Senator McCain opening door to tax increases?


On “Fox News Sunday,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) thoroughly denounced sequestration. He also said he opposes tax increases to replace part of the sequester:

WALLACE: You just heard Nancy Pelosi talk about these automatic spending cuts, that kick in on March 1st. She wants a mix of cuts and, yes, more taxes, which I know you don’t like. On the other hand, if you go to the automatic cuts, sequestration, you get a 13 percent cut over the rest of the year in the Pentagon, which I know you also don’t like.
If it comes down to that, higher taxes, or sequestration, the Pentagon cuts, where do you go? Where do you come down?
MCCAIN: Well, obviously, I don’t want to see tax increased. But what I would like to see is the president call the leaders over to the White House and say, look, we’ve got to solve this problem. The sequestration — Secretary Panetta, outgoing secretary of defense, is one of the most widely respected men or person in Washington, D.C., and he has been saying it will devastate our national security. We are — Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this new cliff and I’ll take responsibility for it for the Republicans.

But we’ve got to avoid it. We’ve got to stop it.

Just moments later, though, the Senator seemed to open the door to “revenue closers,” i.e. elimination of special interest loopholes, i.e. tax increases:

The consequences are severe. It requires bipartisanship. Will I look at revenue closers? Maybe so. But we’ve already just raised taxes. Why do we have to raise taxes again?

This is bothersome. Senator McCain is not nearly as influential in the Republican caucus as he was just five years ago, nor in the Senate as a whole. However, he is still very popular in the media, as evidenced by this interview, and that could be even more problematic for the spending reductions aimed at the Defense Department.

Senator McCain is correct that taxes were just raised, and any attempt to raise them again is not good public policy. If Congress does eliminate special interest loopholes, it should simultaneously lower tax rates across the board in order to encourage faster economic growth – which would then bring in more tax revenue. However, that is not what the President, House Minority Leader Pelosi, or Senator McCain are talking about.

It is understandable that Senator McCain is opposed to the defense aspects of sequestration. After all, mandatory spending and interest payments are the medium-term and long-term threats to America’s fiscal future. Additionally, defense spending is one of the few constitutional uses of tax dollars. Finally, sequestration is going to hit defense spending across the board, not in the carefully considered fashion it ought to.

However, the Defense Department is rife with fraud and inefficiency. Tens of billions could be cut with ease, yet exactly where is unknown because the Pentagon has never been fully audited. While better methods for cutting defense spending exist, until Senator McCain and other Members of Congress in both parties step up and fight to balance the budget, sequestration should happen. Otherwise, Washington is being allowed to yet again kick the can down the road in its entirety, instead of just partially.

Tea Party Patriots has reached out to Senator McCain’s office for comment about his statement in favor of tax increases. We will update this post if we receive a comment.