- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2008

With two weeks left until Election Day, Sen. John McCain and conservative leaders have a last-ditch warning for the nation’s mostly moderate voters: Beware the coming remorse if Sen. Barack Obama and Democrats are given complete control of Washington.

The underdog presidential candidate and Republican lawmakers say Democrats are setting a course to redistribute wealth and steer the country further toward socialism than its present lurch leftward to intervene in the banking industry.

“You will see the greatest wave of socialism that has taken place in my lifetime - and I’m 51,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “The philosophy of ‘spread the wealth’ instead of ‘create the wealth’ would permeate every part of government.”

They say Mr. Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, are eager to expand government’s role by:

• Completely reworking the tax code with as much as $3.5 trillion in new taxes.

• Pushing a $200 billion economic stimulus package that doles out cash to middle- and low-income workers and includes New Deal-style public works projects to put more laborers on the government payroll.

• Aiming for universal health care coverage by requiring employers to share the costs of insuring workers and by offering coverage similar to that in plans for federal employees. It relies on raising taxes on wealthier families to pay the cost.

“Barack Obama is yelling from the rooftops that he’s gong to raise your taxes if you make more than $250,000,” said Ryan Ellis, director of tax policy at the Republican-allied Americans for Tax Reform. “If he goes in there and raises taxes and expands government permanently, and there is not an effective Republican response, then we could be in trouble.”

He stressed that two-thirds of American small-business profits are earned in households making more than $250,000 a year. Most of them pay taxes at the household level, likely resulting in a small-business tax rate of as much as 54.9 percent under Mr. Obama’s plan - the highest since the Carter administration.

The Obama campaign says its tax plan builds the economy from the bottom up with tax relief and rebates for 95 percent of Americans. By shifting the tax burden to wealthy families, they say, the net tax cut would reduce taxes as a share of the economy to 18.2 percent - below the average level under President Reagan.

“Obama’s plan provides three times more tax relief for middle-class families than the McCain campaign and cuts taxes for small businesses and businesses creating new jobs here in the United States,” Obama campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro said. “This election is a clear choice between Barack Obama and the change middle-class families need or John McCain and just more of the same failed Bush economic policies.”

Mr. Obama, whose lead narrowed to 4.8 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls on Monday, is keeping his campaign focused on the economic woes that further soured voters on the Bush administration and helped solidify the Democrat’s advantage.

“The economic crisis we face is the worst since the Great Depression,” Mr. Obama said Sunday at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., where he rattled off a litany of bad news, including 760,000 jobs lost this year, wages dropping to the lowest level in a decade and a tightening credit market.

“It’s getting harder and harder to make the mortgage or fill up your gas tank or even keep the electricity on at the end of the month,” Mr. Obama said. “At this rate, the question isn’t just ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ it’s ‘Are you better off than you were four weeks ago?’ ”

However, Mr. McCain thinks he has found a way to turn the economic issue against Mr. Obama, warning that the Democrat’s socialist remedy is in fact economic poison.

The attacks on Mr. Obama have intensified since he told Joe Wurzelbacher, an Ohio plumber worried about paying higher taxes under the Democrat’s plan, that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Economic advisers to the McCain campaign called the tax plan a “Europeanization” of the nation’s system, arguing that it would sap productivity and cost jobs.

Mr. McCain said voters finally heard the truth about his rival’s socialist agenda.

“He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans,” he said Monday at a campaign stop in St. Charles, Mo. “Senator Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than in growing the pie.”

Voters’ opinions of Mr. Obama’s “spread the wealth” comment appear to split along party and class lines, with most Democrats and most people making less than $40,000 a year agreeing with Mr. Obama’s goal, a Rasmussen Reports survey showed.

But the survey also showed that the exchange with “Joe the Plumber” helped the McCain campaign, with about 48 percent of voters saying Mr. McCain or Mr. Wurzelbacher better understand their economic situation than does Mr. Obama. Fifty percent of coveted independent voters agreed, compared with 38 percent who said Mr. Obama better understands their situation.

The Obama campaign says its health care plan stakes out the middle ground between the extremes of a government-run system and a free-market approach that lets insurance companies run amok.

The plan would require insurance companies to cover most Americans regardless of health, give tax credits to small businesses that contribute to employee health plans and raise taxes on companies that don’t, give tax credits to workers who can’t afford insurance premiums, and establish a new government health insurance provider.

“The Obama plan would give the federal government even more control of health care dollars and decisions - a radical departure from the decentralized decision-making system that characterizes employer-based insurance and state-based insurance regulation,” a Heritage Foundation report determined.

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