The Campaign Spot

Voters Think McCain Will Raise Taxes, and Obama Will Lower Them?

From the Washington Post poll:

Conversely, Obama’s pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House.

When the public really believes that the Republican will raise their taxes, and that the Democrat will lower them, that is either an astonishingly persuasive argument from Barack Obama or an unbelievably inept handling of the issue by John McCain*.

It’s an amazing ability to get voters to forget… well, the past generation of American tax history, as this chart from the Tax Policy Center shows.
When Jimmy Carter took office, the top marginal tax rate was 70 percent, and remained there until he left office.
Under Reagan, the top marginal tax rate decreased from 70 percent all the way down to 28 percent.
The first President Bush, famously backing down from his ‘read my lips’ pledge, incrased it to 31 percent.
Under Clinton, it increased from 31 percent to 39.6 percent.
Under Bush, the top tax rate lowered from 39.6 percent to 35 percent.

* Since President McCain would have a heavily-Democratic Congress, I suppose it’s plausible to say you could see him capitulate after a long budget fight (though it would be unwise). I’d bet a doughnut that if Obama wins, his middle-class tax cut promise will be among the first ones ditched after his victory — see Bill McGurn for memories of Bill Clinton’s shameless abandonment of a key pledge that helped get him elected.

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