13 Mar 2007

And He’s Also Too Old

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Pat Toomey, whom Bush ought to have supported in a primary against Arlen Spector, explains why John McCain’s record makes him unacceptable as Republican nominee for the presidency.

The reduction of tax rates on income and investment is a cornerstone of limited-government philosophy and a powerful driver of economic growth. When the most important pro-growth tax cuts in a generation were proposed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, Sen. McCain vigorously opposed them. While he has more recently supported the extension of the Bush tax cuts and has previously proposed requiring a supermajority vote in Congress to raise taxes, the extent of his opposition in 2001 and 2003 supersedes any potentially redeeming votes.

Sen. McCain was one of only two Republican senators to oppose the 2001 tax cuts and one of only three GOP senators to oppose the 2003 reductions. Furthermore, his reason for opposing the cuts was taken straight from the playbook of the most radical left-wing Democrats. In 2001, Sen. McCain argued, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief.”

That statement is virtually indistinguishable from the class-warfare demagoguery used by Democrats like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. More importantly, it was grossly inaccurate. The Bush tax cuts lowered income taxes, and other taxes, for every American who paid them. In percentage terms, lower-income workers enjoyed the greatest savings, and today, upper-income workers pay a larger share of total income taxes than they did before the Bush tax cuts.

Sen. McCain did much more than just criticize the Bush tax cuts–he also joined leading liberal senators in offering and voting for amendments designed to undermine them. All in all, he voted on the pro-tax side of 14 such amendments in 2001 and 2003. These included an amendment he co-sponsored with Sen. Tom Daschle to limit the rate reduction in the top tax bracket to one percentage point and an amendment sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold against full repeal of the estate tax, aka the death tax. This latter vote is in keeping with Senator McCain’s 2002 vote against repealing the death tax…

Over the years, Sen. McCain has supported a number of other big-government bills, including an amendment that would authorize the government to set prices on prescription drugs under Medicare and an amendment to prohibit oil drilling in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

But of all his infringements on personal freedom, Sen. McCain’s persistent attacks on political speech are the most worrisome. The First Amendment is an important safeguard of pro-growth policies. When government strays from sound economic policies, citizens must be free to exercise their constitutional rights to petition and criticize those policies and the politicians responsible for them. The 2002 McCain-Feingold bill (or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), named in part for the Arizona senator who gave it life, seeks to squash political dissent by imposing grossly unconstitutional restrictions on citizen participation in political debate.

In defense of the bill’s provision severely limiting the freedom of private groups to run political TV ads, Sen. McCain argued in a Supreme Court brief, “These ads are direct, blatant attacks on the candidates. We don’t think that’s right.” He thus anointed himself the arbiter of appropriate political speech, worthy of deciphering which speech is “right” and which should be permitted in American political debate. His law constitutes the greatest modern infringement of the First Amendment right to political free speech. While bestowing significant advantages upon incumbent office holders, it has created neither a less corrupt political domain nor a more democratic one.

I would support Newt Gingrich, possibly Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson, but definitely not Giuliani or McCain.


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