The Real McCain

McCain’s tax and health-care proposals ought to help focus progressive attention on November rather than Obama-v.-Clinton sniping.

Having opposed the Bush tax cuts because they were unfair distributionally and imprudent in the face of a war, John McCain now proposes to make the Bush cuts permanent, and add an equal dollar volume of even more distributionally unfair tax cuts, in the face of a war he intends to continue for another 100 years.

But don’t worry: McCain’s “economic adviser” promises that the Tooth Fairy will make it all better, and anyway we should wait for McCain to “flesh out” his proposals.

In fact, of course, McCain would have to propose massive spending cuts or tax increases sometime in the sweet by-and-by, presumably after the election, in order to meet his stated goal of a balanced budget by 2012.

McCain also wants to wreck the private health insurance market by substituting Health Savings Accounts and individual tax credits for employer-purchased health plans.

Think about that the next time you hear a “progressive” explaining why if the Democrat he favors doesn’t win the nomination, he’s staying home or voting for Nader or voting Republican. Back in primary reality, this stuff counts, and temper tantrums don’t.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: