McCain in 2000 Defended ‘Progressive’ Taxation from Charge of ‘Socialism’: ‘When You Reach a Certain Level of Comfort, There's Nothing Wrong with Paying Somewhat More’

On October 12, 2000, on the Hardball College Tour, at a stop at Michigan State University, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defended progressive taxation from the charge of Socialism. It's really quite a remarkable clip; he sounds like Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

STUDENT: Why is it that someone like my father who goes to school for 13 years gets penalized in a huge tax bracket because he's a doctor. Why is that - why does he have to pay higher taxes than everybody else? Just because he makes more money. How is that fair?

MCCAIN: I think you're questioning, questioning the fundamentals of a progressive tax system where people who make more money pay more in taxes than a flat across the board percentage. I think it's to some degree because we feel obviously that wealthy people can afford more. We have over the years beginning with John F. Kennedy reduced some of those marginal tax rates to make them less onerous. I believe that when you really look at the tax code the very wealthy because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes really don't pay as much as you think they do, when you just kook at the percentages. And I think middle income Americans, working Americans, who when you count in payroll taxes, sales taxes, mortgage -- all of the, all of the taxes that working Americans pay -- I think you would also think that they also deserve very significant relief.

At that point host Chris Matthews asked for members of the audience to applaud if they support wealthier people paying a higher percentage of their incomes; there was loud applause.

STUDENT: I still don't see how that's fair...aren't we getting closer and closer to Socialism and stuff...?

MCCAIN: Look, here's what I really believe: That when you are, when you reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more. But at the same time it shouldn't be totally out of proportion.

McCain added that the "first people who deserve a tax cut are working Americans...and they're the ones I would support tax cuts for first."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart I believe was the first to find this clip.

Joked Stewart, "that of course was the late Socialist leader John McCain. I believe he passed away during the Republican primaries, he will be missed."

-- jpt

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