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Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008

Think You Know John McCain?

His tax plan would benefit the rich

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In Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s hour-long acceptance speech last Thursday, he mentioned Iraq only twice, Russia three times and taxes eight times. But did McCain speak the truth about his tax plan?

“I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can,” he told the Republican Party faithful gathered in St. Paul, Minn. “My opponent will raise them.”

That argument is repeated in various McCain-sponsored ads that attack Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s tax plan, including statements that Obama backs “painful tax increases on working American families” and that Obama and the Democrats are “ready to tax, ready to spend.”

But a nonpartisan analysis of McCain’s and Obama’s tax proposals show that McCain is simply repeating a lie over and over. Obama will not raise taxes on the middle class and working families, as McCain alleges. But he will raise taxes on the wealthy.

McCain, on the other hand, will give rich people big tax breaks, while the middle class won’t be as lucky if the Arizona Republican becomes president. In fact, people who earn the average Wisconsin income of $34,476 would see their tax bill decrease $892 under Obama. But they’d get a much smaller tax break—$113—under a President McCain.

The Average Taxpayer Would Do Better Under Obama

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that while McCain would cut taxes overall to a greater degree than Obama, McCain’s plans would also increase the national debt more than Obama’s plan would because McCain hasn’t offset those tax cuts with spending cuts. The candidates would both cut taxes, but they are giving tax breaks to very different Americans. McCain’s tax cuts are targeted to the wealthy and the ultra-wealthy, while Obama would cut taxes on middle class wage earners and those who are struggling.

The Tax Policy Center found that middle-income taxpayers would see a 3% increase in their after-tax earnings, about $1,400, under McCain’s plan. But these same average American taxpayers would have more in their pocket—about $2,200 annually, or a 5% increase in their earnings—under Obama.

Contrast that to how the wealthy would make out under McCain, who would give more tax breaks to the top earners than President Bush did. The Republican would cut taxes on the wealthiest 1% by more than $125,000, while Obama would do the opposite and raise their taxes by about $19,000 annually.

Take, for example, people who earn more than $2.8 million a year. These lucky folks will get a tax break of more than a quarter of a million dollars—$269,364, according to the Tax Policy Center—if McCain becomes president. But these high earners would get an average tax increase of $701,885 under Obama, which means that the wealthy would be shouldering more of the tax burden. McCain would let them off the hook. But if you’re not as wealthy as these folks, McCain isn’t as generous.

Those who earn less than $161,000 would see a smaller tax break under McCain than under Obama. But you won’t hear that in McCain’s false attack ads.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.