Skip to content

Aides to McCain, Obama Spar Over Tax Policy

Advisers to both presidential nominees today discussed their positions on tax policy at a panel discussion, “Tax Policy at a Crossroads.”

John Taylor, a senior adviser to GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), touted the Republican plan to give large corporations tax breaks, calling it an incentive for those companies to create new jobs.

“These are tough times,” Taylor said as he outlined plans on McCain’s “Jobs for America” tax policy. These plans include removing what he called a tax penalty for those companies wishing to operate in the United States; not raising taxes, especially for small business; doubling the personal exemption for dependents; and providing a $5,000 health care tax credit.

“These policies have an ultimate goal of creating jobs,” he said. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) “would increase the tax rate. That is not a way to increase jobs to me. That is a job killer.”

But Austan Goolsbee, an economic adviser for the Obama campaign, attacked McCain’s proposal, calling the Bush administration an “abject failure” and the McCain policy more of the same.

“That was exactly the philosophy that George Bush pursued in 2001-2002, and it didn’t work,” Goolsbee said. “We have absolute evidence of what happens when you do that, and the answer is it doesn’t generate a booming economy/”

By contrast, he said, “Obama’s program would reduce the deficit” from where it is today, while the McCain program “would explode the deficit.”

While both campaign advisers voiced their concerns over the other’s proposals, other panelists agreed that both plans have gaps and budget problems.

“There’s enormous pressure on both sides to offer things to make people happy — more goodies, more tax expenditures, and to make ridiculous promises that they regret down the road,” said Leonard Burman, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

The event was co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.