Ignoring Obama's proposed tax cuts and McCain's Social Security remarks, Rove claimed McCain "opposes tax increases and Obama favors them"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In a Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove claimed that "[Sen. John McCain] opposes tax increases and [Sen. Barack] Obama favors them." In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said that it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes." Moreover, McCain himself recently suggested he would be open to raising Social Security payroll taxes.

In an August 7 Wall Street Journal column, Fox News contributor Karl Rove claimed that "[Sen. John McCain] opposes tax increases and [Sen. Barack] Obama favors them." In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families, and McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said that it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes." Moreover, contrary to Rove's assertion that McCain "opposes tax increases," McCain recently suggested he would be open to raising Social Security payroll taxes, drawing a stern rebuke from many conservatives, including the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

According to Obama's "Tax Fairness Plan," "Barack Obama's plan will provide $80-85 billion in tax relief to America's workers, seniors, and homeowners." Obama's proposed tax cuts include "a new 'Making Work Pay' tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family," a "universal mortgage credit" which "will provide the average recipient with approximately $500 per year in tax savings," and the "eliminat[ion]" of "all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year." In a July 28 Time article, reporter Michael Scherer wrote: "You already know the old argument: Republicans cut taxes, Democrats raise them. Except it's not true, at least not in the way that it seems. But don't take my word for it. Here is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's chief economic policy adviser. 'I used to say that Barack Obama raises taxes and John McCain cuts them, and I was convinced,' he told me in a phone interview this week. 'I stand corrected [about Obama's plans].' [brackets in original] " Scherer further reported that when taking into account Obama's proposal to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the "whole range of tax cuts, for poor seniors, working people, homeowners and parents, as well as for health-care expenses and even renewable energy" that Obama has also proposed, "[t]he net effect, according to experts in both campaigns and independent analysts, would be a reduction in government revenue over 10 years. In other words, a tax cut."

During the July 27 edition of ABC's This Week, after host George Stephanopoulos asked if "payroll taxes are on the table," McCain responded: "There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions, and I'll articulate them. But nothing's off the table." McCain had previously pledged there would be "no new taxes" in a McCain administration. In a July 30 editorial about McCain's remarks on This Week, headlined "McCain's Tax Blunder," the Wall Street Journal asserted that McCain "tried to give up the tax issue," and further wrote: "Meeting with us last December, before the primaries, [McCain] declared that 'I will not agree to any tax increase,' repeating the phrase for emphasis. He did not say any tax increase with the exception of Social Security." Additionally, the Associated Press reported in a July 28 article that McCain's comments about Social Security "drew a strong response Monday from the Club for Growth, a Washington anti-tax group," which stated in a letter to McCain that his remarks were "shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances."

From Rove's August 7 Wall Street Journal column:

In the coming weeks, he needs to lay out a bold domestic reform program. He gave a taste on energy, but with a few missteps. He should appear in front of manufacturing plants where jobs depend on affordable energy, small businesses affected by fuel prices, and farms hurt by skyrocketing fertilizer costs -- and not in front of oil rigs. He needs to describe the consequences of specific domestic policy decisions. He must explain how his proposals on energy, health care, jobs and education will make a difference for ordinary families.

Mr. McCain also needs to elevate his arguments. It's not only that he opposes tax increases and Mr. Obama favors them. Mr. McCain must also make the principled case that there should be a limit to what government can take from its citizens. This argument will appeal to a large majority of voters. The top income tax rate is 35% and, according to the Tax Foundation, 89% of Americans believe that government should take no more than 30% from anyone's paycheck.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes, Elections
Network/Outlet
Wall Street Journal
Person
Karl Rove
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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