Talk about a political gimme. By my count, six of the past seven American presidential elections have been won by the candidate perceived by middle-class voters as the Tax Cutter. Not the Spending Cutter or the Budget Balancer or the Redistributionist or the New New Dealer. The Tax Cutter.
And who is perceived as the Tax Cutter in 2008? Probably it's Barack Obama since he says that a) he wants to cut taxes for 95 percent of working families and b) John McCain wants to raise middle-class taxes by taxing healthcare benefits. McCain has done a poor job of attacking either of those claims...or making it clear how his corporate tax cut helps workers...or stressing enough of late how his energy policy will cut the "energy tax" on consumers. No wonder voters perceive Obama as better on the economy by 54 to 39 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
So with less than a month to go until Election Day, the time is now for McCain to turn around those perceptions if he wants to win. In addition to debunking a) and b), he needs to do c) propose a sweeping middle-class tax cut as both tax relief and a way of returning the economy to prosperity. Remember, McCain still has a fuzzy proposal for an alternative tax system floating around the policy ether. Time to fill in the blanks by stealing the best ideas around:
1) Steal Rep. Paul Ryan's idea for a simple, two-tier tax system with middle-class rates at no more than 15 percent.
2) Steal Mitt Romney's idea for a zero capital gains tax rate for anyone making less than $200,000 a year.
3) Steal National Review writer Ramesh Ponnuru's idea to quintuple the child tax credit to $5,000 a year.
McCain might also want to suggest cutting payroll taxes for folks with two or more kids since larger families actually help make Social Security more solvent by producing more workers.