A Republican Finally Tells The Truth About Tax Policy

It’s good to see a Republican actually make sense when writing about the tax policy. This is from an op-ed by Bruce Bartlett:

It is an article of faith among Republicans that tax cuts are the cure for every problem the economy faces, and that tax increases are the equivalent of economic poison. Any hint by Democrats that the current administration’s tax cuts should be revisited in light of changing economic or fiscal conditions is met with charges that they are proposing the largest tax increase in history.

The truth is that President Bush’s tax cuts didn’t do much good for the economy; they were mostly giveaways to GOP political constituencies and were little different conceptually from pork-barrel spending. Although there were some good elements to the tax cuts, such as the reduction in marginal tax rates, they were fatally undermined by their temporary nature.

Republicans will spend the rest of the election year trying to convince people that Democrats will raise their taxes (along with taking their guns and bibles). Bartlett tells the truth:

The reality is that we are not going to see the biggest tax increase in history in 2011 because neither Congress nor the White House will allow it to happen, regardless of which party is in control. The choice is not between full extension of all the Bush tax cuts or a massive tax increase, but between extension of the Bush tax cuts and some other sort of tax cuts that would keep the tax burden from rising on the vast majority of taxpayers.

Bush Breaks Record For Disapproval Rating in Gallup History

Disapproval of George Bush as set a new record. Bush now has “the highest disapproval rating of any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup Poll.” Currently Bush 28% approve and 69% disapprove of Bush. This exceeds Harry Truman’s disapproval rating of 67% in 1952. In other questions, 63% now agree that the Iraq war was a mistake. While Bush had record high approval following 9/11, his approval has been under 50% since May 2005. He has remained below 40% since September 2006.

The American Research Group has Bush’s approval even higher at 72% and approval at 22%, which is actually improved from his low point in that poll which occurred in February. At his low, Bush had a disapproval of 77% and an approval of only 19%.

Posted in George Bush, Polls. Tags: , , . 3 Comments »

McCain Distorts, Too

John McCain has been claiming that Barack Obama has been distorting his statements in campaigning against him. There has been a little truth to his claims but Marc Ambinder notes that McCain has done the same with regards to Obama’s statements:

But McCain is not as clean as his campaign’s outrage at such distortions would suggest. On consequential issues of national security policy, McCain has, at times, caricatured Barack Obama’s stated positions on several occasions. Sometimes the distortions are small, but the often the effects of the distortion on the message, and its subsequent transmission, can be big.

For example: Obama has said he does not believe that former President Jimmy Carter ought to have met with leaders of Hamas. McCain has suggested just the opposite, telling Fox’s Neal Cavuto that “Obama does not have the experience to make the right judgment as to how to deal with terrorist organizations, obviously. Otherwise, he would never approve of such a meeting.” But Obama does not approve of such a meeting. Obama never said he would meet with leaders of terrorist organizations, just leaders of rogue nations, (and then as part of a diplomatic process. ).

McCain has frequently used the verb “surrender” to characterize the consequences of Obama plans for Iraq. McCain’s advisers say that Obama’s position amounts to a surrender and that the word, while pregnant with meaning, is defensible and appropriate.

But McCain has taken the phrase a step further. Who precisely would Obama “surrender” to? “Al Qaeda” But that’s a bit of a distortion of the situation in Iraq, where a Sunni/US, eh, call it an alliance, has contained and significantly diminished the capacity of Al Qaeda to the point where the terrorist organization is no longer the predominant threat in Iraq. It makes no sense to say that Obama would “surrender” to a tiny, increasingly irrelevant faction even if that faction would declare victory. One could argue that Al Q might re-surge if US troops withdrew; indeed, McCain does argue that. Describing the Democratic plan as one involving a surrender to Al Q immediately brings and posits associations between Iraq, Al Qaeda, terrorism, 9/11, fear and evil. The distortion is significant. Obama wants to withdraw troops; that withdrawal will have consequences; one of them is not a “surrender” to Al Qaeda unless Iraq is a very different country from the one described last week by Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. If McCain were to substitute “Iran” for “Al Qaeda,” there’d at least be a stronger factual basis underlying his claim, as Iran would, at this point, have more influence in Iraq than Al Qaeda does.

McCain has questioned whether, in electing Obama, “will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan?” Well, Obama did not say that. He suggested a more aggressive version of current US policy — a policy that McCain himself has endorsed. All Obama meant was that if the US had actionable intelligence against a terrorist target in Pakistan and Pakistan’s government refused to act on the intelligence, President Obama reserved the right to take military action. One can question the wisdom of discussing the options out loud, but that does not translate into a desire to bomb an ally. Obama and McCain seem to have roughly the same point of view here.

The Clinton Embarassment Continues

It would sure be great if Obama could manage to do well enough in Pennsylvania to knock the Clintons out of the race. They are beyond the point where Clinton can both win and retain enough Democratic support to be a viable general election candidate. At this point they are just an embarrassment.

One problem is that by keeping a pointless nomination battle alive the Democrats are losing valuable time which should be spent going after McCain. Even worse, as a result of the Clintons, the Democrats have lost the high moral ground. In recent years I’ve been tempted to vote Democratic even in cases where I didn’t necessarily agree with the candidate due to the dishonest tactics utilized by the right wing noise machine. Now the Clintons have emulated all their tactics, making the Democrats appear no better than the Republicans.

There’s also the fact that they are looking increasingly ridiculous. Today we got another example. Earlier in the race the Clintons tried using race baiting to go after Obama. Providing another example of how the Clintons have often accused Obama of doing what they are actually doing, Bill Clinton was caught on tape claiming Obama was playing the race card on him:

INTERVIEWER (RE: Jackson comment): “Do you think that was a mistake, and would you do that again?”

CLINTON: “No. I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything, that they planned to do it along.

When asked about this interview, Clinton denied what he had said:

NBC/NJ: “Sir, what did you mean yesterday when you said that the Obama campaign was playing the race card on you?”

CLINTON: “When did I say that, and to whom did I say that?”

NBC/NJ: “On WHYY radio yesterday”

CLINTON: “No, no, no. That’s not what I said. You always follow me around and play these little games, and I’m not going to play your games today. This is a day about election day. Go back and see what the question was, and what my answer was. You have mischaracterized it to get another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your game today. Have a nice day.”

NBC/NJ: “Respectfully sir, though, you did say …”

CLINTON: “Have a nice day.” [continues shaking hands with supporters]. I said what I said, you can go and look at the interview. And if you’ll be real honest, you’ll also report what the question was and what the answer was.”

NBC/NJ: “They asked you if you regretted your comparing Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama on the day after the South Carolina primary.”

CLINTON: “And I pointed out that I did not do that, and that I complimented them both. And that Jesse Jackson took no offense. And I called him myself, I said, ‘Did you find that offensive?’ And he said no.

Certainly it was ridiculous for Clinton to claim that it was Obama who had been playing the race card, but it doesn’t help to simply pretend he didn’t say something that was recorded. He didn’t get away with it when he claimed he didn’t “have sex with that woman” and it is even harder to get away with denying something that has been recorded. Does Clinton have any idea of the difference between reality and fiction, or between telling the truth and lying?