Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bipartisan Male Bovine Excrement, Part 2: Taxing Dishonesty

(This is part two of my analysis of the second 2008 presidential debate. For part one, click here.)

McCain went on to attack Obama for wanting to raise taxes on half of all small business income, but I ask you, what’s more important: money, or people? From this week’s Fox News Sunday, emphasis added:

[Host Chris Wallace:] When you combined Obama's proposed hikes in the income tax and the payroll tax, IRS figures show that two-thirds of all small business income would, in fact, be subject to higher taxes under Obama's tax plan.

[Missouri Democratic Senator Claire] MCCASKILL: Chris, 95 percent of small businessmen in this country make less than $250,000 a year. That is, in fact, the facts. And the bottom line is if you make less than $250,000 a year, you're not going to see one thin dime of any kind of tax increase under Barack Obama's plan.

WALLACE: But would you deny, Senator McCaskill, that two-thirds of all business income -- I'm not talking about the number of businessmen. I'm talking about the income that they get. Two-thirds of their income would be subject to higher taxes under the Obama plan.

MCCASKILL: I guess that's one way of saying that there's a few people making a lot of the money.

McCain told a similar lie about Obama’s income tax proposals when he said, “Nailing down Sen. Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. There has been five or six of them and if you wait long enough, there will probably be another one. But he wants to raise taxes.” But as Obama was quick to point out, he would actually CUT taxes for 95% of Americans. Now I’ve made it clear that I don’t think that’s a good idea right now, but let’s at least be honest about why it’s a bad idea.

Yet McCain seems to have checked his honesty at the door. He also accused Obama of having voted to raise taxes 94 times. And to that, I remind him of what Joe Biden said in the vice presidential debate after Sarah Palin made a similar charge:

The charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes. It's a bogus standard.

Of course, my disgust tonight is bipartisan, and I can’t help but wonder if Obama was using a similar “bogus standard” when he said that McCain has cast 23 votes against alternative fuels. Speaking of fuels and energy, McCain demanded, yet again, that we have offshore drilling. I wonder if he’s aware that Democrats allowed the ban on offshore drilling to expire last month?

And all this is just the fact checking I can do off the top of my head. If this is what someone can think of live, imagine what a crack research team could do with a full day! This is why it’s healthy – certainly in terms of blood pressure – to remember that every cloud has a silver lining. It wasn't ALL bad; I don't know if I agree with McCain's answer to a question about Russia, but he certainly seemed knowledgeable about the issue, and while both candidates ducked foreign policy questions, at least they ducked them honestly and didn't appear to by lying the whole way through. I applaud Tom Brokaw for being the first moderator since… well, ever, actually, to make the candidates follow the debate rules, even if he didn’t ask about poverty or global development. I also applaud both candidates for naming Warren Buffett as a potential Treasury Secretary, and am grateful that McCain didn’t bring up his campaign’s self-degrading charges that Obama might be a terrorist.

Still, one little ray of sunshine doesn’t do you much good when the downpour has already soaked your overcoat all the way through to your undies – especially if that downpour isn’t rain, but the yellow liquid that accompanies male bovine excrement. Sorry if that metaphor seems a little crass, but tonight’s debate was just that bad. What’s particularly disappointing is who it came from – a brilliant author and law professor who has spoken in such eloquent terms as to lift us to heights we haven’t felt in 28, if not 48, years, and a formerly honest maverick who really does know how to turn a political establishment on its head for the good of his country. If this is what we have to expect from even these two men, can we ever hope for an honest fight?

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