- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Breaking ranks

Sen. Barack Obama has had trouble with some of his campaign advisers who have taken positions that were at variance with his own. Now, his chief economic strategist appears to disagree with him on corporate taxes, reports Donald Lambro of The Washington Times.

Mr. Obama is firmly opposed to Sen. John McCain’s proposal to cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent and reiterated that position earlier this month in Raleigh, N.C.: “You can vote for John McCain, and see a continuation of Bush economic policies more tax cuts to the wealthy, more corporate tax breaks.”

But Brookings Institution economist Jason Furman, who advises Mr. Obama, says the business tax needs fixing because rates are too high. “America’s system of taxing business and capital income is broken. It is complicated, economically inefficient and is proving increasingly incapable of raising the revenues it should,” he wrote in an op-ed article last October.

“The United States has the second highest corporate tax rate” of the industrialized nations of the world, he said. “It is notable that both the Republican president and the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee [Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York] now agree in principle that corporate rates should be reduced,” Mr. Furman wrote.


“It’s common to see mentions in the press these days about some ‘swiftboating’ of Barack Obama that is allegedly in the works, or might someday allegedly be in the works, or might someday be thought to be allegedly in the works,” Byron York writes in a blog at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“While I’m sure there will be some hit jobs on Obama this is a presidential campaign, after all this talk seems to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding, perhaps willful in some cases, of the swiftboat episode in the 2004 campaign,” Mr. York says.

“The swiftboat veterans in that year were the officers who served alongside John Kerry in Vietnam. They had first-hand knowledge of Kerry’s service, and they had a story to tell about Kerry’s behavior in Vietnam and his later antiwar activities at home. Based on 35-year-old memories, some of their claims were accurate, and some weren’t. But the point is, these men were in a specific position to know about a specific time in Kerry’s life. It was entirely proper that their criticisms be aired.

“Later, some of the swiftboat veterans criticized Kerry on other issues, but who cared? They had no more standing to speak about Kerry’s position on, say, Social Security, than anyone else. But as far as Vietnam was concerned they were there.

“Today, there is a tendency to describe any criticism of Barack Obama as ‘swiftboating.’ So far, it’s been a pretty effective attack pre-emption device. But it has nothing to do with ‘swiftboating’; you can’t just ‘swiftboat’ somebody. Now, if all of the pastors who worked with Obama when he was a community organizer in Chicago came together to criticize his behavior back then, that would qualify. But until something like that happens, could everyone at least those not working for the Obama campaign or the DNC dispense with the ‘swiftboating’ talk?”

Toeing the line

“As an empty threat, it ranks right up there with ‘Eat your spinach now or your mother and I won’t pay for college’ or even George W. Bush’s taunting promise to get Osama bin Laden ‘dead or alive.’ During the post-primary news lull, ardent Hillary Clinton supporters have managed to linger in the spotlight with their over-hyped warnings that they intend to sit on their hands or even bolt to John McCain if they are not wooed and won over by Barack Obama,” Walter Shapiro writes at salon.com.

“Now that the Obama campaign has announced that the Democratic victor and his vanquished foe will campaign together on Friday, brace yourself for the frenzied over-analysis of every sound bite of banter, every muscle twitch of body language during the Barack-and-Hillary show. The dominant story line and you can almost see the newspaper headlines and the crawl running across the bottom of TV screens is guaranteed to be (envision the furrowed brows of the on-air pundits): Was the joint appearance enough to win over the hardcore Hillary holdouts?

“The answer is an obvious ‘yes’ unless Obama starts channeling his inner Rush Limbaugh by ranting about ‘feminazis.’ Despite the efforts of Clinton activists like clothing entrepreneur Susie Tompkins Buell to highlight feminist grievances with the nomination process, the truth is that the Clintonites really have no alternative but to toe the party line.”

Still stalling

“If we didn’t know better, we’d say Senate Democrats were trying to kneecap their own beloved campaign finance laws,” the Wall Street Journal said yesterday in an editorial.

“Late last week, on the cusp of finally confirming a slate of nominees to the Federal Election Commission, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hit the stall button again. He really does want to make the FEC functional again, he averred. But Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold needs a couple more days to interview a nominee.

“How convenient. The magic day for Democratic foot-dragging is [Tuesday], when they will receive a new tool to bludgeon John McCain. That’s when the Democratic National Committee will be able to proceed with a lawsuit filed this spring to prevent Mr. McCain from opting out of the public financing system in the primaries. Federal Judge John Bates ruled in May that the DNC was required to wait 120 days after complaining to the FEC before filing suit,” the newspaper said.

“The 120 days will now expire on Tuesday without the FEC quorum that would allow it to rule on Mr. McCain’s financing issue. That means more unflattering publicity for the Republican. The complaint surrounds Mr. McCain’s use of his eligibility for federal matching funds as collateral for a bank loan. Mr. McCain later opted out of that system and its spending limits in the primary season, and Democrats will now call him a hypocrite.

“All of this comes after Barack Obama opted out of the public financing system for the general election while calling the system ‘broken.’ He’ll now be able to greatly outspend Mr. McCain in the fall, while the Republican will have to defend himself from charges that he spent too much in the primaries. Thus is Mr. McCain rewarded for having so dutifully taken the liberal line on campaign-finance reform.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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