Hillary Clinton's Position on Taxes and the Middle Class

Hillary Clinton
Former First Lady, U.S. Sen. and Secertary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she believes in "collecting taxes in an equitable manner.". Getty Images

When it comes to taxes, Hillary Clinton has gone on record as saying she believes the wealthy are not paying their fair share - whether it's in the United States or developing countries. She has repeatedly campaigned against the Bush tax cuts and called for their expiration on certain Americans.

Taxing the Wealthy

Some of Clinton's most widely reported comments on tax policy came during a September 2012 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York in which the then-secretary of state appeared to call for higher taxes on the world's wealthiest citizens.

"One of the issues that I have been preaching about around the world is collecting taxes in an equitable manner, especially from the elites in every country. You know, I’m out of American politics, but it is a fact that around the world, the elites of every country are making money. There are rich people everywhere. And yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don’t invest in public schools, public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally."

Clinton was reportedly referring to tax inequities in developing countries, where corruption prevents the economy from growing. But she made similar remarks at the Brookings Institution in 2010 in reference to America's wealthiest citizens, calling tax inequality "one of the biggest international problems we have."

"The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues (the United States is) - whether it is individual, corporate, whatever the taxation forms are. Brazil has the highest tax-to-G.D.P. rate in the Western hemisphere. And guess what? It’s growing like crazy. The rich are getting richer, but they are pulling people out of poverty. There is a certain formula there that used to work for us until we abandoned it — to our regret, in my opinion. My view is that you have to get many countries to increase their public revenues."

Warren Buffett's Rule

Clinton's remarks appear to be supportive of the Buffett Rule, a controversial proposal by President Barack Obama to raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $1 million a year but pay a smaller portion of their earnings to the government than do middle-class workers.

The policy is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who called on the White House to raise taxes on the rich in an effort to reduce the nation's growing national debt. Buffett made similar remarks during the 2008 presidential campaign at a fundraiser for Clinton:

"The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent."

Bush Tax Cuts

Clinton called for an end to the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans put in place during President George W. Bush's administration, saying the reductions led to "cronyism, outsourcing the government in ways that haven’t saved us money and have reduced accountability."

Clinton made similar remarks in 2004 as a U.S. senator from New York, saying the Bush tax cuts would be repealed if a Democrat were elected to the White House that year. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good," she said.

During the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton said she would allow the Bush tax cuts to lapse if she were elected president.

"It’s just really important to underscore here that we will go back to the tax rates we had before George Bush became president. And my memory is, people did really well during that time period. And they will keep doing really well.