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By Erin O'Neill July 22, 2012

Bill Pascrell claims Barack Obama has not raised taxes

Forget social issues. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell said he learned in his recent primary fight that the economy is at the forefront of people’s minds.

So while explaining the need to set aside distractions and reach a balanced approach to deal with national fiscal issues, the Democratic congressman tried to set straight President Barack Obama’s record on taxes.

"We need tax cuts, there’s no question about it," Pascrell said in a July 18 interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. But, he said, "this president has not raised taxes. He has not raised taxes ... and I haven't agreed with the president on everything, even as a Democrat, but he has not raised taxes. There have been so many myths about this presidency and they need to be clarified and maybe we'll do that during the election."

Has Obama really not raised taxes?

Thomas Pietrykoski, Pascrell’s spokesman, said the congressman was "referring to the overall effective tax rate for American families." Our colleagues at PolitiFact National found last year that for the average middle-class family, the effective tax rate -- how much the average taxpayer pays as a percentage of his income -- fell between 2008 and 2011.

But Pascrell didn’t make that distinction in the interview. And Obama has raised some taxes.

Obama earned a False last year from PolitiFact National for saying he "didn’t raise taxes once."

Soon after taking office the president signed a bill that increased the federal excise tax on tobacco products. That tax hike went into effect in 2009.

Then Obama signed the health care law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but often called ObamaCare. That law includes several tax increases, some of which have not yet gone into effect, though some are in place now.

For example, individuals who use indoor tanning services started paying a 10 percent tax in 2010.

Other taxes in the law -- such as additional Medicare taxes of 0.9 percent on individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples that make more than $250,000 -- don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013 or later.

And then there’s the individual mandate, a linchpin of the health care law that will require people who forego health insurance coverage to pay a fine. The U.S. Supreme Court said in a decision upholding most of the law that the mandate "may reasonably be characterized as a tax" and that "it is reasonable to construe" it as a tax.

Though these tax hikes may be relatively narrow in scope, they are examples of taxes increasing under Obama.

But Obama has also cut taxes.

The president said in 2011 that he "lowered taxes over the last two years." That statement earned a Mostly True from PolitiFact National.

The president’s stimulus bill included the "Making Work Pay" tax credit, which was intended to offset payroll taxes. The credit gave up to $400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns in 2009 and 2010.

Also, Obama and Congress reached a deal in 2010 to lower payroll taxes by 2 percent for one year. The reduced tax rate was later extended through the end of this year.

The tax cuts impacted a broader group, while the tax increases have had a more narrow reach.

Nevertheless, some taxes have still increased under Obama.

Our ruling

Pascrell said "this president has not raised taxes."

Some taxes have increased during Obama’s time in the White House. In his first months in office, Obama increased the federal excise tax on tobacco products and the national health care law includes a number of tax increases.

It’s also true that other taxes -- such as payroll taxes -- have been reduced during the president’s tenure.

However, it’s wrong to broadly state that Obama has not raised taxes.

We rate this claim False.

To comment on this ruling, go to

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Interview with U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, July 18, 2012

Interview with Thomas Pietrykoski, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, July 18 & 19, 2012

PolitiFact, President Barack Obama says he didn't raise taxes once, Feb. 7, 2011

PolitiFact, Mitt Romney says Barack Obama has raised taxes 19 times, Jan. 11, 2012

PolitiFact, Tax cut for 95 percent? The stimulus made it so, Jan. 28, 2010

PolitiFact, Snooki says Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning, June 21, 2010

PolitiFact, Mitt Romney says health care law's penalty is a tax, July 5, 2012

PolitiFact, Barack Obama said he lowered taxes over the past two years, Feb. 7, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, Crossroads GPS says the health care law raises taxes 18 times on people making less than $250,000, May 17, 2012

U.S. Treasury Department, Tobacco: Federal Excise Tax Increase and Related Provisions, accessed July 18, 2012
PolitiFact, Snooki says Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning, June 21, 2010

The Heritage Foundation, Obamacare and New Taxes: Destroying Jobs and the Economy, Jan. 20, 2011

H. R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

PolitiFact, Barack Obama says taxes are lower for middle class today than when he took office, Dec. 1, 2011, Payroll Tax Cut Extended to the End of 2012; Revised Payroll Tax Form Now Available to Employers, Feb. 23, 2012, The Making Work Pay Tax Credit, updated May 31, 2012, accessed July 19, 2012

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Bill Pascrell claims Barack Obama has not raised taxes

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