June 23, 2008


The evolution of John McCain : As a maverick Senator, he took pride in just saying no to everyone's wish list. But as a presidential contender, he's become a tax cutter and defender of home mortgages. The inside story of how the candidate is shaping his plan to fix the economy. (David Whitford, June 23, 2008, Fortune Magazine)

Perhaps no issue has tested McCain over the years more than taxes. Four years ago, before he launched his second campaign for President, McCain was the keynote Republican speaker at a bipartisan conference on the budget titled "Restoring Fiscal Sanity - While We Still Can." The event was sponsored by a half-dozen think tanks representing all points on the political spectrum. "I'm a proud Republican," McCain said then, by way of introduction. "I'm a Barry Goldwater Republican. I revere Ronald Reagan and his party of limited government. Sadly, that party is no longer." He went on to sharply criticize colleagues on both sides of the aisle for runaway "pork-barrel spending" and "expanding entitlements," but he didn't quit there. He also talked about taxes. "And why do we have to have tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans when the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest Americans is growing?" he wondered. Later he added, "We're at war. Tell me one time in the history of this country when this nation was at war when we've enacted tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest."

McCain tried valiantly to hold the line. Twice he voted against Bush's tax cuts, in 2001 and 2003, angering many in his own party. But that was then. Now, first step, McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent; then he wants to keep going. He would repeal the alternative minimum tax, slash the corporate tax, increase the tax exemption for children, and, at least temporarily, allow businesses to write off the full cost of capital investments in one year. It'll be expensive - the independent Tax Policy Center estimates, optimistically, that McCain's plan would add $4.5 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years, compared with $3.3 trillion for Obama's plan - but McCain insists that he can balance the budget in four years with promised savings from running a tighter ship and increased tax revenues as the economy expands.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), who has sharply criticized McCain in the past, says now, "I'm happy." Norquist still can't get McCain to sign ATR's no-new-taxes pledge, but he has the next best thing: video of the candidate promising as much on national television, three times. "With the campaign's approval," says Norquist, "we took those three YouTube videos and sent them to everybody and their brother on the planet." Now when Norquist convenes his weekly Wednesday strategy meeting at ATR headquarters in Washington, there's always a McCain campaign representative at the table. Apparently all is forgiven. "He was just voting against Bush in general" is how Norquist explains McCain's reversal. "I think it was pique."

...which explains his position on taxes and the activists flocking to him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 23, 2008 8:15 PM

"he was just voting against Bush in general...it think it was just pique"

And you still don't understand why conservatives and even moderate GOPers are leery of him. Luckily he is running against possibly the worst Dem candidate since Carter.

McCain's sudden love of tax cuts appears too much like an election year switch which may or may not last past the election. Watch for the MSM to play back McCain's own anti-tax cut rhetoric from early 2000s to counter.

Posted by: AWW at June 23, 2008 10:43 PM

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.


Posted by: James at June 24, 2008 3:34 AM

Maybe. Maybe it was all a brilliant Maskirovska. Remember, for all these years, McCain has been programming his image as the maverick, the non-Bush.

Lord, I do love how that man wears his baseball cap! He wears the thing EVERYWHERE, squared away, BEAUTIFUL!

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 24, 2008 4:08 AM

Conservatives and moderates aren't.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2008 6:32 AM


No one would want Obama running the country at a time it mattered.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2008 6:33 AM

That fighter-pilot pique is why McCain will be a terrible president.

Posted by: b at June 24, 2008 12:11 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus