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“Senator Obama believes that the tens of millions of families working hard and paying payroll taxes do not think that tax cuts are a form of ‘welfare’ or ‘redistribution’ - they think it is only fair to reward work,” said Jason Furman, the Obama campaign’s chief economic adviser.

“Evidently, John McCain, who also proposes to make his health tax credit refundable, appears to agree,” Mr. Furman told The Washington Times.

“One can argue that while you don’t pay income taxes, you are paying Social Security payroll taxes and this is a tax cut against that,” said Roberton Williams, principal research associate at the Tax Policy Center. “It depends on whether you consider [the taxpayers’] income tax liability or their total federal tax liability.”

Mr. Williams did not necessarily dispute critics of Mr. Obama’s tax plan who maintain that his refundable tax plan is a form of income redistribution from wealthier taxpayers in the top tax bracket who would see their taxes raised to pay for tax relief for middle- and lower-income taxpayers.

Asked whether the transfer of taxes from high earners to middle- and low-income earners was a way of redistributing the nation’s income, Mr. Williams said, “You could certainly view it that way because both [tax] proposals are in the same tax plan. There’s no question that’s one way to perceive the tax plan.”

To pay for his middle-class tax cuts, Mr. Obama would raise the top marginal tax rate on Americans earning more than $250,000 to 35 percent from 30.6 percent. According to the IRS, the top 5 percent of all income earners in 2004 paid 57.13 percent of all income taxes.

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