McCain ad portrays Obama as tax-and-spend liberal

With the focus of the campaign shifting, for now, to the economy, McCain falls back on some old Republican arguments.

Published September 18, 2008 2:34PM (EDT)

As the election battle progresses, John McCain's campaign is increasingly dipping into the well of familiar Republican strategies and messages. Over the last couple of weeks, it was the culture war. This week, with the country's economic woes worsening by the day, the discussion has shifted, and the McCain camp has moved on to a new message that still comes straight out of the past.

In an ad released Thursday, the McCain camp falls back on the old "tax-and-spend liberal" argument. "Obama and his liberal congressional allies want a massive government, billions in spending increases, wasteful pork," the ad's narrator says. "And we would pay -- painful income taxes, skyrocketing taxes on life savings, electricity and home heating oil. Can your family afford that?"

As you might guess at this point, the ad is less than fully truthful. Barack Obama's plan, independent experts say, would amount to a net tax cut. The Tax Policy Center has found that his plan would "produce a tax cut for 81.3 percent of all households, and a cut for 95.5 percent of all households with children." And, of course, at this point we all know that Republicans don't have much room to talk about billions in spending increases.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder had a pretty good take on the spot. "It's not clear what the level of government intervention that McCain is proposing is all that different than what Sen. Obama is proposing," he wrote. "These conventional Republican economic talking points don't wear well to more practiced ears, but the McCain campaign has a reason for putting them into an ad: a large majority of Americans rate their personal economic situation as fair-to-good."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.