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Sen. John McCain was one of the few Republicans who opposed tax cuts proposed by President George W. Bush in 2001, and he opposed them again when they came up for renewal in 2003.
In 2001, McCain voted against a $1.35-trillion tax cut package, arguing that the tax cuts didn't do enough for the middle class, and because of a need for increased defense spending.
Two years later, McCain again citied fiscal prudence for opposing $350-billion in additional tax cuts, specifically citing the unknown costs for the war in Iraq.
"No one can be expected to make an informed decision about fiscal policy at this time," McCain said. "Let us wait until we have succeeded in Iraq."
When they came up for renewal again in 2006, though, he voted in favor of them.
McCain said he supported the tax-cut extensions, which also reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividend income, because "American businesses and investors need a stable and predictable tax policy to continue contributing to the growth of our economy. These considerations lead me to the conclusion that we should not reverse course by letting higher tax rates take effect."
In an interview on Fox News on Dec. 28, 2007, McCain expressed no regrets about his tax votes against Bush. He said he would have preferred a plan that included spending cuts as well as tax cuts, but added that he believes the tax cuts should now be made permanent.
"I had significant tax cuts, and there was restraint of spending included in my proposal," McCain said during the appearance on Hannity & Colmes . "I saw no restraint in spending. We presided over the greatest increase in the size of government since the Great Society. Spending went completely out of control. It's still out of control. Wasteful earmark spending is a disgrace, and it caused us to alienate our Republican base. So these tax cuts need to be made permanent. Otherwise, they would have the effect of tax increases. But, look, if we had gotten spending under control, we'd be talking about more tax cuts today."
Justifications aside, this is an actual change of position for McCain, so we rate his change on the Bush tax cuts a Full Flop.
CQ Weekly, "John McCain: Softening the Skeptics," by David Nather, May 8, 2006
Washington Times, "McCain Looks Presidential on Taxes," by Donald Lambro, Feb. 27, 2006
CQ Today, "Senate Approaches Showdown on Tax Cuts," Joseph J. Schatz, March 18, 2003
Sen. John McCain, McCain statement on final tax reconciliation bill , May 26, 2001
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