Obama tweaks tax plan after McCain criticism

Seems that the Obama campaign has taken some of Sen. McCain’s criticism to heart and decided to tweak a section of their tax plan to include a work requirement. The change was made mainly because McCain had been calling Sen. Obama’s proposal a form of “welfare” because it refunded money back to many citizens who do not pay taxes to begin with.

Report from ABC News

ABC News’ Teddy Davis, Hope Ditto, Arnab Datta, and Ferdous Alfaruque Report:

Facing criticism from John McCain that his tax plan constitutes “welfare,” Barack Obama recently added a work requirement to one of his proposals.

“They started saying this was welfare,” said Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee. “So, just so they would absolutely not be able to say that, we decided that for the last two percent we’ll simply add a work requirement.”

Goolsbee discussed the change to Obama’s universal mortgage credit while debating McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday.

The purpose of Obama’s 10 percent universal mortgage credit is to aid taxpayers who do not itemize when filing taxes. The Obama campaign estimates that it would provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.

Goolsbee referred to the number of non-working Americans who would benefit from the original understanding of Obama’s plan as an insignificant “sliver” when compared to the much larger number of working Americans who would benefit from Obama’s plan.

Although the number of non-working beneficiaries would have been just a “sliver” under the original understanding of Obama’s plan, Goolsbee said the Democratic nominee’s economic team decided to add a work requirement to it in order to block McCain from being able to characterize any aspect of his plan as “welfare.”

“When did this change? I’m just curious,” an incredulous Holtz-Eakin asked Goolsbee.

“About two weeks ago,” replied Goolsbee, adding that when the proposal was announced in September 2007, 98 percent of its benefits went to workers.

Nothing too major, however, it may illustrate that the Obama campaign fears McCain’s “welfare” criticism could catch hold with some voters.

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