Posted: April 15, 2008 1:59 PM
McCain Focuses on Tax Reform in Newly Unveiled Economic Plan
In a wide-ranging economic plan released Tuesday, Sen. John McCain outlined his proposal to help struggling families with housing foreclosures and higher gas and food prices, cut back on wasteful spending in Washington, reform taxes, promote trade and help provide job security.
But his economic pitch came as new poll data show 70 percent of Americans disapprove of how the current Republican administration is handing the economy. The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 59 percent of Republicans approved of President Bush’s economic policies - down from 70 percent in February and his career average of 80 percent. Among Democrats, only 6 percent approve of his performance.
In his economic plan, McCain proposed to permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, lower corporate tax rates, and double the personal exemption for dependents to ease the tax burden on families. His plan would “keep tax rates low” and “make it harder to raise taxes.”
Tuesday April 15 is tax day and with the deadline for Americans to file at midnight, McCain dedicated large parts of his speech to taxes, making sure to draw the lines between his plan and the Democrats.
His campaign send an e-mail to supporters with the subject “Have you filed your taxes?” and asking for donations. “If one of my Democratic opponents is elected in November, you can be certain your tax rate will increase across the board.”
To address higher gasoline prices, McCain proposed suspending all taxes on gas for a summer tax holiday. “The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus — taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up.” The federal government taxes 18.4 cents per gallon, according to McCain’s campaign.
He repeated his plan to help homeowners suffering from foreclosures by offering eligible homeowners the chance to refinance their subprime mortgages and get federally financed 30-year mortgages.
McCain was criticized for flip-flopping on his housing plan, saying earlier in his campaign that the federal government should intervene.
“It is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers,” McCain said on March 26 to a group of Hispanic business owners in California.
In April, McCain struck a different tone and proposed offering homeowners the chance to replace a mortgage they cannot afford with a federal guaranteed loan.
“There is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority number one is to keep well-meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes,” McCain said on April 11 to another group of small business owners in Brooklyn.
The economy, McCain has admitted, is not his strongest suit, saying in December that, “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” according to the Boston Globe. McCain has since said he knows the economy better than his Democratic rivals.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s policy director Neera Tanden released a statement criticizing McCain’s economic plan on Tuesday:”John McCain is offering and economic strategy today that American’s simply cannot afford: a George Bush-redux of corporate windfalls and tax cuts for the wealthy that will bankrupt our government and leave working families with the bill.”
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama also responded to McCain’s outline, telling a gathering of construction labor unions in Washington: “I don’t think America can afford four more years of the failed Bush policies, and that’s what he’s offering,”
Both Clinton and Obama have been outlining their own economic plans on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.