ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Senator John McCain said Thursday that the issue of whether to raise or lower taxes will be central to the general election debate between himself and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., if Obama is the nominee of the Democratic Party.
“Senator Obama has stated very clearly his desire to increase American’s taxes,” McCain said aboard his campaign plane between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
“He wants to raise American’s taxes and put more of their money into the hands of the government. I want to keep it in the wallets and purses of the American people.”
McCain, who will become the nominee of the Republican Party at its convention in September, was responding to comments Obama made earlier Thursday, when he called McCain’s change of position on taxes a matter of political expediency.
"We now have another effort to extend the Bush tax cuts, another effort to eliminate or drastically reduce the estate tax," Obama said while aboard his campaign plane headed to Washington, D.C. for Senate business. "These are all steps that John McCain rightly said were irresponsible when they first came up that certainly were unprecedented at a time of war. He made a decision to reverse himself on that, that was how I guess you got your ticket punch to be the Republican nominee. But, he was right then and he’s wrong now."
McCain voted against tax cuts sponsored by President Bush during the President’s first term. He has said repeatedly during this campaign that he opposed the Bush tax cuts because they did not have a commensurate level of spending reductions to go along with them.
The Arizona senator now says that allowing the tax cuts to expire would be tantamount to a tax increase on the American public, and that would be particularly bad during a period of economic turmoil.
“Particularly at this time of economic challenges, [Obama] wants to raise their taxes and take more of their income,” McCain said. “We’ll have that debate, I’ll look forward to it.