New McCain Ad Accuses Obama of Wanting to Impose New Taxes on Electricity

July 30, 2008

A new ad from Sen. John McCain is questioning whether Barack Obama is just a rock star, or whether he is ready to lead. But in the ad, McCain gets specific by accusing Obama of wanting to raise taxes on electricity. According to Newsday blogger John Riley, the source of this statement is based on a comment that Obama made to a newspaper in which he said “What We Ought To Tax Is Dirty Energy, Like Coal And, To A Lesser Extent, Natural Gas.”

While it is true that such a tax policy would amount to new taxes on electricity, what McCain does not tell you is that he supports what is essentially the same policy. McCain was one of the leading supporters of the Lieberman-Warner bill in the Senate, which was designed to combat climate change by implementing a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions (dirty energy) in the United States. And a cap-and-trade system that auctions off the permits (thereby charging companies for the right to emit pollution) is designed to achieve the same end as a tax on dirty energy (carbon), although the two can be administratively different. (If anything, a carbon tax is superior according to most economists, even though it has the word “tax” in it.) This is why my blog post here could not totally refute the claims made about Obama’s energy tax policy in an otherwise bogus e-mail about Obama’s tax policy.

So in summary, McCain is attacking Obama for wanting to raise taxes on electricity based on a quote in which Obama says we should tax “dirty energy,” yet McCain has promised that his policy as president would do virtually the same thing. His position on this issue has actually upset many conservatives.

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