Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Read All About It! Teddy Roosevelt Supports Socialist Policy (According to McCain)

Theodore Roosevelt
Is McCain insinuating that Teddy Roosevelt was a Socialist? And is McCain a Socialist too?

If McCain thinks that progressive tax policies are socialist then he thinks his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, was a socialist. Teddy Roosevelt supported a progressive tax policy as well as a high inheritance tax.

The McCain campaign has been hinting or outright calling Obama's progressive tax plan "socialist". A progressive tax policy is, simply stated: if you make more you pay more, specifically a greater percentage of your income. Obama endorses a progressive tax. So does McCain. We have a progressive tax policy now. The difference? McCain wouldn't tax the higher brackets quite as much as Obama but McCain would still tax them more than lower brackets. So to be clear, McCain also supports a progressive tax plan, just not as "progressive" as Obama.
Here's a simplified version of our tax brackets now:
Here's how the candidates differ:
So, for example, under McCain's plan the higher tax brackets would pay a lesser percentage than under Obama's. But, under both plans the higher tax brackets would pay a greater percentage of their income than the lower brackets. Again, this is a simplification and not taking into account tax loopholes that, generally, are taken advantage of by the top brackets.

So, both candidates' tax plans are progressive, just to varying degrees. Does that mean McCain's tax plan is also socialist, just not quite as much as Obama's? Answer: no, neither is socialist under a strict definition of socialism. Socialism refers to "a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society."

Nothing regarding tax policy, in and of itself, concerns, "state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." As an aside, I would also add "services" to that definition. Now, that is not to say that taxes cannot be used for socialist policies like, well uh, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, police, hospitals, fire departments and subsidies of any kind, to name just a few current "socialist" policies. And a universal health care policy would absolutely be socialist. What is also socialist is the bailout that both candidates voted for, granting the federal government the right to buy stakes in banks. Those stakes in banks are "collective ownership" by taxpayers. Now that's socialist, and both voted for it. The fact of the matter is that since the New Deal we have been and are living in a mixed economy. It's just that no one likes to talk about it or admit it.