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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

I’m Not Bush; I’m Tom DeLay!

John McCain’s decision to go right over the brink and start attacking Obama’s tax plan as “welfare” associates him with one of the hoariest of right-wing arguments: the idea that refundable income tax credits for people with payroll tax but not income tax liability amount to welfare payments.
It’s also an argument that none other than George W. Bush famously repudiated back in 1999, when House Republicans tried (for short-term budget purposes) to change earned income tax credit refunds to a monthly rather than annual payment, on the theory (loudly championed by Tom DeLay) that such payments were nothing more than welfare, and should be paid out like welfare. And at about the same time, it was repudiated by, yes, John McCain, who said Congress shouldn’t “tamper with a much-needed tax credit for working Americans.”
It speaks volumes about McCain’s campaign that he’s now flip-flopped on this very fundamental and entirely familiar issue, and embraced the political ghost of Tom DeLay. In combination with his earlier espousal of the ACORN/CRA/Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conspiracy theory blaming poor and minority people for the housing and financial crisis, his identification with the implicitly racist “voter fraud” canard, and his heavy-handed evocation of the terrible tax burden imposed by shiftless people on Joe the Plumber, there’s no longer any doubt that the oh-so-honorable John McCain in engaged in race-baiting demogoguery of the highest order.

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