DNC - He's Focused on Britney and Paris, Can John McCain Answer One Simple Question?

On the Payroll Tax: Would He Or Wouldn't He?

Washington, DC - This week, John McCain and his campaign have been all over the map on a very straightforward question: would he or wouldn't he consider raising Social Security payroll taxes. After adamantly making a blanket "no new taxes" pledge during the primaries and on the campaign trail, McCain switched his position when he refused to rule it out on ABC's "This Week," instead saying all options would be on the table. McCain's campaign has been scrambling all week, giving shifting and conflicting accounts about what Senator McCain plans to do.  

"While John McCain is focused like a laser beam on pressing issues like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the American people still don't know where John McCain stands on the issue of raising payroll taxes," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse.  "while he's previously said one thing on the campaign trail, he now is saying something entirely different.  The American people deserve a clear answer from Senator McCain. He may be tying himself in knots to keep the base of his Party on board, but the bottom line is clear: a vote for John McCain is a vote for more of the same politics and failed Bush policies."

The following is a chronology of John McCain's inability to answer a simple question on the payroll tax:

September 2007: McCain Refused to Sign No New Tax Pledge. "Last September, he was forced to defend his refusal to sign a no-new tax pledge offered by the conservative Americans for Tax Reform. 'I stand on my record,' he said during a televised debate in Durham, N.H. 'I don't have to sign pledges.'" [Associated Press, 2/17/2008]
December 2007: McCain Tells Wall Street Journal "I Will Not Agree To Any Tax Increase," No Exceptions. "Meeting with us last December, before the primaries, he declared that "I will not agree to any tax increase," repeating the phrase for emphasis. He did not say any tax increase with the exception of Social Security."  [Wall Street Journal editorial, 7/30/08: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121737539116495163.html?mod=googlenews_wsj]

February 17: McCain Pledges No Tax Increases Under Any Circumstances. "STEPHANOPOULOS: So on taxes, are you a "read my lips" candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?  MCCAIN: No new taxes. I do not -- in fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second-highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT.  There's a lot of things that I would think we should to relieve that burden, including, obviously, as we all know, simplification of the tax code.  STEPHANOPOULOS: But under circumstances would you increase taxes? MCCAIN: No." [ABC This Week, 2/17/08: http://www.abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/Story?id=4304502&page=2]

March 3: McCain Backs Away From No New Tax Pledge. "On taxes, Sen. McCain is walking a fine line between courting keep-taxes-low Republicans while insisting he is the candidate of fiscal discipline. Two weeks ago, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked him on 'This Week' if he were a ''read my lips' candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?' referring to a pledge made by President George H.W. Bush, which he later broke. 'No new taxes,' Sen. McCain responded. 'But under circumstances would you increase taxes?' Mr. Stephanopoulos continued. 'No,' Sen. McCain answered. Asked in The Wall Street Journal interview to clarify, Sen. McCain softened that stance. 'I'm not making a 'read my lips' statement, in that I will not raise taxes,' he says. 'But I'm not saying I can envision a scenario where I would, OK?'" [Wall Street Journal, 3/3/08: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120451614688707083.html]

March 13: Asked if He Would Raise Taxes, McCain: "No." Asked if he would raise taxes, McCain said: "No. Look, here we are. Americans are hurting. You know that, I know that.  These are tough economic times.  Do we want to raise their taxes and have the government take more of their money… We can't raise people's taxes, particularly at this particular time." [Hannity and Colmes, 3/13/08]

July 27: McCain Refuses to Rule out Payroll Tax Hike: "Nothing's off the Table." "MCCAIN: No, I have said and will say, I will say that everything has to be on the table, if we're going to reach a bipartisan agreement. I've been in bipartisan negotiations before. I know how you reach a conclusion. We all have to sit down together with everything on the table.  STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that means payroll tax increases are on the table, as well? MCCAIN: There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions, and I'll articulate them. But nothing's off the table. [ABC's This Week, July 27, 2008]

July 29: Spokesman Says there Is "No Imaginable Circumstance" Where McCain Would Raise the Payroll Tax.  "MEGYN KELLY: Alright, but you're waffling now, Tucker. You're off point, you're off point. We're talking about on a go forward basis if McCain gets in the White House is he going to raise the payroll tax? Might the Social Security tax go up? Is that on the table?  TUCKER BOUNDS: No, Megyn. There is no imaginable circumstance where John McCain would raise payroll taxes. It's absolutely out of the question." [Fox News, July 29, 2008]