John McCain: Tax Warrior
Conservatives don’t always agree. Many neocons don’t really care about the concerns of social conservatives, and some social conservatives would be just as happy to see America leave Iraq. The libertarian wing of the party, in many cases, is indifferent to either side; instead, they promote dismantling massive federal programs that are probably here to stay.
One thing all these groups agree upon, however, is the need for lower taxes. It is pretty much universally recognized on the Right that taxes are a necessary evil—that they kill initiative, stunt economic growth, and give the government far too much power over our lives. And fortunately, the Republican Party has nominated a man who is committed to slashing taxes across the board.
John McCain got the reputation as something of a supporter of high tax rates due to his opposition to the Bush tax cuts. His opposition to these cuts was inexcusable and weird—he now claims that he opposed them because the GOP wasn’t cutting spending enough, but at the time, his justification was the same “all the tax cuts are going to the rich” screed that the Democrats employed both then and now. Now, however, McCain has flip-flopped on the issue and now supports Bush’s tax cuts—and a lot more.
I don’t know what changed McCain’s mind, but he now supports a radically altered tax plan, and his proposals are very, very good. McCain supports cutting taxes on gasoline (which won’t cut fuel prices at all, but is better than letting our money get consumed by the government), the middle class (by repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax), and supports doubling the personal exemption for dependants. He would raise the exemption for the estate tax to $10 million, and would cut the tax to 15%. He wants to slash the corporate tax rate by ten percent, and supports a ban on internet and cell phone taxes.
And McCain does not just espouse cutting tax rates—he wants to fundamentally change the tax code. He wants to mandate a 3/5 Congressional majority to enact a tax hike, which slow the ratification of new taxes. More importantly, his plan would release Americans from the current bloated tax code. The new system would involve two flat rates—you fill in your income, and subtract the percentage owed in taxes. This would end most of the needless IRS red tape. According to some polls, Americans fear an IRS audit more than a mugging—McCain’s revamped tax codes would change all that. (And if anyone wanted to employ the old tax code, that option would be available to them).
In 1984, the first thing Walter Mondale did upon receiving the nomination was to promise to raise taxes. Barack Obama doesn’t want to make the same mistake. So on his official website, the entire issue of taxes seems strangely invisible, like you wandered into some parallel universe where taxes are no longer an important issue. There are two mentions of taxes on Obama’s Issues page—one involves the vaguely Orwellian sounding “Making Work Pay” tax credit (which would provide tax cuts to working class families, although these cuts are a pale shadow of the cuts involved in McCain’s plan), and a simplified tax form, which basically lets the government do your taxes for you. That seems to be the substance of Obama’s tax plan.
Obama spends more time criticizing John McCain’s tax plan. He claims that McCain’s tax cuts are bad because they would deprive the government of too much revenue. (Like that is a bad thing). Obama ignores the fact that lower taxes often mean increased government revenue, as the money saved is usually spent or invested, which causes economic growth, and hence more tax revenues.
John McCain has his flaws as a candidate. He does seem to support the idea of an activist federal government, and his immigration plan is truly dreadful. But his ideas on taxes are absolutely wonderful (they seem borrowed from the Fred Thompson campaign), and he deserves a lot of credit for them. On the issue of taxes, as on so many other issues, McCain is not just acceptable—he is really, really good.