The Corner

Pro-Business McCain vs. Populist Hill-Bama

Senator John McCain essentially took the no-new-taxes pledge on the Stephanopoulos show Sunday morning. He also emphasized his corporate-tax-cut plan, which would drop the rate from 35 to 25 percent, and reiterated his pledge to keep the Bush tax rates in place.

Incidentally, an interesting story in USA Today by Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic says that Sen. McCain has often talked about getting top U.S. business leaders into his administration. Several times on the campaign trail, McCain has mentioned Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Cisco’s John Chambers, and FedEx CEO Fred Smith as possible cabinet members.

Contrast all this with Hill-Bama. Take a look at some of the latest headlines. How about the front-page Wall Street Journal weekend story, “Democrats’ Attacks on Business Heat Up”? Or Sunday’s Washington Post editorial, “Trading Down — On economics, Mr. Obama goes populist,” which talks about Obama undoing free trade deals? Or today’s New York Times story by John Broder and Jeff Zeleny highlighting Hill-Bama’s populist class-warfare approach to businesses and successful investors?

Anti-business class warfare doesn’t work in the United States. John Kerry tried this tack in 2004. He lost. Ditto for Al Gore in 2000. Ditto for Michael Dukakis in ’88, Walter Mondale in ’84, and Jimmy Carter in ’80. It looks like Hill-Bama is making the same mistake all over again in 2008.

Bill Clinton was a moderate on all this. But Hill-Bama can’t move to the left fast enough. Rest assured that Sen. McCain will hold them accountable for their primary-season populist rhetoric during the general election.

There are a lot of reasons why the anti-business message doesn’t work. One important reason is that 138 million Americans work for these corporations. Their livelihoods depend on businesses. 138 million is a big number. Think of it.  

Larry Kudlow is the author of JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity, written with Brian Domitrovic.

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