THE PLANK MARCH 2, 2008
In a front page interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, John McCain talked taxes:
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?"
There was also this:
A centerpiece of a McCain presidential bid in 2000 was
a plan to divert a portion of Social Security payroll taxes to fund
private accounts, much as President Bush proposed unsuccessfully.
Sen. McCain's 2008 presidential campaign Web site
takes a different view, proposing "supplementing" the existing full
Social Security system with personally managed accounts. Such accounts
wouldn't substitute for guaranteed payments, and they wouldn't be
financed by diverting a portion of Social Security payroll taxes.
Mr. McCain's chief economic aide, Douglas Holtz-Eakin,
a former head of the Congressional Budget Office, says economic
circumstances forced changes concerning Social Security policy. Vast
budget surpluses projected in 2000 evaporated with a recession, the
Bush tax cuts and the cost of responding to Sept. 11.
"You can't keep promises made to retirees," says Mr.
Holtz-Eakin, referring to the level of benefits the government is
supposed to pay future retirees. "But you can pay future retirees more
than current retirees."Asked about the apparent change in position in the
interview, Sen. McCain said he hadn't made one. "I'm totally in favor
of personal savings accounts," he says. When reminded that his Web site
says something different, he says he will change the Web site. (As of
Sunday night, he hadn't.)
Read the whole piece. If giving an interview to the WSJ was supposed to help McCain with economic conservatives, I think the attempt failed.