Fact Check: Focus on taxes, economy

September 19, 2008 7:13:25 PM PDT
After a week of shifting messages and sliding poll numbers, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain is attempting to shift the focus back to taxes.

It has been a rough week for McCain. The economic crisis has shifted the playing field against him. Friday, when he unfurled his economic plan, he was in large part upstaged by what the Bush administration had put in place Thursday night.

Friday, McCain returned to the basics. At a rally in Minnesota he talked taxes.

"A vote for Sen. Obama will guarantee higher taxes, fewer jobs and an even bigger federal government," McCain told the crowd.

McCain repeats that message in a new ad which says, "Obama and his liberal congressional allies want a massive government, billions in spending increases, wasteful pork."

Fact Check: Those are opinions, not facts. The ad continues with what are perported to be facts.

"And we would pay painful income taxes, skyrocketing taxes on life savings, electricity and home heating oil."

Fact Check: That is false. Obama's proposals will cut taxes for 80 percent of all workers and 95 percent of families with children, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Obama has said he will raise income and capital gains taxes for couples making more than $250,000 per year or singles making over $200,000. He has not proposed raising taxes on electricity or home heating oil, just the opposite -- he has proposed energy rebates.

Fact checkers have called McCain on this multiple times.

"He doesn't want you to know this, but under my tax plan tax rates will actually be lower than they were under Ronald Reagan. If you make less than $250,000 a year you will not see your taxes increase one dime. Not one dime," Obama said at a rally.

Obama is hitting back, but the Democratic ticket has also over-stepped.

"Our economy, I think still, the fundamentals are -- of our economy are strong," McCain said on Monday, and all week the Obama campaign has been running an ad with that quote.

Fact Check: The ad is misleading. Here is more of McCain's quote from that day: "There's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. And it is -- it's -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals are -- of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times."

That does not sound like what the Obama ad suggests. The next day, McCain said the fundamentals he was talking about were American workers. On Wednesday, he changed fundamentals to foundation.

ABC7 political analyst Professor Bruce Cain says that is part of why it has been a rough week.

"Anytime you have to explain yourself and you have to keep changing your message you're having a bad day, and that's essentially what's happening with McCain," said Professor Cain.

Our partners in this Fact Check can be found at FactCheck.org.

For a look at how the economic downturn is affecting this election's agenda, read The Back Story.


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