Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is John McCain a Socialist?

From John McCain's own mouth. The former John McCain supported a progressive income tax. But, when Obama supports it, it's socialism. Not to mention John McCain's current plan does not eliminate progressive taxation.


kc bob said...

I saw McCain on Meet the Press this morning and they showed part of this clip and another from an earlier MtP show. Another sad example of the crazy rhetoric going around.

Brian said...


I'm glad to see the clip made it to the mainstream media. I think it's absurd that McCain and Palin are playing the socialist card regarding taxes- as I've spoken about many times before. But, here we have it from John McCain's own lips. Progressive income tax has been a part of American culture for a long time.


Tones said...

Both candidates appear to support a more "progressive" progressive tax. I'm not sure if McCain could even clearly define what socialism is. I know Obama knows it well.

Brian, I know you don't agree - but by broadening our "progressive" tax, being a proponent on universal healthcare, government-paid pre-K education, etc, his vision is socialism for this country, or at least another step in that direction.

Brian said...


I don't disagree that Obama's plans are more socialistic than what we currently have in the United States today. As I've said before though, socialism and capitalism are not black and white and it's an either or proposition. Our country has always had a blended system with a lot of socialistic elements. We tend to move on a pendulum on almost everything. Sometimes swinging pretty wildly. If you read Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, he discusses history from the New Deal ('30s) until today and the swings we've made. He also discusses how the Founding Fathers debated about how much we needed to control free markets to promote the American ideals of anyone can make it if they try. IMO, we've moved too much towards a free market, anything goes, you're on your own society and are in need of a little more "we're all in this together", which some may call socialism.

My objection to calling Obama a socialist is the word is a pejorative in our society today and McCain/Palin know it. While many people don't even really know what it means, they know it's something bad. Yes, McCain's SLIGHTLY flatter progressive income tax is less socialistic. But, for those whose concern is wealth redistribution, I got news for you. We've seen a HUGE shift in this country lately and it's been from the poor and middle class to the rich; as the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. I guess since the wealth is not being "spread around" and instead is being trickled up, this wealth redistribution is technically not socialism. If that's what you want to continue to see happen, then you've got your man.


Someday said...

Senator McCain explaining the history of, and hinting at support for a progressive tax scale is not anywhere near the type of income redistribution that Senator Obama is actively seeking for America. Anyone that equates the two are either uninformed, or purposely misleading.
Even Ronald Reagan believed in some measure of progressive taxation. Progressive taxation is completely beside the point. It has nothing to do with the subject of income redistribution at all. Redistribution is taking from party A and handing that to party B. THAT is what Senator Obama is proposing.
Did you know that Fannie Mae was created by the Government as part of the New Deal? Did you know it sold the bad loans it was buying up with the idea of government backing? Do you really believe that deregulation of the financial industry is the cause of our bad economy? Have you not heard of the Community Reinvestment Act? Have you not heard how local banks were encouraged (sometimes legally forced)to make risky loans by this act? Have you not heard how the pseudo government/private bank known as Fannie Mae and it's kissing cousin Freddie Mac bought up and repackaged these loans into investment packages that they pretended were worth far more than they were? These institutions encouraged and enabled a "credit for all" mentality that ended up over inflating real estate value and allowed banks to dump their risky loans anytime. When people couldn't pay, and the banks couldn't get their investment back by reselling it, the housing bubble burst.
This was all due to some well meaning social engineering. Treating home ownership as a right instead of an earned privilege.
Deregulation? No.

Let me ask these important questions:
How EXACTLY does it help me if people who make more money than me have to pay higher taxes than they already do?
Why can't I get a tax cut due to the Government cutting back on it's entitlement programs and earmarks instead of taking it directly from another?
Why does every other nation that claims socialism is the way suffer more when our free market in America declines?


Brian said...

Wow. I wish I could hear you "tone of voice" in this post, Someday because it comes across as just a bit strident.

Any type of "welfare" is income redistribution. Social Security is a form of income redistribution. Our current tax code is income redistribution because those at the top pay a higher rate than those at the bottom. Senator McCain's tax plan is very similar to Senator Obama's. Neither has proposed eliminating the progressive tax. Both offer refundable tax credits. Neither fundamentally changes the structure of our existing income tax code. Senator Obama proposes rolling back to rates that people at the top paid before the income tax breaks that George Bush gave them (tax breaks that John McCain opposed, BTW). And, progressive taxation is precisely the point that Senator McCain is making on the stump, Someday. That and criticizing refundable tax credits (which he himself proposes). You may be making another point. But, McCain/Palin are calling Obama's "raising" the rates on the well off socialism.

I'm not getting into the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac history right now (again). Suffice it to say most "conservative" Congressional leaders, including Senator McCain seemed to want a little "socialism" when it comes to the $700B bailout and a partial nationalization of our banks. They weren't so idealistic about that.

And, here's how it helps you if the tax rates on the very rich roll back to where they were before they got the cuts. There is a certain tax burden to be shared in the country. It has disproportionately fallen on the middle class when you combine all the taxes they pay along with the loopholes the very rich get. The rich are getting richer and the middle class and poor are getting poorer. A strong middle class is the driving force for our economy. If they cannot buy the goods and services the "job creators" create, then at best the whole system suffers, perhaps it collapses and you have social revolution on your hands. Most people do not want nor do think it's sustainable to have a society of Lords and serfs.

Again, no one is proposing that American scrap free markets and capitalism in favor of socialism. But, America has always recognized the fact that free markets cannot be allowed to run completely free without controls and that we would not allow the strong to eat the weak in the name of capitalism.


Someday said...

You keep talking about progressive tax structures. It leads me to believe I have not been very clear about what I am talking about. It has nothing to do with progressive taxes.

It's all about redistribution. It's about class warfare. It's about preying on the greed of the little guy, telling him he is gonna benefit directly from the taxation on the rich. It's about punishing success. Period

Brian said...


I think I get what you are talking about. Actually, I got it about two comments back. But, your candidate is slamming Obama's progressive tax structure, his plan to increase taxes on the rich. He's criticizing his plan to give refundable tax credits to the working poor, while he's saying he is going to do the same thing.

Someday, you don't see the problem with McCain offering to hand out billions of dollars of more tax breaks to the rich? You don't see the class warfare there? Why not just leave the tax rates on them where they are and give a little more break to the middle class who needs it more? McCain is offering the middle class peanuts in this tax break scheme.

We already have class warfare and the middle class is losing. We already have redistribution of wealth and wealth is trickling up. The ownership society philosophy says give the owners more and more and eventually it'll benefit their servants. I say put more money in the servants pockets directly.

Y'know most of the people whining about punishing success aren't making anywhere near $250,000/year. I'm glad that people are not only concerned with themselves and are concerned with their brothers. But, I'd be happier if we were concerned with our brothers who have less moreso than the ones who literally have more than they can spend in a lifetime.

BTW, in case I haven't mentioned it 1,000 times, I am a business owner. I cringe every quarter when I have to write out my quarterly taxes which are now almost as much as I earned my first year out of college. But, I am privileged to be in the tax bracket I am in and if I have to pay a little more to help improve the country and give my employees and customers a better life, I'm willing to pay a little more, like John McCain said.


Tones said...

Hey Brian - with all due respect, could you help me understand where you're coming fronm here? I'm considered middle-class, and I haven't exprerienced this trickle-up socialism - as a matter of fact with kids and tax credits, year before last, I paid basically no income tax (t'was a tough year in business, that's for sure...ugh!~).

What I have experienced, however is a downward distribution that creates a dependency that de-motivates folks to start anew.

Brian said...

I'm sorry I guess I wasn't clear. The trickle up is not TO the middle class, it's FROM the middle class. I don't know your particular situation and of course there are exceptions. But, the middle class has seen real income go down lately while the rich have gotten richer. The tax breaks are geared mainly to the already rich (Warren Buffett observed he was paying a lower effective rate than his secretary).

I'm not sure what you meant by the last part of your comment by a downward distribution that discourages people from starting anew.

My point concerning socialism is Obama's tax plan is only slightly more socialistic than our current tax code. It includes some more credits for things like college education. And, it includes a slightly higher tax rate on the rich. So, technically, it does shift some wealth from the rich to the less advantaged. My point was that we are already seeing a shift in wealth in the opposite direction. The intent of the tweaks Obama wants to make to the systems is not large scale redistribution of wealth. A 3% increase in the marginal tax rate on the rich is not going to move them back into the middle class. The intent is to give the middle class a chance to stop running in place or moving backwards and be able to start moving forward again. Ultimately, this is good for everyone, including the rich.

We cannot continue to bleed the middle class dry. Besides being morally wrong, it's not good economics. The system will eventually collapse unless we make sure we have consumers to drive our economy.