October 21st, 2008
05:54 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact check: Was McCain once against Bush tax cuts?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/21/art.boflpt1021.ap.jpg caption="Was Sen. Obama about Sen. McCain's positions on the Bush tax cuts? Get the facts!"]
The Statement: In a campaign stop Monday, October 20, in Tampa, Florida, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama criticized Republican opponent Sen. John McCain for comments he's made about taxes. "It's true that I want to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans and go back to the rate they paid under Bill Clinton. John McCain calls that socialism. What he forgets is that just a few years ago, he himself said those Bush tax cuts were irresponsible. He said he couldn't 'in good conscience' support a tax cut where the benefits went to the wealthy at the expense of 'middle-class Americans who most need tax relief.' "

Get the facts!

The Facts: On May 26, 2001, speaking on the Senate floor, McCain said, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief."

McCain was one of only two Republicans to vote against President Bush's $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut. Two years later, in May, 2003, McCain was just one of three Republicans to vote against additional Bush tax cuts because, he said, the cost of the Iraq war was not yet known. He later told a Wall Street Journal reporter that he opposed the 2003 tax cut because it was "too tilted to the wealthy."

Then, on May 11, 2006, McCain sided with the president by voting for an extension of the tax cuts. On NBC's "Meet the Press," he said the reason for the change was that "the economy had adjusted - the tax cuts were there." He went on to say that voting against the extension would have been "tantamount to a tax increase."

In recent months, along the campaign trail, McCain has repeatedly said he supports making Bush's tax cuts permanent rather than have them run out when the law expires in 2010.

The Verdict: True. As Obama states, McCain did say he could not support President Bush's tax cuts in 2001, saying it was because they went to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. He later supported extending them, saying the economy made them feasible at that later time.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain • Taxes
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