- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain’s flip

“Would someone please tell Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s presidential wannabe, that straight talk and flip-flopping don’t mix,” Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes writes.

“Not in the space of a month. Not when the issue — whether the next president supports allowing individual states to set emissions rules for new cars and trucks — means Detroit’s automakers could face billions more in R&D spending should the so-called EPA waiver sought by California and a dozen or so other states become law,” Mr. Howes said.

“One of the last things this beleaguered industry needs is more friends like McCain, whose record of being the Republican Party’s leading automotive antagonist is showing through on the campaign trail. On that, at least, he’s consistent.

“A few thoughts: Does anyone in the Arizona senator’s campaign, which stopped Friday at General Motors Corp.’s Tech Center in Warren, actually brief the candidate? Do they know the difference between a single national standard for emissions and allowing the zealots in the California Assembly to set their own emissions targets? Do they know how much each costs? Do they care? If not, why waste time here?

“‘You’d think before you come to Detroit or GM, you’d have a pretty concise answer on this,’ an executive with a rival automaker tells me. ‘Michigan should be a competitive state for him, but it almost feels like he’s doing what he can to lose it.’ ”

Rich data

“Washington is teeing up ‘the rich’ for a big tax hike next year, as a way to make them ‘pay their fair share.’ Well, the latest IRS data have arrived on who paid what share of income taxes in 2006, and it’s going to be hard for the rich to pay any more than they already do,” the Wall Street Journal said Monday in an editorial.

“The data show that the 2003 Bush tax cuts caused what may be the biggest increase in tax payments by the rich in American history,” the newspaper said.

“The new information “shows that the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those who earn above $388,806, paid 40 percent of all income taxes in 2006, the highest share in at least 40 years. The top 10 percent in income, those earning more than $108,904, paid 71 percent. Barack Obama says he’s going to cut taxes for those at the bottom, but that’s also going to be a challenge because Americans with an income below the median paid a record low 2.9 percent of all income taxes, while the top 50 percent paid 97.1 percent. Perhaps he thinks half the country should pay all the taxes to support the other half.

“Aha, we are told: The rich paid more taxes because they made a greater share of the money. That is true. The top 1 percent earned 22 percent of all reported income. But they also paid a share of taxes not far from double their share of income. In other words, the tax code is already steeply progressive.”

The idea that the Bush tax cuts have been a giveaway to the rich “is a figment of the left’s imagination,” the newspaper added.

“Taxes paid by millionaire households more than doubled to $274 billion in 2006 from $136 billion in 2003. No president has ever plied more money from the rich than George W. Bush did with his 2003 tax cuts.”

Overheated

“On Thursday, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivered a major address calling on his country to abandon all fossil fuels within 10 years,” Lorne Gunter writes in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper.

“By 2018, U.S. electricity and fuel should come entirely from ‘renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources,’ he said. Tickets to the event encouraged attendees to ‘please use public transit, bicycling or other climate-friendly means’ to reach the lecture hall,” Mr. Gunter said.

“So how did Mr. Gore and his retinue arrive? In two Lincoln Town Cars and a full-sized SUV that sat idling with the air conditioners blasting while the Gore party was inside.

“It was 34 C in Washington. Al Gore can’t be expected to get into an overheated vehicle after he’s worked up a sweat telling others how to save the planet. …

“Apparently if the world is ever to reach the carbon-free future Mr. Gore dreams of, it will have to get there without Al’s help.”

Stuck in past

“A Barack Obama presidency could end the Iraq war, transform our national energy policy, revive America’s standing in the world — but please don’t expect the first black man in the Oval Office to move us above and beyond the civil rights era. At least that’s what Obama himself suggested [July 14] in his speech to the NAACP,” Gregory Rodriguez writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“In a campaign fueled by high expectations, Obama seemed to be trying to lower his audience’s hopes that the election of the first black president would be anything more than a symbolic milestone,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

“‘Just electing me president doesn’t mean our work is over,’ he told civil rights activists.

“A day earlier, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond drove home the same point but with just a little bit more gusto. Obama’s candidacy, he assured the audience, does not ‘herald a post-civil rights America, any more than his victory in November will mean that race as an issue has been vanquished in America.’

“Given the, um, audacity of hope, it’s more than a little noteworthy that Obama and his supporters are suddenly pushing realism. Are they objectively wrong when they say an Obama victory won’t end the struggle for racial equality? Certainly not. But downplaying the symbolism and real-life racial significance of an Obama presidency ignores the fact that it would ultimately challenge the nation’s civil rights establishment, and its policies and rhetoric, which routinely question the fundamental fairness of American society.”

Church Q&A

Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama will participate next month in a question-and-answer forum at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., Pastor Rick Warren said Monday.

Mr. Warren, who oversees the 22,000-member congregation, will question the presidential candidates on Aug. 16 during the church’s Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion, the Associated Press reports.

Joshua DuBois, Mr. Obama’s director of religious affairs, said the senator was “looking forward to going back to Saddleback with his good friend Pastor Rick Warren.” Mr. Obama spoke at Saddleback in 2006.

Mr. Warren said the candidates didn’t want a debate format but rather the two-hour forum. The candidates are expected to appear together briefly before each takes questions from Mr. Warren for about an hour. A coin toss determined that Mr. Obama will go first.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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