On Fox News, Steele misled on McCain's opposition to tax cuts, support for spending cuts

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On America's Election HQ, Fox News contributor Michael Steele asserted that Sen. John McCain was "against the Bush tax cuts because it didn't address spending." While McCain now says he voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts, it was not the reason he gave in 2001 on the floor of the Senate. McCain said, "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 the May 12 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ, Fox News contributor and GOPAC chairman Michael Steele asserted that Sen. John McCain was "against the Bush tax cuts because it didn't address spending." In fact, while McCain now says he voted against the Bush tax cuts because they were not paired with spending cuts -- an assertion by McCain that many in the media have uncritically repeated -- it was not the reason he gave in 2001 on the floor of the Senate. In a May 26, 2001, floor statement, McCain explained his opposition to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 conference committee report -- the final version of Bush's initial tax-cut package, which became law. McCain said, "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." McCain made no mention of deficit concerns or the absence of offsetting spending cuts in his speech.

Further, Steele stated that McCain is "going to address spending in addition to putting -- keeping those tax cuts in place." But McCain has already altered the timeline under which he has pledged to balance the budget; after asserting in February that he would do so in four years, he said in April that he would within eight years, claiming that "economic conditions are reversed." In addition, several media reports on McCain's economic plan have indicated that McCain has not stated specifically what spending he would cut and cited, in the words of an April 18 Bloomberg News article, "[e]conomists and nonpartisan analysts" who say that much larger spending cuts than McCain has outlined would be necessary to balance the budget.

From the May 12 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:

BILL HEMMER (co-anchor): Now, to the two biggest fears: First for Democrats, Chris, McCain, the moderate -- he believes in global warming and is willing to do something about it. Does that concern you?

CHRIS KOFINIS (former communications director for former Sen. John Edwards [D-NC]): Not really. I mean, listen, the John McCain of 2000, the maverick independent that I think had a strong affinity amongst a lot of voters across, you know, party lines is gone. I mean, the part of the problem is he chose to change his positions on key issues. He changed his positions on withdrawal. He used to be for it, now he's against it. He used to be against Bush tax -- the Bush tax cuts, now he's for them.

I mean, the problem is he's chosen to bear-hug Bush in order to win the nomination. I understand that. It was a political calculation. But it was a political calculation that's going to cost him dearly in the fall. So, it was not a great strategy, but it may have won him the nominee -- clearly won him the nomination.

The problem is, it's going to make it almost impossible for him to win the general, because he is going to be basically responsible, whether he likes it or not, for the last eight years of the Bush record, and you can't simply ignore that.

HEMMER: Michael, I know you're chuckling over there. Make it quick, because I want to get to your biggest fear in a second here.

STEELE: Chris is so precious. He is so precious.

KOFINIS: Michael, do you agree with me?

HEMMER: Precious. Precious.

STEELE: Chris, you are so out of your mind, my friend. Look, you know, he'd -- he was for the withdrawal because there was no strategy. He put the strategy in place; it's called the surge. He was for -- against the Bush tax cuts because it didn't address spending. He's going to address spending in addition to putting -- keeping those tax cuts in place.

I think there's a legitimate discussion for the American people to weigh as we go into this campaign against a potential nominee, who has not the experience, nor the time on this national stage, to even show that he has an understanding of how you interlink the economy, with the war, with the global policies that need to keep this country in the same position.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Michael Steele
Show/Publication
America's Election HQ
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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