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10.01.2008 0

Typical Flip Flop or Earnest Change?

  • On: 10/13/2008 12:54:57
  • In: Taxes

  • Since sealing the Republican presidential nomination in February, Senator John McCain has clearly had a difficult time energizing the conservative base of his party. They feel their nominee does not represent a traditional, small-government political philosophy. And with good reason. Among other things, one aspect that Mr. McCain’s critics have focused on is his fiscal views, specifically with regard to the Senator’s blatant class-warfare opposition to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.

    In 2001, Mr. McCain voiced the problems he had with the tax cuts:

    “I’d like to see much more of this tax cut shared by working Americans. . . . I think it still devotes too much of it to the wealthiest Americans.”

    In 2003 his opposition remained the same:

    “There’s a theory, I think, that’s prevalent – it was true in the 2001 tax cuts – that if you give it to the wealthy people, then they will then, you know, create jobs, et cetera. The interesting thing to me is that most economists will tell you that it’s the middle-income Americans that have been keeping the economy afloat.”

    However, by 2008, things seem to have changed.

    Not only does Senator McCain no longer oppose the tax cuts he twice voted against, but he also seeks to pursue even more taxpayer-friendly policies, pushes for stronger spending restraint, and focuses on a supply-side economics approach to the sluggish economy. The fact is, if Mr. McCain sounded any more like Ronald Reagan at this point, we’d be checking the bed for Bonzo.

    Perhaps most shocking of all is that Mr. McCain appears earnest in his conversion.

    In a speech given last Wednesday, McCain clearly outlined his economic goals as president, indicating his support for low-tax-rate incentives to stimulate growth in the economy:

    “As president, I intend to act quickly and decisively to promote growth and opportunity. I intend to keep the current low income and investment tax rates. And I will pursue tax reform that supports the wage-earners and job creators who make this economy run, and help them to succeed in a global economy…I have proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rate from the second highest in the world to one on par with our trading partners; to keep businesses and jobs in this country.”

    Larry Kudlow stated yesterday that McCain’s plan to reduce the corporate tax rate could be his single-most-important tax reform:

    “Not only will it enhance America’s global competitiveness, since we have the second highest corporate tax among large countries. But a number of studies show that roughly 70 percent of the benefits from a lower corporate tax will flow to the workforce in the form of higher real wages and more jobs.”

    Also akin to The Gipper, Mr. McCain called for a continued commitment to free trade and a serious reduction of the estate tax, which he called “one of the most unfair tax laws on the books.” Similarly, the Senator vowed to boldly wield his veto pen, using it “as needed” to strike down every bill with earmarks. He would also seek a constitutionally valid line-item veto to eliminate pork-barrel spending “once and for all.”

    Is all of this simply too good to be true? Does this last round of remarks represent a Kerry-esque flip-flop engineered to woo wary conservative voters—or can we truly believe him when he proclaims the dire need to reclaim “our good name as the party of spending restraint”?

    The answer is that we simply won’t know which McCain will show up on Inaugural Day should he succeed in energizing the base and upsetting Barack Obama. The best we can do at this point is hope he checks his class warfare—and not his campaign promises—at the Oval Office door. Otherwise, it could be bedtime for an economic turnaround.

    ALG CTA: Journalists nationwide who agree with Mr. McCain’s new supply-side message need to publicize his recent speech and hold the Senator accountable for his claims. Mr. McCain must understand that Republican voters want nothing less than a government dedicated to fiscal responsibility and that he must deliver on his promises—regardless of what Siren Songs he may hear from the other side of the Aisle.

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