When asked by Rich Warren last night how he would "define rich," McCain did his very best to avoid the question and instead started rambling about the DNA of bears and Congress' vacation time. Although he said "$5 million" jokingly, it's pretty clear he didn't want to offend the fat cat base of the Republican Party. This is pretty ironic coming from a man that once bashed the Bush tax cuts as disproportionately skewed towards the wealthy. Maverick no more, indeed.
“Some of the richest people I’ve ever known in my life are the most unhappy. I think that rich is — should be defined by a home, a good job and education and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited. I don’t want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich. I don’t believe in class warfare or redistribution of the wealth. But I can tell you for example there are small businessmen and women who are working 16 hours a day, seven days a week that some people would classify as, quote, ‘rich,’ my friends, who want to raise their taxes and raise their payroll taxes. Let’s have — keep taxes low. Let’s give every family in America a $7,000 tax credit for every child they have. Let’s give them a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go out and get the health insurance of their choice. Let’s not have the government take over the health care system in America.
“So I think if you’re just talking about income, how about $5 million. But seriously, I don’t think you can — I don’t think, seriously that — the point is that I’m trying to make here seriously — and I’m sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is — the point is — the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues. And my friend, it was not taxes that mattered in America in the last several years. It was spending. Spending got completely out of control. We spent money in a way that mortgaged our kids futures. My friends, we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Now I don’t know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but the point is — but the point is it was $3 million of your money. It was your money.
“And you know, we laugh about it, but we cry and we should cry because the Congress is supposed to be careful stewards of your tax dollars. so what did they just do in the middle of an energy crisis when in California we are paying $4 a gallon for gas, went on vacation for five weeks. I guarantee you, two things they never miss, a pay raise and a vacation. And we should stop that and call them back and not raise your taxes. We should not and cannot raise taxes in tough economic times. So it doesn’t matter really what my definition of rich is because I don’t want to raise anybody’s taxes.”
John Amato: I thought McCain was pretty good Saturday night except in some crucial areas which I discussed here. Most of the media said McCain was just magnificent last night. He hit a HR. I guess they forgot about this answer. What the heck was McCain talking about?
Steve Benen has more.