In fact, even McCain's most loyal base, the newsmedia, thought this plan was ridiculous. Here's what Michael Shear and Jonathan Weisman had to say in yesterday's Washington Post about it.
Sen. John McCain yesterday offered sweeping rhetoric about the economic plight of working-class Americans, promising immediate assistance even as he spelled out a tax and spending agenda whose benefits are aimed squarely at spurring corporate growth.If this wasn't so pathetic, it would be laughable. Suspending a gas tax, while inflation is rising, wages are stagnating, and people can barely afford the high cost of basic food and gas, is absurd. It's not a plan based in reality but in rigid Republican orthodoxy.
In a speech billed as the most comprehensive summary of McCain's economic vision to date, the candidate proposed to eliminate the alternative minimum tax, slash corporate income tax rates and offer a grab bag of other business breaks. His most direct proposal for relief to working-class voters was a call to suspend the federal gasoline tax for the summer driving season.
Meanwhile, how does McCain propose to jump start the economy? More tax breaks to the very same billionaires who have been getting them all along. If that was effective, we would already have a sound economy from which the average person was benefiting.
The sad truth is during the boom years - and the last five or six years have been a time of strong economic growth and a sizzling economy - ordinary workers never saw any of the benefits of that growing economy. The problem is that the wage differential between the top one percent - the corporate CEOs and top executives - and the average working person has deepened. Here's what the Wall Street Journal, no populist journal, by an means, said back in 2006.
Since the end of 2000, gross domestic product per person in the U.S. has expanded 8.4%, adjusted for inflation, but the average weekly wage has edged down 0.3%.The article goes on to predict that wages for the average worker would go up.
That contrast goes a long way in explaining why many Americans tell pollsters they don't believe the Bush administration when it trumpets the economy's strength. What is behind the divergence? And what will change it?
Some factors aren't in dispute. Since the end of the recession of 2001, a lot of the growth in GDP per person -- that is, productivity -- has gone to profits, not wages. This reflects workers' lack of bargaining power in the face of high unemployment and companies' use of cost-cutting technology. Since 2000, labor's share of GDP, or the total value of goods and services produced in the nation, has fallen to 57% from 58% while profits' share has risen to almost 9% from 6%. (The remainder goes to interest, rent and other items.)
The Bush administration's defenders, and many private economists, say wages are bound to catch up. "Everything we know about economics and historical experience is that when productivity goes up, real wages go up, too," says Phillip Swagel, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who worked in the Bush White House. It took a couple of years for wages to catch up with accelerating productivity in the late 1990s, he says. "This time, it's taking three, maybe four or five."Yes, that's exactly what movement conservatives from the American Enterprise Institute have been promising for years. But in a cruel irony, wages never went up. The boom went bust and now it's the average wage earner who is being asked to shoulder the burden and tighten his belt while those who caused the housing bubble to burst, like Bears Stearn, are getting their bailout. In short, the boom left behind the vast majority of the middle class, which has never happened in history.
In past economic expansions, even when there was inequality, all classes saw some benefit no matter how modest. And in the recovery from the Great Depression in the 1930s, nobody benefited more than the average worker. For that you can thank FDR and his New Deal, something movement conservatives abhor and have worked feverishly to dismantle.
It took Bush and the movement conservatives to make history by presiding over one of the most dazzling expanions in years, which benefited only the top one percent and left everybody else behind during the gravy years. In fact, everybody else actually lost ground.
And what's McSame's solution for today's bust?
But much of what he detailed was a corporate special pleader's dream: a cut in the corporate income tax rate, from 35 percent to 25 percent, a proposal to allow businesses to write off the cost of new equipment and technology from their taxes, a ban on Internet and new cellphone taxes, and a permanent tax credit for research and development.Folks, we've seen this play before. We know how it ends. It ends with tax breaks for the wealthy who need it least, lip service and faux populism for the middle class, high unemployment, under-employment, no health care plan, no investment in infrastructure or education, and just as an extra bonus, a war in Iraq that goes on for another hundred years.
He promised to remove the "myriad corporate tax loopholes that are costly, unfair and inconsistent with a free-market economy," but he offered no specifics.
"I wish he'd be as aggressive with tax pork as he is with spending pork," said Leonard E. Burman, an Urban Institute tax policy analyst.
And McCain's proposed "middle-class tax cut" -- a full repeal of the alternative minimum tax -- stretched the definition of middle class. Of the 4 million taxpayers paying the AMT, 93 percent earn between $200,000 and $1 million, according to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
This man is no maverick. He's as Republican as they come and as bad for the country as they all are.