On The Situation Room, Mary Snow asserted that Sen. John McCain "wants to make President Bush's middle-class tax cuts permanent." But McCain does not favor the permanent extension of just middle-class tax cuts; he favors making permanent all of Bush's tax cuts, including those that largely benefit wealthy Americans.
On the January 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, in a report about the Republican presidential primary in Michigan, correspondent Mary Snow aired a clip of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) saying, "Clearly, we need to make the tax cuts permanent." Immediately afterward, Snow asserted that McCain "wants to make President Bush's middle-class tax cuts permanent." But McCain does not favor the permanent extension of just middle-class tax cuts; he favors making permanent all of Bush's tax cuts, including those that largely benefit wealthy Americans. Indeed, in May 2001, when Congress was first considering the tax cuts, McCain said in a May 26, 2001, floor statement that he opposed the bill because "so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle class Americans who most need tax relief." He subsequently changed his position, voting to extend the tax cuts, and he now supports their permanent extension, notwithstanding his prior view that they disproportionately favor the wealthy.
A press release on McCain's campaign website states, "John McCain will make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent, keeping income tax rates at their current level." The press release further claims that McCain will "keep the current rates on dividends and capital gains and fight anti-growth efforts by Democrats." Similarly, in an interview with the Detroit News editorial board -- excerpts of which were published January 3 -- the board asked McCain: "[Y]ou initially opposed the Bush tax cuts. What is your position now?" McCain replied, "I think they have to be made permanent or else every business and family will have the budgetary impact of a tax increase."
After opposing the tax cuts in 2001, McCain voted against legislation in 2003 to accelerate the tax reductions enacted in the 2001 bill and to cut dividends and capital-gains taxes. Yet in 2006, McCain voted for the bill extending the 2003 tax cuts. When asked during the April 2, 2006, broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press why he changed his mind on Bush's tax cuts, McCain replied: "I do not believe in tax increases. ... The tax cuts are now there, and voting to revoke them would have been to -- not to extend them would have meant a tax increase." Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, reportedly said at the time: "It's a big flip-flop, but I'm happy that he's flopped."
The Situation Room has also repeated McCain's dubious claims that he initially opposed Bush's tax cuts because they were not offset by spending cuts. Indeed, on the January 8 edition of the show, chief national correspondent John King explained McCain's defense of his votes: "He didn't vote for the Bush tax cuts because there weren't spending cuts," adding: "You can sell that message in New Hampshire. They are Yankee fiscal conservatives -- don't spend what you don't have." In fact, during the Senate debate on the conference committee version of the 2001 tax-cut bill, McCain did not mention the absence of offsetting spending cuts; rather, he pointed out that he had supported an earlier version of the bill "that provided more tax relief to middle income Americans," and, as noted above, criticized the bill for disproportionately benefiting "the most fortunate among us."
From the January 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
SNOW: The sleek new models showcasing in Detroit are the talk of the town, but it's the struggles of American car makers that are the talk on the campaign trail. It's one of the reasons Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the country. With widespread fears of a recession, Michigan has forced the economy into the forefront and the candidates to offer solutions.
McCAIN: Clearly, we need to make the tax cuts permanent. We need to do some things right away.
SNOW: Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain wants to make President Bush's middle-class tax cuts permanent. As for Michigan, McCain says old jobs are gone. The answer now is to retrain workers and invest in new technology. He also thinks cutting government spending will help. Mitt Romney has a different approach.
ROMNEY: Well, the pessimists are wrong. The auto industry and all its jobs do not have to be lost.