Updated: 1:22 p.m.
Leading voices in both parties sparred Sunday over the state of the economy and the role that Bush tax cuts should play in the recovery.
Sen. John McCain accused Democrats of “just flailing around” on the issue and criticized them for preparing to unveil a package of tax cuts this week that Republicans have been pushing for a year.
“We always like to see deathbed conversions,” the Arizona Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The fact is, if we’d have done this kind of thing nearly a couple of years ago, we’d be in better shape.”
McCain said the best way to create economic certainty is to extend tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush that are set to expire in January. He dismissed an idea being weighed by Democrats to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire and use that $35 billion to create targeted tax cuts for small businesses.
“Let’s get in the old class warfare again. Let’s get the rich,” McCain said, mocking Democrats. “Just extend the tax cuts.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who also appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” defended his party’s record on the economy. He pointed to positive upticks in recent months: private sector job growth for eight consecutive months and a rise in the gross domestic product, albeit a small one.
“Remember, we were shrinking at 6 percent a year when President Obama took office. … So there has been a turnaround from negative to positive,” he said. “We are climbing out of a ditch. The Democrats have built the ladder, and we’re climbing again.”
Kaine also rejected McCain’s idea of extending tax cuts for people with an annual salary of more than $1 million, saying that even if the cuts were extended, “they’re not going to be spent in a way to address the recovery.”
Obama will be back on the road this week to show that the economy is his top priority. He is set to give remarks at events in Milwaukee on Monday and Cleveland on Wednesday about the state of the economy, in addition to holding a White House news conference focused on the economy Friday.