Club for Growth Watching McCain

by Sean Hackbarth

The Club for Growth is doing what it does best: holding Republicans accountable to the conservative principles they espouse. Their latest target is none other than Sen. John McCain. Club for Growth sent at letter to him after he left the door open to raising taxes to fix Social Security:

We listened with concern yesterday to your interview with George Stephanopoulos on Social Security. When asked if you would be open to raising the payroll tax, you refused to rule out a tax increase, saying “There is nothing that’s off the table.”

This statement was particularly shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances. In a March 2007 interview with Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, you ruled out accepting tax increases as part of a compromise to entitlement reform. And on February 17 of this year, you told George Stephanopoulos, “No new taxes . . . In fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT.”

Club president Pat Toomey asked for clarification which he got from campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds:

There is no imaginable circumstance where he’d raise taxes; it’s not even in his record, and it’s not in any proposal that he’s put forward. I can tell you that with 100% certainty.

McCain’s relationship with the conservative base isn’t strong enough to withstand hesitation on a core issue (taxes). McCain himself should step out in front and reaffirm that his statement was more of a negotiation position. He wants to get Democrats and Republicans together to find a solution to Social Security because that’s the only way politically it will happen. By having tax increases on the table McCain would at least let Democrats suggest them. That doesn’t mean McCain would accept them. In the same interview with George Stephanopoulos McCain said, “I don’t want tax increases.”

I admit McCain’s tepid relationship to conservatives should make them warry. It’s up to the candidate to be clear what he intends to do if President.

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2 Responses to “Club for Growth Watching McCain”

1

Okay so when you compare

“refused to rule out a tax increase, saying “There is nothing that’s off the table.”

to

“There is no imaginable circumstance where he’d raise taxes”

where do you find even a smidgen of straight talk?

Those are weasel words if I ever heard them.

2

I may be overly generous but I think McCain let himself get caught in some process-speak. He’s said he’s never voted to raise taxes, and the Romney campaign never jumped on that statement.

The fear is McCain would “grow” while President. Which in Washington-speak means becoming more liberal. McCain needs to address this while also dealing with the reality of ballooning federal spending and deficits.

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