Taxing Times

April 15th is Tax Day which means it's as good a day as any to chart the distance John McCain has traveled on taxes.

Back in 2001, McCain voted against President Bush's $1.35 trillion 10-year tax cut, saying, "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."

Two years later, McCain voted against further Bush tax cuts, saying the costs of the Iraq war were not yet known.

McCain now supports extending the Bush tax cuts, saying that to do otherwise would be to tantamount to supporting a tax increase.

After crossing swords with Grover Norquist earlier this decade, McCain now finds himself in the good graces of the anti-tax activist who heads the conservative Americans for Tax Reform (A.T.R.).

"Why am I happy on taxes?" Norquist told ABC News. "Because he has endorsed and put out the four tax cuts that A.T.R. considers the key ones: expensing, cutting the corporate [tax] rate, extending the 2001 and 2003 [Bush] tax cuts, and getting rid of the A.M.T. [Alternative Minimum Tax]."

"And he has said three times on national T.V., 'I'll veto any tax increase, end of conversation,'" added Norquist.

Even though the Democrats have not yet settled on a presidential nominee, the liberal Center for American Progress (C.A.P.) recently previewed the party's eventual line of attack on taxes.

John McCain is offering "much less for the middle class than Bush," said Robert Gordon, a senior fellow with C.A.P.

Although a large portion of Bush's tax proposals were geared towards upper-income voters, Gordon argued that Bush was able to cast his plan during the 2000 campaign as benefiting the middle class by discussing the marriage penalty and his desire to expand child tax relief.

Norquist responded to the charge that McCain is offering less to the middle class than Bush by saying, "You can't slam him for wanting to continue the non-progressive 2003 bill if you don't give him credit for extending . . . the tax cuts that are weighed more heavily on a percentage basis to low-income people."

"They're being rather selective when they do that," he added.

Tuesday's tax plans:

On Tuesday, McCain delivers 9:45 am ET remarks on the economy.

To amplify the GOP's tax message, the RNC did a Monday call with GOP surrogates and is planning a research piece on the Democrats for Tuesday morning.

For his part, Norquist holds his annual Tax Day press conference at the National Press Club at 9:30 am ET.

As for the Democrats, both presidential contenders will appear in Washington, D.C.

Hillary Clinton gets her turn speaking to the AP's annual meeting at 1:30 pm ET while Barack Obama speaks to the Building Trades Legislative Conference.

The DNC signaled on Monday that it will use Tax Day to pressure John (and Cindy) McCain to release their tax returns.

"When will McCain release his tax returns?" asked the DNC's Damien LaVera in a missive to reporters. "Despite claiming to be an advocate for openness in government, McCain has never released his tax returns in his 25 years in Washington."

PA poll numbers coming:

Qunnipiac is set to release a poll of likely Democratic Pennsylvania primary voters on Tuesday at 11:00 am ET.

The poll could measure some of the fallout from Barack Obama's "bitter" remark but it may not measure the full fallout.

Qunnipiac went into the field on April 9; while Obama's depiction of small-town Pennsylvanians clinging to guns, religion, and nativism was not reported by the Huffington Post until April 11.

Qunnipiac's interviews concluded on April 13.

TiVo alert:

Michelle Obama appears on The Colbert Report.

The kicker(s):

"I think those comments are elitist."

--John McCain speaking to the AP's annual meeting about Barack Obama's depiction of small-town Pennsylvanians as clinging to guns, religion, and nativism out of bitterness

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

--Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) on Barack Obama at a Kentucky GOP fundraiser over the weekend

On the campaign front. . .


-- Attends Building Trades Legislative Conference, Washington, DC


-- 3:30 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Haverford, PA

-- Appears on the Colbert Report


-- 1:30 pm ET: Attends Associated Press Annual Meeting and Luncheon, Washington, DC

As for the Republicans. . .


-- 9:45 am ET: Delivers economic speech, Pittsburgh, PA

-- 4:10 pm ET: Holds media availability, Villanova, PA

-- 5:00 pm ET: Attends Hardball College Tour Town Hall, Villanova, PA

At the White House and Beyond. . .


-- 4:00 pm ET: Participates in the arrival ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI, Washington, DC


--8:30 am ET: Releases the Producer Price Index for March, Washington, DC


ABC News' Jan Simmonds: Obama's Controversial Former Pastor Criticizes Media at Funeral LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama Spin Level of Difficulty: 9.7 LINK

ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg, Howard L. Rosenberg, and Ariane de Vogue: Bush Aware of Advisers' Interrogation Talks LINK

ABC News' David Wright, Andy Fies and Sunlen Miller: Obama's Shot at Clinton's Shot LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Wayne LaPierre Interprets Obama's Remarks LINK

ABC News' Bret Hovell: McCain: Obama Guns Religion Remark 'Elitist' LINK

ABC News' Eloise Harper: Clinton Heckled for Obama Slam LINK


McCain Calls Obama Remark 'Elitist'
McCain responds to Obama's comments in which he cast rural voters as "bitter." LINK

Obama: Cut the Rhetoric, Look at the Reality
Obama defends against "bitter" remark & knocks rivals for taking lobbyist money. LINK

Barack: Shame on Hillary
Obama fires back at Clinton for her criticism about his "bitter" remarks. LINK

'View' Fight: McCain and Taxes
The ladies spar over tax breaks for the rich and John McCain's political agenda. LINK

Hasselbeck Rips Obama Comments
"View" co-host says Obama's remarks about rural Americans were a generalization. LINK

A Bitter Debate
The Democratic candidates spar over remarks made by Sen. Barack Obama. LINK

The Bottom Line for the Dems
George Stephanopoulos analyzes the severity of Sen. Obama's recent remarks. LINK

Verbal Sparring at City Hall Meeting
Detroit city council members clash over their embattled mayor. LINK

Mayors and Guns
Hundreds of mayors are in Washington, D.C., to address loopholes in gun laws. LINK