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Club for Growth goes after McCain

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Fiscal conservative group The Club for Growth went after presumptive GOP nominee McCain on social security.

"We listened with concern yesterday to your interview with George Stephanopoulos on Social Security," the club's president Pat Toomey writes in a letter to McCain. "When asked if you would be open to raising the payroll tax, you refused to rule out a tax increase, saying 'There is nothing that's off the table.' This statement was particularly shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances."

Then, the club pulls out one of McCain's own quotes from February of this year: "No new taxes . . . In fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT."

"We strongly applaud the above statement and believe further tax cuts would play an important role in stimulating the country's economy," Toomey continues. "But your comments yesterday send American taxpayers and businesses a mixed message about where you stand on this issue."

The close: "We hope you will clarify where you stand on this important issue and reaffirm your commitment to eschew all tax increases."

Full letter:

Dear Senator McCain:

We listened with concern yesterday to your interview with George Stephanopoulos on Social Security.  When asked if you would be open to raising the payroll tax, you refused to rule out a tax increase, saying "There is nothing that's off the table."

This statement was particularly shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances.  In a March 2007 interview with Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, you ruled out accepting tax increases as part of a compromise to entitlement reform.  And on February 17 of this year, you told George Stephanopoulos, "No new taxes . . . In fact, I could see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates, which are the second highest in the world, giving people the ability to write off depreciation in a year, elimination of the AMT." 

We strongly applaud the above statement and believe further tax cuts would play an important role in stimulating the country's economy.  But your comments yesterday send American taxpayers and businesses a mixed message about where you stand on this issue.  Raising the payroll tax or the wage cap on Social Security taxes will increase the tax burden on many Americans and will only exacerbate the key problem with the current Social Security program—the low rate of return workers receive on their contributions into the system. You have long been a strong supporter of personal Social Security accounts, and we hope you will reaffirm you commitment to free-market-based reforms without tax increases so that we can truly empower and enrich workers in their retirement years.

We hope you will clarify where you stand on this important issue and reaffirm your commitment to eschew all tax increases.

Sincerely,
Pat Toomey
President, Club for Growth