McCain admits to pandering on taxes: ‘I have to be against tax increases, as you know.’

hw.gifLast month, after incurring the wrath of hardline anti-tax conservatives for saying that tax increases weren’t “off the table” for fixing Social Security, he caved to his base and made “an updated version” of George H. W. Bush’s infamous “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge. In Aspen yesterday, McCain admitted that he was in a box on Social Security and taxes, saying, “I have to be against tax increases, as you know“:

McCain has called for a bipartisan effort to fix Social Security and infuriated some conservatives by saying that everything, including increasing payroll taxes, could be on the table. He said today that “you know I’m opposed to tax increases” when Isaacson asked him about it. “I think I can convince people on the other side of the table that we do not need tax increases.”

When Isaacson said the proposal would have to be on the table to be negotiated off the table, McCain drew a smattering of laughter when he said “I have to be against tax increases, as you know.”

McCain is stuck in the “rhetorical trap” of conservative anti-tax fundamentalism, which, as Matthew Yglesias explains, is denial of policy reality based on having “spent the past 30 years trying to convince people that any hint of tax increase for any purpose is the purest evil.”

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UPDATE: Watch McCain admit his pandering: