Monday, February 25, 2008
Now that the Arizona senator is the presumptive Republican nominee, it's worth asking what sorts of tax policies he would push for as President. Our honest answer: We have no idea. He has held several views and his recent explanations don't quite explain his various policy permutations. As our Congressional report card covering the years 2001 through 2006 shows, CTJ has given McCain an "A" in some years and an "F" in other years. But one might think that the "real" John McCain could be found by digging deeper, farther back into his history.
So it's worth looking at McCain's record before he ran for president in 2000. As explained in a report issued by CTJ on the senator's record back then, McCain often voted against bills that would reduce the deficit by closing tax loopholes (apparently "pork" is OK in his eyes if it's done through the tax code) or raising tax rates. He did vote in favor of the sweeping revenue-neutral tax reform bill in 1986 (along with an almost unanimous senate), but after the Republicans took over Congress in the 1990s, he sided with his party on bills to provide unaffordable and unnecessary tax cuts.
During his campaign for president in 2000 and for quite a while thereafter, something strange happened to John McCain. He strongly opposed the most central planks in the GOP platform and the driving force behind the conservative movement: tax cuts. Specifically, McCain was the only Republican senator to vote against the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. It is hard to exaggerate how amazing these votes are, since tax cuts have been the main policy proposal offered by Republican presidential candidates in almost every election since 1980. ...
Then, as he contemplated another run for the presidency, McCain had another change of heart. ... McCain has fully channeled his party’s orthodoxy against taxes on the wealthy. He says he wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. He wants to slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% ...
Now, it would be one thing if John McCain actually offered some "straight talk" to explain all this. If he simply said he was wrong, or he was temporarily blinded by his rage at the GOP, that would be at least understandable. But instead, he has offered an explanation so convoluted that it defies belief.