Norquist: ‘You Can’t Slam McCain For Wanting’ To Give Even More Tax Breaks To The Rich

Our guest bloggers are Robert Gordon and James Kvaal, Senior Fellow and Domestic Policy Advisor, respectively, at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

In a report last month, we noted that John McCain’s tax agenda largely mirrors conservative tax activist Grover Norquist’s wish list. Norquist himself has boasted that McCain’s agenda is “the Americans for Tax Reform’s entire agenda.” Their tax plan will do virtually nothing for the middle class, distributing only 9 percent of the tax cuts to the bottom 80 percent of households.

Today, Norquist responded to our critique of the McCain-Norquist agenda, according to ABC’s The Note. He says:

You can’t slam [McCain] for wanting to continue the non-progressive 2003 bill if you don’t give him credit for extending . . . the tax cuts that are weighed more heavily on a percentage basis to low-income people.

Actually, we did just the opposite: rather than “slamming” McCain on the 2003 tax cuts, we excluded them – as well as the other expiring Bush tax cuts — from our analysis (p. 4). Instead, we showed how McCain’s new tax cuts, above and beyond continuing the Bush ones, provide even less relief to the middle class than Bush’s.

The table analyzes just what McCain proposes beyond the extension of current law: corporate tax cuts and a repeal of the alternative minimum tax, huge tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers.


Most progressives support extending Bush’s middle-class tax relief, so that’s not what distinguishes McCain’s agenda. What distinguishes McCain’s agenda are two things: (1) his new tax cuts and (2) his support for extending Bush’s upper-income tax relief. Our analysis only includes #1. If we added #2, the distribution would look even worse.