Thursday, August 14, 2008

McCain Campaign Conference Call On Barack Obama's Tax Increases

"I think today's op-ed from the Obama campaign is yet another example of the stark difference between the reality of Obama's record and his rhetoric. And it is also an example of Obama's shifting rhetoric over time." -- Carly Fiorina

Today, U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign held a press conference call with Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, John Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University, and Doug Holtz-Eakin, McCain 2008 senior policy adviser, to discuss Obama's record of higher taxes:

Carly Fiorina: "I think today's op-ed from the Obama campaign is yet another example of the stark difference between the reality of Obama's record and his rhetoric. And it is also an example of Obama's shifting rhetoric over time.

Let me begin with a couple big-picture points. The reality of Barack Obama's record is the following: He has voted to raise taxes 94 times in his short time as a senator. Most recently, he has voted to raise taxes on people making as little as $42,000 a year. And when he voted in favor of that budget resolution, he indicated that he thought it was a great step in getting our priorities back in the right place.

"The reality of his record is also that, in his short time in the U.S. Senate, he has asked for almost a billion dollars in earmarks. That equates to roughly a million dollars for every day he has served in office.

"And finally, he has proposed almost a trillion dollars in new spending programs -- $863 billion of new spending programs to be precise, spending programs that range everywhere from free mandatory preschool education for every child in America to government-mandated health care. So, the reality of Barack Obama's record is that he is for both higher taxes and much higher spending.

"Now, what we have seen is shifting rhetoric over time. His rhetoric has shifted on taxes. He has said that he would raise taxes on the top 1% of the American people. He had said he would raise taxes on the top 2% of the American people, he has said he would raise taxes on the top 5% of the American people. I'm talking income taxes now. The rhetoric on whose taxes would be raised has shifted over time.

"The rhetoric on what he would do with capital gains taxes has shifted over time as well. It has been as high as 20%, 28%. In some cases he has said he would exempt certain people from capital gains taxes. Recall that 100 million Americans have some investment in the stock market, which would be taxed under his capital gains increase tax plan.

"His rhetoric has also shifted around payroll taxes. He has said on more than one occasion that he would be willing to raise all payroll taxes in order to deal with Social Security. He has now proposed in some cases a 'donut hole' exemption. But, the reality is that his rhetoric has shifted on what, exactly, he would do on taxes, on capital gains, and on payroll tax, just as his rhetoric has shifted on how he really feels about trade; and its important to remember that a great number, between 20% and 25% of all the jobs in America, depend to some large measure on exports.

"I think what we have here is once again a shifting rhetoric over time driven by his ambition to become President of the United States and a stark difference between the reality of his record and that shifting rhetoric."


John Taylor: "Even with the huge credibility problem that has arisen because of the shifting positions of Senator Obama on taxes, the current proposals would hurt the economy. First of all, the U.S. economy is in a weak state. We have a credit crunch. We have high oil prices. This is not the time to be raising anybody's taxes. It's exactly the wrong direction. Economists have studied that, history, theory, everything you can name.

"Second, his proposals, even as laid out today, will increase taxes on millions of small businesses, millions of small businesses that create jobs. And that's not the way to improve the economy or to increase people's incomes or jobs.

"Third, the payroll tax increases are still there, still part of the problem, and payroll taxes do reduce jobs, reduce take-home pay.

"I would really emphasize, as Carly has, that the proposals laid out now leave a big hole in the budget. It's just not credible without any demonstration on how to hold spending in check, without any record of how to hold it in check with the record on earmarks that existed. It's just not credible that this will come into balance. And that is in great contrast to Senator McCain's plan which is a package of both tax cuts to stimulate the economy, create jobs and a credible plan to keep the growth of spending down. I think that if you look carefully at John McCain's plan, the focus is creating jobs. That's why there's a proposal to reduce taxes, to make American firms more competitive.

"This is a global economy we're in. You need to take into account the fact that other countries have lower taxes, and if we don't do the kind of things John McCain is proposing, it's going to hurt the economy, especially if we go in the direction of what Senator Obama is proposing.

"Finally, I'd just like to mention on the international trade part, which Carly mentioned, which is so important right now. In the Second Quarter, the only reason we had growth at all was because of strong export performance. So to turn your back on international trade, to question trade agreements at any time is exactly in the wrong direction. It's the most important stimulus we have now, far more important than any new stimulus proposals that are coming out."


Doug Holtz-Eakin: "I think Carly has given a very succinct summary of the character of the record, the continual shifting on the position of taxes. This is not new for this particular area. This is a candidate who said he would take public financing and join John McCain in that effort. This is a candidate who promised to join John McCain in the town halls, face the American people, listen to their concerns, take their questions and debate on the issues and has refused to do so. This is a candidate who ensured his followers that he would filibuster the FISA bill and in the end simply supported it. And this is a candidate who has simply chosen positions of political expediency on the issues that affect jobs, the single most important American concern today, positions of political expediency on NAFTA which affect our trading partners, on taxes, on every aspect of his policies.

"Today's op-ed by Austin Goolsbee and Jason Furman is simply not to be taken seriously. It's simply the next iteration of positioning for political purposes and quite frankly it is not surprising that he would not want to reveal the agenda that his record suggests is the accurate agenda. An agenda that John Taylor said is damaging to the American economy and that is an agenda that is unpopular with the American people."

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