Economist Basu gives GBC summary of Obama policy proposals

The more than 300 Greater Baltimore Committee members who attended the GBC’s Business Outlook 2009 Conference on Nov. 3 got a substantive glimpse of President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign proposals on economic issues, social security and defense.

Economist Anirban Basu offered the GBC audience a list of Obama’s proposal on issues ranging from income taxes to financial regulation. Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, compiled the list from information published by the Obama campaign.

Following are nine issues that will impact the economy and condensed summaries, from Basu’s presentation, of key Obama proposals:

Economic relief. Obama proposes $1,000 emergency energy rebates to families and $500 rebates to individuals. He also proposes penalty-free withdrawals from 401(k) and IRAs of 15 percent or $10,000 maximum.

Income taxes. Obama proposes tax cuts for middle class workers and tax increases for earners with family incomes of more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000 per year. He would extend most 2001 and 2003 tax cuts but raise the top marginal income tax rates to 36 percent and 39 percent. Obama also proposes eliminating taxes on seniors making less than $50,000 per year.

Estate taxes. Obama proposes to freeze the 2009 estate-tax structure, which includes a 45 percent tax on estates valued at more than $3.5 million per person.

Investments. Obama proposes to eliminate all capital gain taxes on small businesses and start-ups. He would raise the top long-term capital gain rate from the existing 15 percent to 20 percent for higher earners.

Retirement and social security. Obama proposes to implement a payroll tax of between 2 – 4 percent on incomes above $250,000, with employers and employees splitting the tax, and proposes to automatically enroll workers in a workplace retirement plan. He also proposes to encourage savings by implementing a tax credit to match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of savings for families earning less than $75,000.

Financial regulation. Obama proposes to consolidate regulatory agencies, have tougher liquidity, capital and disclosure requirements. He would also seek to subject unregulated businesses to federal oversight and toughen penalties for market manipulation.

Health care. Obama proposes income-related subsidies for health insurance and seeks to expand access to Medicaid, and to enact mandatory health care for children. He also supports requiring employers that don’t offer employee health care plans to contribute a percentage of payroll toward a national health plan. Small businesses would be exempt.

Energy. Obama proposes to require oil companies to exploit existing leases before seeking to engage in new drilling. He proposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies, which would be used to fund tax cuts for the middle class and the elderly. He would also seek to require 60 billion gallons of biofuel production annually in the U.S. by 2030.

Defense. Among other things, Obama proposes to shift resources from Iraq to Afghanistan and remove all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

Anirban Basu’s PowerPoint Presentation

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