Mr. McCain flip-flopped on the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. He’d voted against them at the time, saying in 2001 that he’d “like to see more of this tax cut shared by working Americans.” Now he supports their continuation because, he says, letting them expire would increase taxes and he opposes tax hikes. Besides, he recognizes that the tax cuts have helped the economy.
At least Mr. McCain fesses up to and explains his changes. . . .
Jonathan Rauch has attempted a different defense:
McCain voted against Bush’s big tax cuts, but now says he supports extending them rather than risking damage to the economy. Flip-flop? Not if you believe, as Burkeans often do, that sudden and large policy changes deserve skepticism, but that when a policy becomes well established and woven into everyday life, as the tax cuts have, continuity should get the benefit of the doubt.
Neither of these defenses reckons with the fact that McCain didn’t just vote against the Bush tax cuts as an initial matter. In 2004, he said on Meet the Press that he did not support extending them (except for those provisions closely tied to the middle class). He has flip-flopped, in a bigger way that Rauch or Rove suggests.