In an interview with Larry King that aired last night, John McCain admitted that he doesn't think Barack Obama is a socialist, which runs counter to most of his campaign rhetoric for the past week. The admission is reminiscent of when McCain, after days of hammering Obama about a supposedly sexist remark, finally conceded that Obama probably wasn't calling Sarah Palin a pig when referencing "lipstick on a pig" at a campaign speech. Video below, with transcript:
Transcript, via CNN:
KING: You don't believe Barack Obama is a socialist, do you?
MCCAIN: No. But, I do believe -- I do believe that he's been in the far left of American politics. He has stated time after time that he believes in "spreading the wealth around." He's talked about courts that would redistribute the wealth.
He has a record of voting against tax cuts and for tax increases. And I don't think there's any doubt that he would increase spending and he would, sooner or later, we would be increasing taxes. There is no doubt in my mind that that's what his record -- 94 times he voted to cut taxes -- against tax cuts and for tax increases. He voted for -- and that's what matters. Not rhetoric. To raise taxes on individuals making $42,000 a year.
KING: Concerning spreading the wealth, isn't the graduated income tax spreading the wealth? If you and I paid more so that Jimmy can get some for him, or pay for a welfare recipient, that's spreading the wealth.
MCCAIN: Well, that's spreading the wealth in the respect that we do have a graduated income tax. That's a far cry from taking from one group of Americans and giving to another. I mean, that's dramatically different.
Sen. Obama clearly has talked about for years, redistributive policies. And that's not the way we create wealth in America. That's not the way we grow our economy. That's not the way we create jobs.
And when small business people see that half of their income, half of the income of small businesses is going to be taxed by Sen, Obama, then they're very upset with it.
KING: He says, it's only the personal income tax. If you run a store, if you make $250,000 or more, as a personal income, not a business income, that's where he's (INAUDIBLE).
MCCAIN: And that's where his folks just reduced it to $200,000. And then Sen. Biden yesterday said $150,000. And the fact is that if Joe the Plumber is able to buy the business that he works in, the guy that he buys it from is going to see an increase in capital gains taxes. They're going to see an increase in payroll taxes. They're going to see -- if he reaches a certain level, an increase in his income taxes. And that's what got people concerned. That's what's got Joe the Plumber upset. He wants to redistribute the money.
KING: Doesn't taxes pay for services?
MCCAIN: Taxes pay for services.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) taxes.
MCCAIN: But, do we want -- taxes pay to keep our government secure. To help those who can't help themselves. And other functions of government, which, by the way, expanded by some 40 percent in the last eight years and gave us a $10 trillion debt --
KING: Under Bush.
MCCAIN: And to the last two years, under Democrat majorities in the House and Senate.
But, that's the job of government. But it is not the job of government that I believe in, that would take a group of Americans who have some money and say, we're taking your money, and we're giving it to others. This 95 percent tax cut he's talking about for 95 percent of Americans -- 40 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So he is just going to give them some money. Where is he going to get it? He is increasing taxes for other groups of Americans. That's his plan.
KING: What are you going to do?
MCCAIN: I'm going to keep taxes low. I'm going to ...
KING: Where they are?
MCCAIN: Sure. Absolutely
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