Thursday, February 14, 2008

John "Kerry" McCain

There is a good editorial in the Wall Street Journal today by Kevin Stach about John McCain's fiscal record.

There is an interesting tidbit about the infamous Bush tax cuts which McCain voted against:
"In 2001, with the bitter primary battle still fresh, Mr. McCain voted against the final Bush tax-cut package. Why would he deviate from a pro-growth, tax-cutting position, built up over 17 years in Congress and dozens of votes, even after running on a tax-cut plan himself in 2000?

Mr. McCain's protest that he wanted spending cuts to accompany the Bush tax cuts has persuaded few conservatives. But what is not remembered is that, two weeks earlier, Mr. McCain voted to approve the final version of the Budget Resolution -- the blueprint used by congressional committees for spending and tax bills -- which included $1.35 trillion in tax cuts (the Bush proposal) coupled with a $661 billion cap on discretionary spending. When the promised spending cap never materialized, Mr. McCain denounced the wasteful earmarks and pork-barrel spending that he felt jeopardized the budget, and lodged the now famous protest vote against the tax cuts.
"

In other words, McCain voted for it before he voted against it. But I guess we won't hear him saying that.

9 comments:

William R. Barker said...

Going in backwards order, let me congratulate you on your two previous threads (Obama Mania Parts 1&2) and also applaud THIS thread.

In all three instances you're dealing with SPECIFICS... specific POLICY issues. Bravo!

So far I haven't posted any comments on the two Obama threads; quite frankly, both threads (but especially the first) are so long that I've been procrastinating on delving into them. I will though! (*WINK*) Just give me time! (*SMILE*)

As to this thread - the John "Kerry" McCain thread - allow me to start off by responding in brief to the WSJ op-ed. (I'll do this in a separate post.)

BILL

William R. Barker said...

"...a look at Mr. McCain's record in Congress over the past 25 years demonstrates a tax-cutting pedigree..."

No doubt! But while I'm a supply sider myself, there's a limit to my belief in supply side economics, just as there's tension between my support of "free trade" conditioned upon it being FAIR trade and in my view more beneficial to the US than harmful in the long as well as short terms. (I've written on this topic at length in the past.)

"...in 1983, the year he arrived in the House, Mr. McCain joined supply-siders by voting against legislation to place a "cap" on the third year of the Reagan tax cuts."

Gold star - right vote!

"A year later, Mr. McCain voted against a Democrat-sponsored tax reform bill that included $250 billion in tax increases and a deficit-reduction plan that contained another $51 billion in tax hikes."

While I certainly don't recall the specifics of that bill I'm guessing McCain voted the way I would have. (*SHRUG*)

"In 1989 -- in the face of rising deficits -- Mr. McCain voted for a pro-growth cut in the capital-gains tax to 35% and to expand tax-advantaged Individual Retirement Accounts."

I'm sure I approved of McCain's vote at the time and chances are I still approve... however... the problem I have here is that my unified theories on taxation don't look at capital gains in a vacuum. (Again... I've written extensively on this topic. I'm simply reminding you so that it's clear I'm not trying to "duck" any issues, but rather, that I'm trying to stay "on topic" without veering off too much. I'll gladly clarify any of my positions upon questioning.)

"...McCain and other supply-siders such as Connie Mack, Trent Lott and Phil Gramm broke ranks with George H.W. Bush and the GOP leadership to vote "no." [To vote "on" on the Bush Tax Increase of 1990.]"

At the time I strongly supported McCain. (Hell... I still hate Bush the Elder for breaking his word!) To be honest though, I'm not sure if I were to truly do all the research necessary to re-examine that bill from my present-day perspective (knowing what I know today) that I wouldn't now have more sympathy for the deficit reduction portion of the bill.

* To be continued...

BILL

William R. Barker said...

Throughout the 1990s, Mr. McCain was a reliable, down-the-line tax cutter."

Good! (*SMILE*)

"In 1992, he voted for an amendment by supply-side hero Sen. Bob Kasten to require a super-majority in Congress to raise taxes."

Good thought... but would probably require a Constitutional Amendment. (*SHRUG*) (Which by the way I'd support!)

"That same year, he joined just 37 other senators in pushing for Sen. Connie Mack's proposal to cut the capital gains tax to 15%."

And again... my position on capital gains is complicated by my notions of what's "fair" in a more perfect tax code - one that doesn't exist. Again... not ducking... simply remarking that my "problems" with the present-day tax code often force contradictions in my overall "pro-tax cuts" positions.

"Like every other Republican, Mr. McCain voted against President Clinton's 1994 budget that shattered George H.W. Bush's record for the largest tax increase in history."

Good. (*NOD*)

* To be continued...

BILL

William R. Barker said...

"In 1995, [McCain] was one of just 31 senators to vote for a bill to establish a $500 per child tax credit..."

See... perfect example of where *my* ideas of true "fair" conservatism conflict with the broader "coservatism" of popular opinion. I just don't believe that choosing to become a parent means that those who choose *NOT* to become parents should be forced to subsidize a tax benefit for those who do. (Basic opinion: TAXES should be INDIVIDUAL responsibilities - not "family" responsibilities.)

"...reduce the capital gains tax..."

We've been over this one. (*WINK*)

"...expand IRAs..."

Yep! Gold star!

"...eliminate the tax penalty on married couples."

Ditto! (And right in line with my basic beliefs on taxation being "individual" in nature.)

"[McCain] also voted for the Balanced Budget Act, which would have reduced spending by $894 billion while cutting taxes by $245billion."

Kudos. (*WINK*)

"In 1996, Mr. McCain voted in favor of establishing Medical Savings Accounts, allowing Americans to save tax-free to pay for medical expenses -- a proposal long-championed by supply-sider Steve Forbes."

All Hail McCain on that one!!! (As you know, I'm a big fan of HSA's and supported Forbes during his presidential runs.)

"In 1997, Mr. McCain voted on various tax cut bills that would have indexed the capital gains to inflation..."

Concur! It only makes sense. (*SHRUG*)

"[McCain voted in favor of a bill which allowed parents to invest up to $2,500 per year tax free in education savings accounts."

OPPOSE. Again... I stand for individual freedom and individual decision making. It's a choice to go to college vs. enter the military or the workforce or better yet start your own business; those who choose *NOT* to go to college shouldn't have to subsidize those who choose to go. (Besides that... such exemptions are inflationary and don't actually help the people they're intended to since the colleges simply RAISE tuition/room & board/fees to soak up for themselves the tax benefit the student and parents received.)

"On April 1, 1998, Mr. McCain voted in favor of lifting income thresholds for the 15% and 28% tax brackets, which would have generated a tax cut of $195 billion over five years."

I want EVERYONE to pay taxes. (*SHRUG*) Sure, I'm not against ALL "progressivity," but I am against ANYONE with income paying *NO* federal taxes. (And again, folks, as I've noted many times previously, the logic of not requiring "the poor" to pay federal taxes could in this technological age expand to all sorts of taxes - sales taxes for example - so ask yourself... if you support income threshholds for federal taxes, then logically how would you oppose income threshholds for ALL taxes...???)

* To be continued...

BILL

William R. Barker said...

"In 2000, [McCain] again voted to eliminate the federal marriage penalty and to repeal the "death" tax by 2010.

As with capital gains policy, my views on the "death tax" are far from cut and dry. Whether I "earn" wealth via salary... or via investment gains... or via inheritance... shouldn't the "earned income" be treated the same? Anyway... this is a complicated issue with many "what ifs."

"[McCain] also supported a bill to reduce the percentage of Social Security benefits taxed to 50% from 85%, restoring them to pre-Clinton levels."

In theory - according to the logic of the program - you can make a strong case that SS benefits shouldn't be taxed at all! On the other hand... in line with my general feelings on "income is income," you could make a case for full taxation of SS benefits. Rather than argue one position over the other let me simply poise this question: And HOW did McCain suggest the federal gov't "make up" for the tax "income" loss...???

* And now we come full circle to the paragraphs Ed highlighted in his thread post:

"Mr. McCain's protest that he wanted spending cuts to accompany the Bush tax cuts has persuaded few conservatives. But what is not remembered is that, two weeks earlier, Mr. McCain voted to approve the final version of the Budget Resolution -- the blueprint used by congressional committees for spending and tax bills -- which included $1.35 trillion in tax cuts (the Bush proposal) coupled with a $661 billion cap on discretionary spending. When the promised spending cap never materialized, Mr. McCain denounced the wasteful earmarks and pork-barrel spending that he felt jeopardized the budget, and lodged the now famous protest vote against the tax cuts."

* O.K. Taking that paragraph at face value it's hard to begrudge McCain some credit there... HOWEVER... it's the "face value" thing that's in dispute. We've all heard the clips. We've all heard McCain - the McCain of 2001 - SAYING that he based his vote not on the failure to get budget cuts, but rather, on his feeling that the tax cuts "favored the rich."

(*SHRUG*)

Anyway... we've got many, many months of McCain (and either Obama or Hillary or perhaps both!) policy analysis and philosophical analysis to go through. I look forward to it!

BILL

EdMcGon said...

I just don't believe that choosing to become a parent means that those who choose *NOT* to become parents should be forced to subsidize a tax benefit for those who do. (Basic opinion: TAXES should be INDIVIDUAL responsibilities - not "family" responsibilities.)

Bill,
The only flaw in this is the fact of who is supporting the children, who produce no taxable income (yet). Frankly, the cost of child-rearing alone is enough to argue for the tax credit and/or deduction.

Other than this one point, I agreed with everything else you had to say.

William R. Barker said...

Well... to paraphrase Ed Koch...

"If you usually agree with me, you're a wise man; if you ALWAYS agree with me... you must be nuts!"

(*GRIN*)

(*HANDSHAKE*)

In other words, Ed... I'll take what I can get!

BILL

Rodak said...

Bill-

I though Ed Koch said:

If it's yellow, let it mellow.
If it's brown flush it down?


Or was that another Ed Koch?

William R. Barker said...

He's a man of many quotes, Ed!

(*WINK*) (*GRIN*)

BILL