McCain Backtracks From ‘No New Taxes’ Pledge, Ditches His Social Security Plan In Favor Of Bush’s

Two weeks ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took the “Read My Lips” plunge, proclaiming that as president he would not raise taxes for any reason. “No new taxes,” he declared twice in an interview with ABC News. Watch it:

The Wall Street Journal reports today that McCain is now distancing himself from the pledge not to raise taxes, saying his statement was not a firm commitment:

Q: On ABC’s “This Week” on Feb. 17, in response to a question, “Are you a ‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes?” you replied, “No new taxes.” Did you mean that literally?

McCAIN: I’m not making a “read my lips” statement in that I will not raise taxes. But I’m not saying I can envision a scenario where I would, OK? But I’m not making it a centerpiece in my campaign.

In the WSJ interview, McCain appeared clueless about his own Social Security plan. In 2000, he supported President Bush’s efforts to divert part of Social Security payroll taxes to fund private accounts. Asked about his current position, McCain said, “I’m totally in favor of personal savings accounts.”

On his campaign website, however, McCain offers a different plan. He proposes “supplementing” the system with personally managed accounts, which, as the Wall Street Journal observed, would not be financed by diverting Social Security payroll taxes:


McCain denied there was a change in his position. “I’ll correct any policy paper that I’ve put out that might intimate that personal savings accounts are not a very important factor.” His website, however, has still not been changed to reflect his support for private accounts.

In light of McCain’s now-famous declaration that “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” conservative pundit David Frum said McCain needs to brush up his economic bona fides or will risk looking more clueless in “what may soon become a recession year.”

UPDATE: Carpetbagger adds:

He’s confused about the relationship between taxes and revenues; he’s confused about whether he thinks our economy is strong or not; and he’s confused about why interest rates even exist. And now he’s confused about his own no-new-taxes pledge, his own Social Security policy, and how he’ll pay for yet another round of reckless tax cuts.

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