Reports by ABC, USA Today, and CNN purported to contrast the positions of President Bush and John McCain on tax cuts by noting only McCain's initial opposition to Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. None of the outlets noted, however, that McCain has changed his position and now supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, or that McCain has repeatedly claimed that he initially opposed the tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts, reasoning he did not mention in his 2001 floor statement explaining his vote.
An Associated Press article on President Bush's plan to endorse Sen. John McCain reported: "Bush will be giving his stamp of approval to a GOP maverick who's crossed swords with him on things like campaign finance, tax cuts and waterboarding. But the White House insists that Bush's endorsement will be heartfelt." In fact, while McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, he now supports making the tax cuts permanent.
CNN's Tom Foreman uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's claim that he voted against President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts because "he wanted reductions in spending, too." But in a 2001 floor statement explaining his opposition, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he stated, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
An Associated Press article described Sen. John McCain as a "deficit hawk" but provided no support for that characterization. While the article mentioned that McCain has called for making permanent President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, it did not note the absence of budget offsets to pay for them. Further, McCain repeatedly voted in favor of emergency supplemental spending bills for the Iraq war that exacerbated the deficit.
NBC's David Gregory stated: "John McCain is not going to pander to the right. He did that once and it didn't work." The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan both agreed, asserting: "He's not going to do it." In fact, McCain has attempted to satisfy conservative Republicans by reversing his positions on issues such as taxes, immigration, and the religious right.
On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle claimed that while in "most campaigns," "Republicans begin on the right for their campaign and come to the middle for the fall," John McCain is "in the middle and he has to swing right for the primaries." In fact, McCain has already shifted rightward on immigration and taxes, and McCain himself has asserted that he is a "mainstream conservative."
The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that Sen. John McCain's "differences with the White House are well known," and added: "He did not vote for the president's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, a sore point with groups like the conservative Club for Growth." However, Stolberg did not note that after opposing the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, McCain now supports making the tax cuts permanent -- a position Bush noted during his Sunday interview.
In an article on Sen. John McCain's efforts "to rally conservatives to his candidacy," The Washington Post asserted that McCain "has diverged from conservatives on several issues, including campaign finance legislation, immigration policy and President Bush's tax cuts." But, unlike a previous Post article that documented McCain's "flip-flops" on taxes and immigration, this one did not mention that McCain has changed his positions on those two issues to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party.
A Washington Post article described Sen. John McCain as a "conservative maverick" and asserted that he has committed "heresies on taxes, immigration and campaign finance." Yet Kane did not mention that on immigration and taxes, McCain has either reversed or shifted his positions to more closely align himself with the mainstream of the Republican Party.
On Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer described opposition to President Bush's 2001 tax cuts on the grounds that "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief" as "almost like the class warfare argument that the Democrats make," echoing an attack Republicans commonly use against Democratic positions.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity echoed President Bush's misleading claim during the State of the Union address that "116 million American taxpayers ... would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800" if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, a claim that Frank Luntz further exaggerated. In fact, because the tax cuts are largely skewed toward the wealthiest Americans, the "average of $1,800" figure cited by Bush dramatically overstates the impact of repealing the tax cuts on most Americans.
Fox News and The Wall Street Journal uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's claim that he originally voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts. And in its endorsement of McCain, The Arizona Republic wrote that McCain "opposed the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 because they arrived with no commensurate spending cuts." But in a floor statement during the Senate debate on the 2001 tax cut bill, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he stated, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
PolitiFact.com asserted that "[i]n 2001, [Sen. John] McCain voted against a $1.35-trillion tax cut package, arguing that the tax cuts should be balanced by spending cuts." This assertion is false. While McCain now claims that was his reason for voting against the tax cuts in 2001, that was not the reason he gave at the time of the vote itself. In a floor statement, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he stated: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief."
On MSNBC Live, Tamron Hall aired an ad from Sen. John McCain that accuses Mitt Romney of "chang[ing] positions like the wind" on his support for "the Bush tax cuts." But Hall did not mention that McCain himself has shifted positions on President Bush's tax cuts or that McCain has previously denounced "negative campaigns."