Washington, DC - Today, after a week of watching Senator McCain go back and forth on whether or not he would consider raising the Social Security payroll tax, McCain's campaign surrogates engaged in their own debate: with McCain.
On Fox News Sunday, Lindsey Graham said raising the Social Security payroll tax was "a dumb idea," even though McCain himself said he was open to the idea last weekend. Meanwhile, on CBS's Face the Nation, McCain economic advisor Carly Fiorina said McCain had been consistent on this issue for "many, many months." In reality, McCain wasn't even consistent on this issue this week. On Sunday, he said "nothing is off the table" only to have his campaign say two days later say raising the payroll tax is "absolutely out of the question." By Thursday, McCain himself was pledging not to raise the payroll tax. It was the latest in a string of reversals on the issue dating back to last September.
"By far, the sharpest debate this Sunday was between John McCain and his own surrogates," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. "Since John McCain himself has been trying to have it both ways on the Social Security payroll tax, it's no surprise that his surrogates are confused about which position to defend. No amount of double talk can change the fact that John McCain is promising more of the same failed policies that have left Americans struggling under the failed Bush-McCain economy."
SUNDAY'S BIGGEST DEBATE: MCCAIN'S SURROGATES...
Lindsey Graham: McCain's Suggested Payroll Tax Hike "A Dumb Idea." "Senator McCain believes you cannot tax your way into Social Security solvency. If you want to deal with Social Security, you've got to deal with all the moving parts. That is whether or not you allow young people to invest uh have an account in their own name? Do you adjust the age? Do you adjust, reschedule the benefits based on upper income people? John is not going to tax our way into solvency because it will ruin the American economy…But to raise taxes to save Social Security from bankruptcy won't happen. It's a dumb idea." [Fox News Sunday, 8/03/08]
Carly Fiorina: McCain Has Been Saying Payroll Tax Hike Not Part of the Solution "For Many, Many Months." "He's making his position very clear which is payroll tax increases are not the solution. He has been consistent in that position for the last many, many months, even as his opponent has proposed increases in payroll taxes." [CBS Face The Nation, 8/3/08]
...VS. MCCAIN'S RECORD.
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]
July 31: "I Am Opposed To" Raising Social Security Tax. McCain said "you will always know where I stand," and that there "should be no doubt about my position…I am opposed to raising taxes, including social security taxes." [John McCain Town Hall, Racine, WI, 7/31/08]