Friday, September 12, 2008

Top McCain Advisor Says His Candidate Will Raise Taxes

Time has the story. If this is true - and I don't doubt it, since no Republican president in recent memory has actually cut spending - what do the libertarians supporting McCain have left? Since Obama clinched the nomination, it's been an endless chorus of "Obama will raise taxes! Obama will raise taxes!! Obama will raise taxes!!!" He probably will (by a modest amount), but if McCain will do the same, just like George H.W. Bush did, what do small government types still see in McCain? Do they actually believe the small government rhetoric? "This time, the Republican will be different. This time, the Republican's small government promises are for real. This time ..."

Update: Alan Greenspan's not a fan of McCain's tax plan. And, as Don the Libertarian Democrat points out, the Tax Policy Center refutes the myth that Obama will raise taxes across the board, and McCain will balance the budget.


Donald Pretari said...

If you look at a comparative study of Sen. Obama's and Sen. McCain's tax policies here:

you will see why he says that. McCain's plan will significantly increase the budget deficit. At least, that's how I read it. Don the libertarian Democrat

Anonymous said...

Raising taxes on five percent of the population and giving "tax cuts" to those earning under forty thousand dollars who do not pay income taxes is not a tax cut, it is a government subsidy.

A libertarian who believes that raising taxes on only a "small" portion of individuals was explained best by Mr. Norquist when he said: "the morality that says it's OK to do something to do a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is OK because they didn't target everybody, just a small percentage."

I would also ask if Senator Obama's nationalized healthcare policy is consistent with libertarianism? If Senator Obama's healthcare policy is indeed consistent with economic libertarianism, how is it so?

Mark said...

From my understanding of the Obama tax plan, you can earn a lot more than $40,000 and still get a tax cut. You are right that the plan does raise taxes in the top income bracket, but I think Grover Norquist is making a pretty inappropriate analogy when he compares this to the Holocaust. Tax rates have always been higher for the upper income brackets - this isn't an idea that Obama invented, or that McCain (or even most Republicans) argue with.

You are right, of course, that Obama's health care plan is not libertarian. But consider the cost. It costs less than the Iraq war, which he is going to end (and far less than the cost of any McCain war with Iran). And unlike other health plans, Obama's doesn't have a federal role in providing care, only paying for it. And no one is forced to participate.

Hrafn said...

It is also worth pointing out that Greenspan commented that "I'm not in favor of financing tax cuts with borrowed money" and that the nation couldn't afford it without also cutting spending (more dramatically than just pork, I'd imagine).


I'm trying to figure out where the 40k figure comes from when looking at Obama's proposal, but I just can't find it. Neither, evidently, can anyone else that I've heard of so far ( specifically noted that this figure was not correct on several occasions).

Anonymous said...

Let's set aside the disputed forty thousand dollar figure.You are still left with the fact that way less than 95% of the overall population have to pay income taxes, and yet the individuals who do not have to pay income taxes (whatever threshold you wish to use) will receive a tax "cut" (or rebate) on taxes that they did not pay to begin with. This is a government subsidy.

I would argue that no matter what percentage is forced to pay more, it is inherently unfair and directly contrary to libertarian principles.

Mark suggests:
"Tax rates have always been higher for the upper income brackets - this isn't an idea that Obama invented, or that McCain (or even most Republicans) argue with."

Perhaps Democrats do not argue with income redistribution, however libertarians,and indeed many Republcians, argue with the current progressive taxation system. This is the reason why Many libertarians and Republicans advocate for a flat tax, or some advocate for a 'fair' tax of some kind.

Anonymous said...

Mark states:

"Obama's doesn't have a federal role in providing care, only paying for it."

Mark, I admire your tenacity, however this is somewhat of an unenviable position for any libertarian to be in.

If the federal government is paying for the health care proposal, I dare say that the federal government does indeed have a rather large role in the health care plan itself.

Since the federal government is not fiscally self sustaining, tax payers who do not wish to participate in the health care program will still be funding the program.

Hrafn said...

The $40k number isn't "disputed," it is wrong. The correct number is $250k. $42k derives from a vote that Obama had on a bill where people who make $42k per year would see their taxes go up $15, but which a) failed and b) is not part of any of the current tax proposals.

Yes, we all agree that income tax is evil and we can all talk about how different systems would be more ethical, but you can't rip it out--or even really make it flat--without also reducing government spending rather dramatically. Trying to do so is irresponsible at best. I've also never heard that McCain is in favor of anything but a skewed tax distribution, and moving "closer" to a flat tax is not, in itself, a flat tax.

Especially when we finance it not by setting the point sanely, but irresponsibly on borrowed money.

As one of the articles Mark posted said: Libertarians need to stop pretending that if we just reduce taxes enough, everything will turn out okay. McCain's plans don't reduce spending, and according to analysis the deficit will be larger with his plans than with Obama's.

If you wish to hold to pure libertarian principle in how you vote, vote for a third party or make the conscientious decision to not vote. If you want to minimize damage to libertarian principles on the basis of government expenditures, social liberties, and the possibility of future interventionist wars: vote Obama.

Not to mention that lately it seems if you want principle and facts to even mean something as opposite to slime and lies, you should be voting Obama.

Eric Dondero said...

You say the cost for the War in Iraq is "high." What would have been the cost to the United States and in lost American lives if we had never removed Saddam, and he was still enshrined as President for Life of Iraq, with his two murderous sons Uday and Qusay poised to take over upon his death?

I guess to be an Obama supporter, one has to also support Saddam Hussein.

Mark said...

Thanks for your question, Eric. Saddam Hussein never attacked America. There is no evidence that he planned to. And even if he had wanted to, there is no evidence that he could have mounted any sort of significant attack. So the answer is nothing.

Anonymous said...

"I guess to be an Obama supporter, one has to also support Saddam Hussein."

What? Wow, that's dumb. Eric, you don't really think that, do you?

Hrafn said...


It is a matter of opportunity costs.

Question: What was the relative threat level of Iraq under either Hussein or his sons when compared the following countries, back in 2002:

- Pakistan
- Saudi Arabia
- North Korea
- Iran
- Afghanistan if it were to fall back under Taliban control

Question: By having our troops now involved in two wars, and based on the prolonged engagement and degree of presence required in Iraq, what does that do to our ability to respond around the globe to other threats?

If we have to engage in maneuvers with Russia, or if we do have to go into another country for our own security at a future date (say even Iran, for the sake of argument), how does that effect our ability to do so given war fatigue back at home, the burden it places on the troops, the global response to Iraq, and the lack of trust Americans are increasingly putting in what their government tells them as justification for these things.

Question: Is the benefit we have gotten from putting that money into Iraq greater or less than the benefit we could have gotten by putting that money into other defense programs? If we agree that "energy is a vital part of self defense" (a current McCain/Palin talking point) then what could we have done if we invested that money in energy independence?

If you have thrown away the principle that the government should be staying out of this to begin with, then the government might as well spend the money efficiently.

No one here is saying that Saddam was a "good guy," no one here supports him. Your attempting to paint others as such is disingenuous and a cheap trick designed to play on emotions and paint things as "with us or against us."

Not an attempt at serious discussion, which is what is needed if we want to improve our security. If you want to claim to be "strong on security," then you should probably start recognizing that fear and painting others with a broad rhetorical brush sells, but it does not actually make us more secure.

Anonymous said...

This has got to be a bad joke.

1.) Anyone who finds any comfort in the fact that Obama's tax plan will "only" raise taxes on those who are already paying the most grossly disproportionate share is not a libertarian. Libertarians oppose a steeply progressive income tax, Obama will make it drastically more steep.

When you have close to a majority of the country paying no income tax, don't be surprised when spending goes completely out of control. Nearly half of Americans are getting a free lunch every day of the week, and it tastes good to them.

2.) While Obama opposed the Iraq war, mainly because of his far left ideology, he does not have a more isolationist foreign policy. In fact, the main reason he gives now for withdrawal from Iraq is so that we can have a much bigger presence in Afghanistan.

3.) Obama is pro-life. In fact, he is so radically pro-life that he is anti-libertarian. Any analysis based in science will recognize that at some point late in pregnancy you have two lives, not one. Thus a libertarian would be balancing two individual liberties late in a pregnancy, while early pregnancy usually focuses only on the liberty of the woman. Anyone who supports no-questions-asked extreme late term abortion is not libertarian.

4.) Obama has never been vocal about opposition to the war on drugs.

5.) The most sacred of all liberties is the right to self preservation. Obama has opposed the right to use force in defense of yourself even in your own home.

6.) In a similar light, Obama would be the most anti-gun President of all time. Despite what he says now, he is on record supporting the DC gun ban and other extreme gun control measures. The nation's most rampant violent criminals operated for decades with the comfort that the American government had disarmed all of their victims in the District of Columbia, leading to the nation's highest murder rate. Similar skyrocketing violent crime can be seen in England and Australia, which have enacted the type of gun laws supported by Obama. Obama also supported the ban of nearly every type of hunting ammunition.

Obama's running mate literally bragged during the youtube debate about authoring the assault weapon ban, a piece of legislation that even its largest proponents admit was "symbolic" and did nothing to reduce crime. Libertarians should be struggling to stiffle their nausia at the prospect of voting for a man who is proud of "symbolic" deprivations of liberty.

7.) I have extreme reservations about anyone who weighs the "cost" of a nationalized health care plan as a mitigation. Please do not consider yourself a Libertarian if this is your mindset.

Nurturing a welfare culture and expanding the nanny government is one of Obama's main talking points. Please research how much of the federal budget is currently burned on entitlements before mitigating a plan to start a new entitlement program.