Americans will choose Tuesday between two clear and distinct agendas. John McCain proposes more freedom, choice, and prosperity. Barack Obama offers less of each.
John McCain would rejuvenate America’s moribund economy by halving the capital-gains and dividend taxes from 15 percent to 7.5, chopping the corporate tax from 35 percent (the Industrial World’s second-highest rate after Japan’s 39.5 percent) to 25, and letting today’s 45 percent death tax settle at 15 percent on estates above $5 million. He also has proposed, but rarely repeats, letting Americans choose either today’s 67,204-page tax code or a voluntary flatter, simpler tax with two rates of perhaps 25 and 15 percent.
Obama would stuff a pillow over the face of America’s bed-ridden economy by boosting capital gains and dividend taxes by a third, from 15 percent to 20. He would hike top income tax rates from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent. He also would maintain the 35 percent corporate tax and a 45 percent death tax on estates above $3.5 million.
Obama promises “tax cuts” to 95 percent of Americans, even though 44 percent of filers pay $0 in income taxes. A shifting target of taxpayers would finance these transfer payments.
“If you make $250,000 a year or less, we will not raise your taxes,” Obama declared last July 8. “We will cut your taxes.”
On October 25, Obama’s threshold slipped. “If you have a job, pay taxes, and make less than $200,000 a year, you’ll get a tax cut,” he said in a commercial.
VP nominee Joe Biden told Scranton’s WNEP Monday that tax cuts “should go to middle-class people — people making under $150,000 a year.”
On Halloween, Governor Bill Richardson (D., N.M.) frightened taxpayers by lowering this tax boom even further. The Obama confidante and advisor told KOA radio: “What Obama wants to do is … he is basically looking at $120,000 and under among those that [sic] are in the middle class, and there is a tax cut for those.”
“It’s interesting how their definition of rich has a way of creeping down,” McCain observed Tuesday in Pennsylvania, foreshadowing what Richardson said three days later. “At this rate, it won’t be long before Senator Obama is right back to his vote that Americans making just $42,000 dollars a year should get a tax increase.” (McCain cited Obama’s “aye” for the Fiscal Year 2009 Senate Democratic budget resolution, just one of Obama’s 94 substantive or procedural votes for higher taxes or against lower taxes.)
Wherever Obama’s vacuum nozzle lands, he should unplug it. Tax hikes are foolish in boom times and idiotic when GDP shrinks 0.3 percent, as it did last quarter.
McCain would revolutionize health care by establishing an individual market, so Americans could own and control their insurance. They could buy across state lines and transport coverage from job to job, to school, to home-based business, wherever. Americans could stop keeping thankless positions at thoughtless companies solely to remain insured. McCain would offer $2,500 refundable tax credits for individuals and $5,000 for families to help purchase coverage that suits their needs, not The Man’s.
Obama offers a potpourri of paternalistic options, from keeping employer-provided coverage to buying a government-run plan from his National Health Insurance Exchange.
“Insurance sold in the Exchange would be guaranteed issue and community rated,” warns National Center for Policy Analysis president John Goodman. “This means people would be able to wait until after they get sick to insure, and they would be able to do so without any financial penalty.” Coverage costs have soared in states that impose these unforgiving regulations.
“This is America, the most resourceful country on Earth,” VP nominee Sarah Palin told Toledo, Ohio voters Wednesday in a superb energy-policy address. “We can drill, and refine, and mine, enrich, reprocess, invent, build, conserve, grow, and use every available means to regain our independence” in energy.
McCain-Palin’s “all of the above” approach would include fast-tracking 45 atomic power plants for construction by 2030. “We will end subsidies and tariffs that drive prices up,” Palin added. McCain himself has promised Iowa corn farmers that, if elected, they can kiss goodbye their costly, distortive, environmentally ruinous ethanol program.
Obama wants a windfall profits tax — a disincentive to new oil production. He says he now favors offshore drilling. But watch Democrats exhume the just-expired offshore-drilling moratorium. Obama even sponsored legislation to prohibit expanded high-tech maps and measurements of sub-oceanic hydrocarbons. He also would increase mandated ethanol production 67 percent by 2030 — never mind the global chaos ethanol triggered by turbocharging corn prices.
McCain advocates every American’s right to work free of mandatory union membership. He defends the right to cast secret ballots in union-organization elections. These policies would govern private- and public-sector workers.
Obama opposes right-to-work laws. He has co-sponsored the Orwellian Employee Free Choice Act, to let unions avoid secret-ballot elections by collecting non-secret “card check” certificates from a majority of a jobsite’s employees. This exposes workers to labor and management intimidation.
Obama also supports the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. It “would force state and local governments to recognize union leaders as the exclusive bargaining agent for police, firefighters and other first responders,” explained Jason Riley in October 27’s Wall Street Journal. Emergency personnel suddenly could find themselves unionized.
With the economy gasping, America needs greater freedom, broader choices, lower taxes, cheaper energy, and nimbler workplaces. John McCain’s congruent policies will spur prosperity. Barack Obama’s contrary proposals will stymie it.
Up or down?
– Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution. © 2008 Scripps Howard News Service.