaign ads are the things that stick with voters.
Ostensibly, the site appears to be objective. Gramlich reserved an “assumptions” tab listing 27 hypotheses that he believes may affect the estimates. He also included a comments section to encourage feedback. The professor assures users he will closely review each insight for possible flaws to his tax model. The presidential candidates and their surrogates are yet to comment on the model.