‘Outright lie’ on taxes

‘OUTRIGHT LIE’ ON TAXES…. When he’s not talking about Britney Spears, arugula, or tire-pressure gauges, John McCain tends to attack Barack Obama on taxes. In fact, most of McCain recent ads feature the phrase “higher taxes” — in all caps — alongside Obama’s picture.

Obama is no doubt aware of McCain’s deceptive attacks, and emphasized his tax plan in his acceptance speech in Denver on Thursday: “You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. I’ll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow. I will — listen now — I will cut taxes — cut taxes — for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.”

With that in mind, it was encouraging to see the Washington Post editorial board note today that “McCain’s ads on taxes are just plain false,” and his campaign’s message is peddling a “phony, misleading and at times outright dishonest” line.

[T]he McCain campaign insists on completely misrepresenting Mr. Obama’s plan. The ad opens with the Obama-as-celebrity theme — “Celebrities don’t have to worry about family budgets, but we sure do,” says the female announcer. “We’re paying more for food and gas, making it harder to save for college, retirement.” Then she sticks it to him: “Obama’s solution? Higher taxes, called ‘a recipe for economic disaster.’ He’s ready to raise your taxes but not ready to lead.”

The facts? The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that the Obama plan would give households in the bottom fifth of the income distribution an average tax cut of 5.5 percent of income ($567) in 2009, while those in the middle fifth would get an average cut of 2.6 percent of income ($1,118). “Your taxes” would go up, yes — but not if you’re someone who is sweating higher gas prices. By contrast, Mr. McCain’s tax plan would give those in the bottom fifth of income an average tax cut of $21 in 2009. The middle fifth would get $325 — less than a third of the Obama cut. The wealthiest taxpayers make out terrifically.

The Post doesn’t seem fond of any plan to cut taxes, but the editorial board nevertheless concludes that McCain has been pushing an “outright lie.”

Given that news outlets are generally very reluctant to use the “l” word when it comes to McCain’s shameless dishonesty, it was encouraging to see Hiatt & Co. set the record straight.