The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
During primary season in 2000, I came upon my boss—a longtime Democratic insider—reading John McCain's tax plan. “It’s really good,” he said, and a lot better than the proposals of the other contenders—George W. Bush on the Republican side and Vice President Al Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee. McCain’s plan was fiscally responsible and would have closed many individual and corporate loopholes to provide a significant tax cut for the middle class. McCain was proud that his plan would have done much less for millionaires than Bush’s proposal.
In contrast, Bush promised giant tax cuts targeted at the wealthy. Gore recycled many of the proposals that Treasury shot down when other Clinton staffers proposed them. Had McCain been the Republican candidate, I would have had to think twice about voting for Vice President Gore. And had the hanging chads fallen Senator McCain’s way, I’d have known that his lifetime of service made him worthy of the highest office in the land.
Although McCain backed away from fiscally responsible tax reform in 2008, he did propose a cap-and-trade program to address climate change. After the election, his opponent, Barack Obama, adopted the idea, but it died in Congress. Critics like to point out the occasions where McCain took politically expedient positions that deviated from his core beliefs, but it’s hard to think of a successful politician of either party who never compromises and who always stands on unchanging principles. Still, McCain had values that he would never violate; yet he was willing to work with his adversaries to advance good policy. Both traits distinguished him from some current political leaders.
Senator McCain was an American hero and a truly admirable man. Rest in peace, John McCain.
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