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Taxes and Spending at Issue in Clash of Negative Ads

By Jonathan Weisman
The campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are now at war over taxes and spending.

Both candidates released hard-hitting, extremely negative ads today targeting their opponents over their respective economic plans. Obama is seeking to paint McCain's plan as a give-away to the wealthy, Big Oil and corporate tax scofflaws, with nothing for the little guy -- while McCain hammers Obama as a celebrity intent on frivolous spending who, unlike Paris Hilton, will spend your money instead of his own.

"Obama's got plans -- big plans -- for your money," McCain's radio ad intones ominously. "Eight hundred sixty three billion in new government programs -- a 23 percent increase in the size of government. Massive spending. That will lead to even higher budget deficits. Piling more debt on the backs of your children and grandchildren."

Obama's television spot is no less harsh: "John McCain's tax plan: For big corporations -- two hundred billion in new tax breaks. Oil companies -- four billion. Companies shipping jobs overseas -- keep their tax giveaways. While one-hundred million Americans get no tax relief at all."

Economic policy is supposed to be an arena where the numbers don't lie, but neither ad tells the full story.

Obama has proposed some large increases in spending, especially on his plans for universal health care, teacher pay raises, and renewable energy research and development. But the $863 billion government spending figure McCain's ad attributes to Obama seems to come from McCain adviser Carly Fiorina, and not from the Obama campaign.

Obama has also said he would stick to pay-as-you-go rules to make sure the deficit does not grow. He has detailed some ways to pay for his programs, including raising the top two income tax brackets back to where they stood in the Clinton administration and raising dividends and capital gains rates on families earning $250,000 or more. And he has also proposed cutting subsidies for private managed care companies offering Medicare plans, private student lenders and some farm programs.

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that while both tax plans would cost the Treasury money, McCain's would increase the deficit more.

But the details of Obama's cuts have been scant compared to the details of his spending, giving McCain an opening that he is taking. Moreover, while sticking to pay-as-you-go rules would keep the deficit from growing, Obama would have to go beyond that to shrink the tide of red ink. McCain fails to mention any of Obama's proposed spending cuts, and does not note that Obama's tax increases are only aimed at high-income families.

Obama is targeting McCain's plan to offer businesses a significant cut to the corporate income tax rate, which is one of the highest in the world and which McCain says is making U.S. industry less competitive.

But Obama is also double counting. Much of the $4 billion in tax breaks for oil companies Obama accuses McCain of wanting to grant them is the company's share of the $200 billion in broader business tax cuts McCain is proposing. Obama has promised to eliminate a provision in the tax code that allows corporations to defer taxes on profits from overseas operations until that money is brought back to the United States, a wrinkle in the tax code that he says encourages businesses to expand overseas. McCain does not propose eliminating that, but businesses argue that it is only fair to pay taxes on profits derived from overseas operations only when those profits reach U.S. shores.

As for the 100 million Americans who will get no tax relief under McCain's plan, most of those already pay little or no income tax and they benefit from McCain's proposal to make President Bush's lower-income tax bracket cuts permanent, something Obama agrees with.

Obama would give those taxpayers additional relief with a proposed tax rebate to offset the cost of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which, for many Americans, is now the lion's share of their tax burden.

Posted at 12:53 PM ET on Aug 20, 2008  | Category:  Ad Watch
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Comments

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All who want me to vote against one or the other should support adding a NO column to the ballot so I could do that. Absent that you need to sell me on the idea of voting for the one you support, not as a default vote against the other but as one that reflects support. A NO column and the highest net yes wins. It's honest. What's wrong with that?
We get to vote yes OR no on ballot measures. We should be able to on candidates, also.

Posted by: Valjean | August 21, 2008 11:57 AM

McSame is about as capable of being an effective president as he is dancing the Swine Lake ballet.

Posted by: Abolhassan Bani Sadr | August 21, 2008 10:31 AM

Hey...I crack up when someone says "the Republicans created no net new job" or "just service jobs" or whatever. Last I looked, entrepreneurs create jobs...companies create jobs...government sucks the life out of us.

Lower corporate taxes make us more competitive. A tax on a corporation is a tax on the purchaser (us) and a hindrance to competitiveness. Take an econ class for pete's sake.

Obama will raise taxes and spend spend spend. It's what liberals do. The US Treasury took in record receipts under Bush because the economy grew (thanks to tax breaks). Why is a tax break for a wealthy person unacceptable...but a big percentage of people in this country pay diddly squat in taxes and still want more back? If you choose to go make the big bucks...good for you. I think our tax policy should consider taxing lower incomes more that higher incomes...now that would be incentive to make more money!


Posted by: MakeUsProud | August 20, 2008 9:23 PM

McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts for the rich and the corporations permanent. He has admitted he knows nothing about economics.
Our country is deep in the red and McCain is pandering to the rich, trying to scare the middle class, and doesn't give a hoot about anyone but his rich friends and his corporate supporters. His rodeo queen wife #2 was a beer empire heiress -- so he and his wife have plenty of money to protect. (Never mind how he treated his first wife -- that's a whole story in itself -- can anyone say adultery?)
This is a man with ties to the Keating 5 from the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s.
This is the man who says he cares about the military and yet didn't support an improved GI bill. On behalf of my nephew who served in Iraq, thanks for nothing, McCain. But then, he had a rich father (who was an admiral) so he never had to worry about the cost of college. He did go to Annapolis where he was at the bottom of his class.

McCain doesn't have a clue how most Americans live.

Posted by: abby0802 | August 20, 2008 7:40 PM

McCain will help corporations... But, who is Obama kidding?

Barack Obama is going to help corporations as well... P-L-E-A-S-E!

All of this simple minded propaganda is laughable and ridiculios to say the least.

Hey Barack, "quit kissing the multi-national corporations rear-end (behind closed doors). You're making the word "accomodation" synonymous with prostitution.

The corporations are not in and of themselves evil... It's those that control them. Also, corporations "ought" to be conducting their business at the "priviledge of the American People", not visa versa.

Posted by: Randy | August 20, 2008 5:07 PM

Obama will win in November. Then when his sheep realize that the President doesn't have the power do just do whatever he wants and things don't turn into a utopia, he will crash and burn in 2012 after trying to give us a national healthcare system that will keep us waiting for months like Canada and the UK.

Posted by: Phil | August 20, 2008 5:06 PM

And if any of the negative ads convince me to vote against their target I should be able, directly and honestly...with a NO column and the highest net yes wins. Why do I have to vote for the trasher to vote against the trashee? I should be able to just vote in the NO column for the one I've been convinced is unworthy.

Posted by: Valjean | August 20, 2008 4:46 PM

Tim:

I'm still here -- that was the JakeD(s) at 2:30 and 2:21 PM -- maybe you and your spouse make more than $150,000 per year, and are therefore "rich", but the rest of "unintelligent" America sure could use $10 billion in gas tax relief.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 4:09 PM

Red hot off the A.P. wire

Obama ad; "Mc Cain would help corporations"

Duh..thus creating jobs, capital and tax revenues.

Obama is a flake
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/the_odd_choices_in_barack_obam.html

whose whims must be catered to, whose reputation must be protected, who must be constantly worked around if anything at all is to be accomplished, always at the cost of time, money, efficiency, and personal stress.

Whatever his shortcomings, nobody ever called John McCain a flake.


Posted by: rtfanning | August 20, 2008 3:21 PM

So...McCain's new campaign. Keep lying! Lie loudly and often! Distort, attack and divide!

Bush/Cheney/McCain! No More Years!

Posted by: thebob.bob | August 20, 2008 3:10 PM

McCain is getting a free ride from the mainstream corporate media. But with the power of YouTube and the blogosphere, we can provide an accurate portrayal of the so-called Maverick. We can put the brakes on his free ride!
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c
.

Posted by: astral99 | August 20, 2008 2:55 PM

All of you, shut up. McCain and Obama, they're both misleading. Now stop all the bipartisan propaganda and accept that they're all just politicians and neither of them can help it -- deception is as much a part of them as much as internet trolling is a part of you guys.

Posted by: Rob Zhang | August 20, 2008 2:50 PM

The Haves, the Have Mores and John McCain


Eight years ago, then Governor George W. Bush revealingly joked about his backers at the 2000 Al Smith Dinner. "This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores," Bush said, adding, "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base." With his own quip Saturday night that "$5 million" is his definition of "rich," John McCain made no mistake that he is Bush's natural heir.


Now, there is nothing wrong with being happily rich and utterly detached. Nothing, that is, unless you make criticizing your political opponent as "elitist" and "out of touch" a centerpiece of your campaign. Rick Davis, speaking on behalf of his $100 million man John McCain, earlier this month offered the latest formulation of Barack Obama as an effete, aloof denizen of the upper class:

"Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand 'MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew - Black Forest Berry Honest Tea' and worry about the price of arugula."

Of course, Davis' "arugula war" is just another attempt at misdirection. After all, John McCain's $5 million threshold where "you move from middle class to rich" is just the latest episode of his enduring disconnect from the real lives of the American people.


For starters, McCain in April declared that there had been "great progress economically" during the Bush years. On more than one occasion, he diagnosed Americans' concerns over the dismal U.S. economy as "psychological." (Phil Gramm, McCain's close friend and adviser supposedly excommunicated over his "whiners" remarks, was back with the campaign last week.) McCain, a man who owns eight homes nationwide, in March lectured Americans facing foreclosure that they ought to be "doing what is necessary -- working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets -- to make their payments on time." And when all else fails, McCain told the people of the economically devastated regions in Martin County, Kentucky and Youngstown, Ohio, there's always eBay.


In his defense, McCain's shocking tone-deafness may just be a matter of perspective. When you're as well off as he is, anything below a $5 million income (a figure exceeding that earned on average by the top 0.1% of Americans) seems middle class.


*The $100 Million Man*
-Courtesy of his wife Cindy's beer distribution fortune (one her late father apparently chose not to share with her half-sister Kathleen), the McCains are worth well over $100 million. (In the two-page tax summary she eventually released to the public, Cindy McCain reported another $6 million in 2006.) As Salon reported back in 2000, the second Mrs. McCain's millions were essential in launching her husband's political career. Unsurprisingly, the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti, who four years ago called Theresa Heinz-Kerry a "sugar mommy," has been silent on the topic of Cindy McCain.


*The Joys of (Eight) Home Ownership*
-While fellow adulterer John Edwards was pilloried for his mansion, John McCain's eight homes around the country have received little notice or criticism. His properties include a 10 acre lake-side Sedona estate, euphemistically called a "cabin" by the McCain campaign, and a home featured in Architectural Digest. The one featuring "remote control window coverings" was recently put up for sale. Still, their formidable resources did not prevent the McCains from failing to pay taxes on a tony La Jolla, California condo used by Cindy's aged aunt.


*The Anheuser-Busch Windfall*
-As it turns out, the beauty of globalization is in the eye of the beholder. While John McCain apparently played a critical role in facilitating DHL's takeover of Airborne (and with it, the looming loss of 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, Ohio), Cindy McCain is set to earn a staggering multi-million dollar pay-day from the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian beverage giant, In Bev. As the Wall Street Journal reported in July, Mrs. McCain runs the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the nation, and owns between $2.5 and $5 million in the company's stock. Amazingly, while Missouri's politicians of both parties lined up to try to block the sale, John McCain held a fundraiser in the Show Me State even as the In Bev deal was being finalized.


*McCain's $370,000 Personal Tax Break*
-Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress analyzed John McCain's tax proposals. The conclusion? McCain's plan is radically more regressive than even that of President Bush, delivering 58% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1% of American taxpayers. McCain's born-again support for the Bush tax cuts has one additional bonus for Mr. Straight Talk: the McCains would save an estimated $373,000 a year.


*Paying Off $225,000 Credit Card Debt, Priceless*
-That massive windfall from his own tax plan will come in handy for John McCain. As was reported in June, the McCains were carrying over $225,000 in credit card debt. The American Express card - don't leave your homes without it.


*Charity Begins at Home*
-As Harpers documented earlier this year, the McCains are true believers in the old saying that charity begins at home:

Between 2001 and 2006, McCain contributed roughly $950,000 to [their] foundation. That accounted for all of its listed income other than for $100 that came from an anonymous donor. During that same period, the McCain foundation made contributions of roughly $1.6 million. More than $500,000 went to his kids' private schools, most of which was donated when his children were attending those institutions. So McCain apparently received major tax deductions for supporting elite schools attended by his children.
Ironically, the McCain campaign last week blasted Barack Obama for having attended a private school in Hawaii on scholarship. That attack came just weeks after John McCain held an event at his old prep school, Episcopal High, an institution where fees now top $38,000 a year.


*Private Jet Setters*
-As the New York Times detailed back in April, John McCain enjoyed the use of his wife's private jet for his campaign, courtesy of election law loopholes he helped craft. Despite the controversy, McCain continued to use Cindy's corporate jet. For her part, Cindy McCain says that even with skyrocketing fuel costs, "in Arizona the only way to get around the state is by small private plane."


*Help on the Homefront*
-In these tough economic times, the McCains are able to stretch their household budget. As the AP reported in April, "McCain reported paying $136,572 in wages to household employees in 2007. Aides say the McCains pay for a caretaker for a cabin in Sedona, Ariz., child care for their teenage daughter, and a personal assistant for Cindy McCain."


*Well-Heeled in $520 Shoes*
-If clothes make the man, then John McCain has it made. As Huffington Post noted in July, "He has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop - from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA." It is altogether fitting that McCain wore the golden loafers during a golf outing with President George H.W. Bush in which he rode around in cart displaying the sign, "Property of Bush #41. Hands Off."


And so it goes. John McCain proclaims $5 million finally makes you rich. Meanwhile, ABC's Charlie Gibson thinks a $200,000 income makes you middle class. And his colleague Cokie Roberts claims Barack Obama's vacation to his home state of Hawaii was "exotic."

Posted by: McCain = Bush | August 20, 2008 2:45 PM

McCain admits he know very little about the economy. He can only repeat the policies of Bush who has run up the worst deficits since Ronald Reagan. McCain will be looking for other wars to get us into and will further drive our economy into the dirt. A weak dollar due to heavy debt drives up the price of oil and hurts everyone except Big Oil who will receive huge subsidies under McCain. He can barely answer a question in front of a live audience. McCain is not bright, not competent, is a tool of the Bushies who are managing his campaign. If he can't manage his own campaign without the help of the Big Lie and smear tactics of Karl Rove he certainly can't handle the US economy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 2:39 PM

I think I finally defeated the infamous JakeD!

Too much anti-McCain facts for you to skew?
Its hard to argue facts I guess.

Till next time JakeD! I will come with another myriad of quotes that prove that:

McCain is just a rich, spoiled, liar.

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:37 PM

Why does McCain think that lying is the best way to get in to office?

Does anyone really know the real McCain?

Why is McCain suddendly so Bush like?

Its like McCain has been mind controlled by Karl Rove.

Very strange!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 2:31 PM

I have nothing by rumors to fight the facts. I can't keep up!

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 2:30 PM

Cincinnati Enquirer: McCain's Ad, on A "Truthful" Scale From "0" to "10," Gets A "0." "HOW TRUTHFUL? 0 on a scale from 0 (misleading) to 10 (truthful)" "The McCain ad's claim that Obama says 'he'll raise taxes on electricity' is based on an interview Obama gave to a San Antonio newspaper in February in which he said 'what we ought to tax is a dirty energy like coal, and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.' According to the Obama campaign, what Obama was referring to in the interview was his proposal for a cap-and-trade mechanism that would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, allowing entities to buy and sell rights to emit. If that is the case, McCain is criticizing Obama for a proposal that he, too, supports." [Cincinnati Enquirer, 7/31/08]

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:29 PM

If you took the money McCain and Bush are spending on the Iraq fiasco and spent it on G.E. 1.5 megawatt wind turbines, you could buy over 40,000 of them. Running them 50% of the time would produce about half our energy demands - about what we produce with coal...


Just like his hero, Republican Prez Chimpy, McCain is a mental midget:
http://media.photobucket.com/image/country%20first/eclecticbrotha/Whichcountryfirst01.jpg?o=1

Posted by: casey | August 20, 2008 2:28 PM

New York Sun: "Some Conservatives Are Praising" Obama For His Tax Plan And A Senior Policy Analyst At The Heritage Foundation Said That The Middle Class Would Likely Pay Less Under Obama's Plan Than McCain's. "Senator Obama, with his lead against Senator McCain narrowing in some polls, is trying to portray himself as the real tax-cutter in the presidential race. And even some conservatives are praising him for it. A senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Rea Hederman Jr., praised Mr. Obama for proposing a 20% tax rate on dividends and capital gains, lower than a 28% rate he had initially floated, though still more than the current 15% rate. 'That's a great step in the right direction,' Mr. Hederman said. 'It's a big change from what we thought the Obama tax plan would be at the beginning of the summer.' Mr. Hederman said the middle class would likely pay less under Mr. Obama's plan than Mr. McCain's but that the Democrat was excessively reliant on complicated tax breaks that would make the tax code more confusing. 'Instead of a grab bag of tax credits, lower the marginal rates,' Mr. Hederman said." [New York Sun, 8/15/08]

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:27 PM

Recognize, y'all!!!!!!!

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:25 PM

Analysts Say That Obama's Tax Cut Plan "Offers Three Times The Break For Middle Class Families Than Proposals" Of McCain. "The tax cut plan of Democratic nominee to be Barack Obama offers three times the break for middle class families than proposals of likely Republican nominee John McCain, according to analysts working for a left-leaning think tank. Families making between $37,595 and $66,354 of annual income with Obama would get an average tax cut of $1,042 per family while McCain's tax cut for this group would be $319, the report states." [Nashua Telegraph, 6/12/08]


Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:24 PM

I

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:24 PM

"Tim:

Yes (comsumers still need gas price relief)."

The $.15 a gallon you will save for a few months is not worth the 10billion of lost taxs towards our road constuction.

When you get that super cheap gas(lol) you won't be able to drive because the roads/bridges will fall apart.

McCain has stupid ideas that only stupid people like. Every economist says that the gas tax holiday will not help anything. It is one of the biggest reasons Hillary lost the primaries. Its a bad idea, and everyone with intellegence knows it.

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:23 PM

I am as specific as Barack Obama!

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 2:21 PM

Politifact: McCain's Statement That Obama's Tax Plan Would Raise Taxes Is "False." Politifact reported, "So calling it a tax increase might not be considered fair. There's no disputing that taxes will rise, but the question of who's responsible for that tax increase is another matter entirely. At PolitiFact, we've concluded, as have others, that it's unfair to call Obama's plan a tax increase merely because it doesn't change existing tax law to keep rates low. We think about it this way: The reason taxes will increase is because of tax policy signed into law not by Obama, but by somebody else... the more recent data -- combined with the fact that Obama's proposal does not constitute a tax increase in the traditional sense, since some taxes would be lower under his plan than they would under current law -- persuades us to classify McCain's statement as False." [Politifact, 6/11/08]

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:20 PM

Politifact: McCain's Statement That Obama's Tax Plan Would Raise Taxes Is "False." Politifact reported, "So calling it a tax increase might not be considered fair. There's no disputing that taxes will rise, but the question of who's responsible for that tax increase is another matter entirely. At PolitiFact, we've concluded, as have others, that it's unfair to call Obama's plan a tax increase merely because it doesn't change existing tax law to keep rates low. We think about it this way: The reason taxes will increase is because of tax policy signed into law not by Obama, but by somebody else... the more recent data -- combined with the fact that Obama's proposal does not constitute a tax increase in the traditional sense, since some taxes would be lower under his plan than they would under current law -- persuades us to classify McCain's statement as False." [Politifact, 6/11/08]

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:19 PM

Tim:

Yes (comsumers still need gas price relief).

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 2:16 PM

Annenberg Political Fact Check: Claim That Obama "Promises More Taxes On Small Business, Seniors, Your Life Savings, Your Family" Is "Simply Not True For The Vast Majority Of Viewers Who Will See It." "The TV ad also says that Obama 'promises more taxes on small business, seniors, your life savings, your family.' This statement is simply not true for the vast majority of viewers who will see it. Obama, in fact, promises to deliver a $1,000 tax cut for families making up to $150,000 a year, and he says he would increase income tax rates, capital gains tax rates and taxes on dividends only for those with family incomes over $250,000 a year, or for single taxpayers making over $200,000." [FactCheck.org, 8/8/08]

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:16 PM

Gas Tax Holiday Would Cost $10 Billion. An Arizona Republic editorial questions McCain's summer gas tax holiday proposal, asking "do we really want to extract $10 billion from the nation's woefully underfunded transportation infrastructure?"

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:15 PM

New York Times: McCain's Budget Will Add $150 to $250 Billion More To The Deficit Per Year Than the Obama Plan. "The Obama campaign claims it can pay for all this, and even reduce the deficit, through tax increases and spending cuts. I think a more skeptical look at its budget leaves you worried it may add something like $50 billion a year to the deficit. But applying the same arched brow to Mr. McCain's stated plans leaves you worried that he will add $200 billion or $300 billion or, depending on his voluntary tax system, even more."

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:14 PM

McCain puts out commercials with outright, proven, lies.

Obama puts out commercials with facts.

And you idiots still think we need a president that will lie to get what he wants?

Before you argue anything about my comment, first you have to admit that McCain's ads contain some lies, and nothing Obama has put in a commercial has been a lie.

Then you have to realize that no matter what you say about Obama, at least he is not a liar.

If you want you can try and PROVE (key word here) that Obama lied about anything. Your opinions do not count. I want to see an Obama quote, followed by a quote by someone respectable provening Obama lied. Anything less is just more idiots repeating rumors.

Posted by: Tim | August 20, 2008 2:10 PM

Poll Date Sample Obama (D) McCain (R) Spread
RCP Average 08/04 - 08/19 -- 44.9 43.6 Obama +1.3
LA Times/Bloomberg 08/15 - 08/18 1248 RV 45 43 Obama +2
Reuters/Zogby 08/14 - 08/16 1089 LV 41 46 McCain +5
Gallup Tracking 08/17 - 08/19 2658 RV 45 43 Obama +2
Rasmussen Tracking 08/17 - 08/19 3000 LV 47 46 Obama +1
Quinnipiac 08/12 - 08/17 1547 LV 47 42 Obama +5
Battleground 08/10 - 08/14 1000 LV 46 47 McCain +1
IBD/TIPP 08/04 - 08/09 856 RV 43 38 Obama +5

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 2:04 PM

Fake JakeD:

If there's something specific I've posted that you can't understand, please let me know.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 2:02 PM

What am I talking about?

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:52 PM

Ah, yes. The "new kind of politician" is now thrown under the bus. Just like every other position Obama ever expounded! A total inability to take a solid stand, a complete lack of commitment. Could it come from his father ducking out on his family?

Whatever, it is again showing in Obama's inability to name a VP - he would have to stand up for the guy! Obama would rather have "options" and attention than to make a decision!

The guy should go back to teaching! Like they say, those who can do, do and those who can't teach.

Posted by: Keith | August 20, 2008 1:43 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

The reversal follows a month of attacks by McCain, who has questioned Obama's experience, criticized his opposition to most new offshore oil drilling and mocked his overseas trip.

The poll was taken Thursday through Saturday as Obama wrapped up a weeklong vacation in Hawaii that ceded the political spotlight to McCain, who seized on Russia's invasion of Georgia to emphasize his foreign policy views.

"There is no doubt the campaign to discredit Obama is paying off for McCain right now," pollster John Zogby said. "This is a significant ebb for Obama."

McCain now has a 9-point edge, 49 percent to 40 percent, over Obama on the critical question of who would be the best manager of the economy -- an issue nearly half of voters said was their top concern in the November 4 presidential election.

That margin reversed Obama's 4-point edge last month on the economy over McCain, an Arizona senator and former Vietnam prisoner of war who has admitted a lack of economic expertise and shows far greater interest in foreign and military policy.

McCain has been on the offensive against Obama during the last month over energy concerns, with polls showing strong majorities supporting his call for an expansion of offshore oil drilling as gasoline prices hover near $4 a gallon.

Obama had opposed new offshore drilling, but said recently he would support a limited expansion as part of a comprehensive energy program.

That was one of several recent policy shifts for Obama, as he positions himself for the general election battle. But Zogby said the changes could be taking a toll on Obama's support, particularly among Democrats and self-described liberals.

"That hairline difference between nuance and what appears to be flip-flopping is hurting him with liberal voters," Zogby said.

Obama's support among Democrats fell 9 percentage points this month to 74 percent, while McCain has the backing of 81 percent of Republicans. Support for Obama, an Illinois senator, fell 12 percentage points among liberals, with 10 percent of liberals still undecided compared to 9 percent of conservatives.

OBAMA NEEDS TO WORK ON BASE

"Conservatives were supposed to be the bigger problem for McCain," Zogby said. "Obama still has work to do on his base. At this point McCain seems to be doing a better job with his."

The dip in support for Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, cut across demographic and ideological lines. He slipped among Catholics, born-again Christians, women, independents and younger voters. He retained the support of more than 90 percent of black voters.

"There were no wild swings, there isn't one group that is radically different than last month or even two months ago. It was just a steady decline for Obama across the board," Zogby said.

Obama's support among voters between the ages of 18 and 29, which had been one of his strengths, slipped 12 percentage points to 52 percent. McCain, who will turn 72 next week, was winning 40 percent of younger voters.

"Those are not the numbers Obama needs to win," Zogby said about Americans under 30. The 47-year-old is counting on a strong turnout among young voters, a key bloc of support during his primary battle with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

It made little difference when independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr, who are both trying to add their names to state ballots.

McCain still held a 5-point edge over Obama, 44 percent to 39 percent, when all four names were included. Barr earned 3 percent and Nader 2 percent.

Most national polls have given Obama a narrow lead over McCain throughout the summer. In the Reuters/Zogby poll, Obama had a 5-point lead in June, shortly after he clinched the Democratic nomination, and an 8-point lead on McCain in May.

The telephone poll of 1,089 likely voters had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The poll was taken as both candidates head into their nominating conventions and the announcements of their choices of vice presidential picks. The Democratic convention begins on Monday in Denver, with the Republican convention opening the next Monday, September 1, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:32 PM

Republicans have us at war in two countries as a result of Republican lies and deceptions, and we might be in two more wars--Iran and Pakistan--by November. We have alienated the entire Muslim world and most of the rest.

The dollar has lost 60% of its value against the euro, and the once mighty dollar is losing its reserve currency role.

The Republicans' policies have driven up the price of both oil and gold by 400%.

Inflation is in double digits. Employment is falling.

The Republican economy in the 21st century has been unable to create net new jobs for Americans except for low wage domestic services such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks and hospital orderlies.

Republican deregulation brought about fraud in mortgage lending and dangerous financial instruments which have collapsed the housing market, leaving a million or more homeowners facing foreclosure. The financial system is in disarray and might collapse from insolvency.

The trade and budget deficits have exploded. The US trade deficit is larger than the combined trade deficits of every deficit country in the world.

The US can no longer finance its wars or its own government and relies on foreign loans to function day to day. To pay for its consumption, the US sells its existing assets--companies, real estate, toll roads, whatever it can offer--to foreigners.

Republicans have run roughshod over the US Constitution, Congress, the courts and civil liberties. Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they believe that our civil liberties make us unsafe--precisely the opposite view of our Founding Fathers. Yet, Republicans regard themselves as the Patriotic Party.

The Republicans have violated the Nuremberg prohibitions against war crimes, and they have violated the Geneva Conventions against torture and abuse of prisoners. Republican disregard for human rights ranks with that of history's great tyrants.

The Republicans have put in place the foundation for a police state, which they have no problem using against fellow citizens!

We must get the Republicans totally out of power, or we will have no country left for any of us!

Posted by: Franky | August 20, 2008 1:31 PM

This article sounds like it was written by the McCain campaign or maybe Jim Corsi. Basicaly, McCain's ad was an outright lie - there is no documentation to prove anything he said (Carly Fiorina? like that's a reliable source!). Obama's ad is basically true. It is totally accurate to point out that McCain's tax plan offers no relief for a 100 million Americans when that is a FACT. Obama's plan does givre relief to those 100 million through his payroll tax rebate. How hard it that to understand WAPO?

Posted by: NM Moderate | August 20, 2008 1:29 PM

matt:

McCain didn't throw Rev. Wright, Larry Sinclair, or cocaine use at The One (yet ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:17 PM

I think Obama needs to throw everything at McCain and see what happens to stick: Just like McCain did in July.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: matt | August 20, 2008 1:15 PM

It was interesting that Obama said anyone making over $250,000 was "rich" but left a lot of us making between $150K to $250K in limbo. That clip from the Saddleback Forum (along with his entire answer to "Does Evil Exist?") should be played over and over by McCain's camp.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:09 PM

AK:

Will the super delgates wake up to that reality before next week? I doubt it.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:07 PM

Barack Obama's appeal was that he was a new kind of politician: above the fray, a bipartisan healer, an optimist among bitter pessimists. Anyone with a brain knew that it was baloney, but the press pushed the narrative and enough people bought it to propel Obama to the nomination.

Now that Obama is revealed as just another politician, what does he have left? He's an empty suit, and even Democrats are starting to come around on the idea.

There's nothing wrong, per se, with being a regular politician, but Obama promised us a rose garden, and he hasn't delivered.

Posted by: AK | August 20, 2008 1:05 PM

Fancy John: Wealthy, well-heeled, son-of-privilege gets tough on whiny Americans.

http://nahnopenotquite.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/fancy-john-mccain/

Posted by: Nah Nope | August 20, 2008 1:04 PM

Wanna bet that Obama's "proposed tax rebates" never get passed but married couples over $150,000 still get their taxes raised? I wouldn't be surprised if taxes are raised on lower income levels too.

Posted by: JakeD | August 20, 2008 1:01 PM

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