By JAMES PRICHARD
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 24, 2007; 1:23 AM
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Republican John McCain says that if elected president, he would repeal the alternative minimum tax and keep government spending in check using vetoes and line-item-veto authority.
The Arizona senator said Monday the alternative minimum tax would affect as many as 30 million people by 2010. The tax originally was intended to make sure the wealthy do not exploit tax loopholes.
"I am committed to repealing this tax before millions of American families are forced to devote even more of their hard work to paying for the spending largesse in Washington," McCain said in a speech to several hundred members of The Economic Club of Southwest Michigan.
McCain said he would fight for line-item veto power, which the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional, but wouldn't hesitate to use the veto as it now exists to crack down on spending.
"Give me the pen, and I'll veto every single pork-barrel bill Congress sends me, and if they keep sending them to me, I'll use the bully pulpit to make the people who are wasting your money famous," he said.
McCain, long a crusader against so-called pork barrel spending, said Democrats who hold a narrow majority in Congress want to raise taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars by repealing President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
McCain originally opposed Bush's tax cuts, but he advocates extending them now because he says repealing them would amount to a tax increase.
"I believe we should keep income and investment taxes low by making the tax cuts currently on the books permanent," he said. "I think we should protect Americans from partisan Democrat tax increases by requiring a three-fifths majority vote. But if I am president, the same veto pen that works on pork-barrel spending will send those partisan taxes right back to the Congress."
Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party, chided McCain.
"McCain's top fundraiser (Tom Loeffler) and his new campaign manager (Rick Davis) are both lobbyists who made their fortunes lobbying for exactly the type of pork projects McCain is now railing against," Moon said. "This is exactly the type of hypocrisy that he brought to his do-anything-to-win campaign, the same tactics that drove the 'Straight Talk Express' straight into a ditch."
The Straight Talk Express is the name of McCain's presidential campaign bus from his unsuccessful 2000 bid for the White House. Rolled out earlier this year in an effort to help reinvigorate his current campaign, the bus has been parked again because of a lack of money that has also led to dozens of layoffs in his campaign.
Economic Club member and McCain supporter Pat Dwyer, 57, of St. Joseph, said he wanted to see how well the senator conveyed his message Monday.
"I think some people don't understand where he stands on some things," Dwyer said.
Associated Press Writer Libby Quaid in Washington contributed to this story.
On the Net:
McCain's campaign: http://www.johnmccain.com/