On ABC’s This Week today, host George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about Democratic proposals to protect “middle-income Americans” and “only raise” taxes “on the wealthy.” In response, McCain bristled at Stephanopoulos’s distinction, mockingly warning against rhetoric that talks about “who the, quote, ‘wealthy’ are in America”:
MCCAIN: But more importantly, we’ll argue about whether we should increase your taxes or decrease them. Obviously, I’m for decreases in taxes. Maybe Americans want their taxes increased. We’ll argue about…
STEPHANOPOULOS: … for middle-income Americans, only raise them on the wealthy?
MCCAIN: Oh, yes, sure, the wealthy, the wealthy. Always be interested in when people talk about who the, quote, “wealthy” are in America. I find it interesting.
Now that he has to court the hardline anti-tax factions of the conservative movement, McCain is changing his story on tax policy. In 2000, 2001, and 2003, McCain was one of the people “interested” in talking about “who the, quote, ‘wealthy’ are in America” when he argued against Bush’s tax cuts that “mostly benefit the wealthy“:
“There’s one big difference between me and the others–I won’t take every last dime of the surplus and spend it on tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy.” [McCain campaign commercial, January 2000]
“I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers.” [McCain Senate floor statement, May 21, 2001]
“But when you look at the percentage of the tax cuts that–as the previous tax cuts–that go to the wealthiest Americans, you will find that the bulk of it, again, goes to wealthiest Americans.” [NBC’s “Today,” Jan. 7, 2003]
McCain now appears more interested in protecting the “wealthy” than he does in straight talk.