An overflowing town hall in Tuscon, Arizona quickly turned hostile yesterday when constituents confronted Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on a range of issues from the debt ceiling deal to the war in Afghanistan. The event got off to a rocky start when many residents were turned away at the door because the room was not large enough. As McCain entered, he was greeted by sustained chanting of “Where are the jobs?”
McCain, apparently sensing the crowd’s anger, felt the need to lay out some ground rules at the outset to keep things civil, but had to keep reminding people what they were.
At one point McCain tried to defend his support for slashing the corporate tax rate, prompting boos and cat calls from the crowd. Engaging a crowd member he said, “Sir, you’ve got to let me finish and then I’ll let you talk. Ok? Remember what I said at the beginning. So let me just finally say, let’s cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.”
McCain then tried to pacify the crowd by explaining that he also supports closing special-interest loopholes. But that didn’t work either, as someone shouted “oil!” when he failed to include it in his list of subsidies that should be ended. The senator was also jeered for his position on entitlements — he believes cuts to Social Security and raising the retirement age should be on the table.
Throughout the town hall, McCain found himself answering variations of the question “Why do you believe that tax breaks to the wealthy create jobs?” “I do not believe that raising taxes on anybody is helpful in making our economy better and providing people with the wherewithal to make investments and jobs,” McCain responded. Audience members clearly didn’t like what they heard.
One constituent demanded to know why McCain won’t support higher taxes on the wealthy. A chorus of “no’s” greeted McCain’s response of “I think we all want to be rich.” “We have a group of people who don’t want to be rich. That’s fine,” said McCain.
Afterward, Melissa Donovan, a 38-year-old small-business owner, said she didn’t think McCain came with an open mind. “He seemed to have his opinions set. He listened politely and then just ignored a lot of us,” she said.