The Debate: Obama Gets His Tax Cut in Early
Most voters have no idea that most of them would get tax cuts under Barack Obama’s presidency -- 95 percent of taxpayers, according to Obama’s estimate.
John McCain led early on in tonight’s debate with his longstanding attack on earmarks in the budget and pointed to all the earmarks Obama got for Illinois. Instead of defending the earmarks, Obama said he agreed with many of McCain’s criticisms of earmarks, but then turned the subject to taxes. Obama noted that the $18 billion in earmarks McCain was talking about looked small compared to McCain’s $300 billion tax cut.
Then Obama made a point he has not made often enough, or at least hasn’t gotten through: that his tax plan focuses its benefits on the middle class and the less-well-off while McCain’s plan gives much of its benefit to the well-off.
The idea that a Democrat might actually cut taxes is so foreign to many voters that Obama needs to use every opening he has to make the point -- and he just made it to one of the largest audiences he’ll ever get.
McCain, by the way, got in an early attack on Obama for being the most liberal member of the Senate. It’s a debatable point (it depends which year’s rating you look at). But then he tossed out a pretty good one liner: “It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.”
Obama’s retort was effective, too, in light of President Bush’s low approval ratings: Obama said his high liberal rating came mostly because he opposed President Bush’s “wrongheaded policies.”
And now, about half-way in, after a long economic discussion the debate that was scheduled to focus on foreign policy is finally turning to foreign policy. It’s probably a net plus for Obama that so much of this debate has already been consumed by a discussion of the economy, an issue that tilts Obama’s way.
| September 26, 2008; 9:46 PM ET
Categories: Dionne | Tags: E.J. Dionne
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