Conservatives, to use the term loosely in describing America’s rightwingers, have seen most of their essential arguments against Barack Obama widely yawned upon and ignored. Very little gets their juices flowing anymore, except one thing nowadays: OMIGOD OBAWMA WILL TAX YOU INTO THE POORHOUSE! If you visit our friends over at Common Sense Political Thought, it’s the only topic they can muster any excitement over.
Now, first of all, it should be a matter of common sense at this point that McCain talks about Barack being all “tax and spend” while his plan is “borrow yet even more and boy I got me some spending plans you wouldn’t believe!” But specifics can help illuminate the scale of this difference.
Hilzoy, my favorite policy wonkster, dives into the Center for Tax Policy analysis of the tax and spend plans proposed by John McCain and Barack Obama.
The short version: over ten years, the proposals McCain actually makes on the stump would cost $2.7 trillion more than the policies his campaign describes, for a total cost of nearly $7 trillion over ten years. Over the same ten years, the proposals Obama makes on the stump would cost $367 billion less than the policies his campaign describes, for a total cost of a little under $2.5 trillion. (The main difference between what Obama says on the stump and what his campaign describes is his proposal to levy Social Security taxes on income over $250,000/year.)
Here’s a chart showing the effects of both candidates’ tax proposals (the ones they describe on the stump) on people in various income brackets, from p. 46 of the report. Note that while this graph shows taxes going up for people in the top quintile under Obama’s plan, a more detailed breakdown (p. 45) shows that taxes only go up for the top 5% (incomes over $226,918/year.) People in the 95th-99th percentiles ($226,918-$603,402/year) would pay $799 more a year, on average.
Now this is the complete destruction of everything McCain has to say about the economy. Well, as Hilzoy notes, what McCain has to say about his plans vs. the reality is quite a disparity…McCain underrepresents his spending by the total amount of Obama’s spending. That should be front page news, repeated over and over until it registers with our lovely swing voters. There is a choice between McCain’s $7 trillion in extra spending vs. Obama’s $2.5 trillion. What’s the conservative choice there? That should also be constantly repeated until November. And you see that it isn’t until the top 25% of earners where McCain’s plans start to benefit incomes more than Obama. When it comes to the top 1%, of course, we see who McCain is really interested in helping: the same people George W. Bush and his GOP have been about helping all along. Keep lowering taxes on them, keep spending like a drunken trophy wife (or one hopped up on prescription meds, ZING!), and hope that the public never asks, “Who, besides our grandchildren, will be the ones paying for all this?”
Now the problem is that if this analysis actually became mainstream information, the election would skew so far for Obama that McCain would have to shoot somebody to get the public’s attention. No amount of screaming “Wealth redistribution” would cut it, as McCain is continuing Bush’s policy of distributing the wealth of future generations to our fat asses today. People recognize more than ever I think that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, something you learn on your first day in Economics 101. Bush’s policies have a price tag, and McCain’s have an even bigger one. Somebody has to pay for it. And if your remind people they were doing better in the 90’s paying Clinton’s tax rates, it’s a complete no-brainer.
The Republican Party simply has no case for John McCain as president. The best argument for him is that he’s only slightly less insane than the average rightwinger, but from foreign policy to economic policy, he is at odds with the public and all reason. With our nation facing some hard times ahead, putting McCain in office is by far the riskier choice.
p.s. It’s a little known fact that a paper copy of the analysis will actually burn the skin of Grover Norquist.
p.s.s. Despite my poor phrasing, these numbers are about net cost once spending and tax revenue are figured in….those numbers are basically what would be added to the deficit.