In an article on Sen. John McCain's economic proposals, The Wall Street Journal reported that McCain "famously opposed President Bush's tax cuts a few years ago, saying they would irresponsibly swell the budget deficit." But, while that is the reason McCain now gives for having previously opposed the tax cuts, it was not the reason he gave in a 2001 floor statement explaining his opposition, in which he criticized the tax cuts for disproportionately benefiting the wealthy.
In the first sentence of an April 16 Wall Street Journal article on Sen. John McCain's economic proposals, staff writer Laura Meckler reported that McCain "famously opposed President Bush's tax cuts a few years ago, saying they would irresponsibly swell the budget deficit." While that is in fact the reason that McCain gives now for voting against the Bush tax cuts -- that they were not paired with spending cuts -- which many in the media have uncritically repeated, it was not the reason he gave in 2001 on the floor of the Senate. In his May 2001 statement explaining his opposition to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) conference committee report -- the final version of Bush's initial tax-cut package, which became law -- McCain said that while he supported an earlier version of the bill "that provided more tax relief to middle income Americans," he could not "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." He made no mention of deficit concerns or of the absence of offsetting spending cuts.
Few in the media have noted that on the campaign trail, McCain gives a different reason for originally opposing the tax cuts than he stated at the time.
From the April 16 Wall Street Journal article:
John McCain famously opposed President Bush's tax cuts a few years ago, saying they would irresponsibly swell the budget deficit. Now the Arizona senator not only supports extending those cuts indefinitely, he is backing more than $200 billion a year in new breaks.
The Republican presidential candidate's platform sets up a sharp clash with his eventual Democratic rival over taxes, spending and fiscal responsibility.