Considering McCain

I’m an incorrigible optimist. It suddenly appears to me that we have unusually large number of candidates who are, if not perfect, fairly worthy for this stage of the political game.

And not just on the Republican side, either. Agree with her or not, Hillary Clinton is worth serious consideration. Obama, although his resume is short, is attracting money for a reason. He is an attractive candidate at this point. Edwards, despite a Jack Kemp-esque performance on the campaign trail in ’06, is a much more seasoned campaigner now, and will be a factor.
And despite some in-fighting, the Republicans have three strong contenders in Giuliani, McCain and Fred (not Tommy) Thompson, all of whom have good things to commend them, and some serious short comings (all three seem to see abortion as the new third rail of politics).

And this leaves out Al Gore, who is no Washington lightweight, and Dennis Kucinich, who is (at least as far as presidential contenders go). It’s a long list. And if history is any indicator, the eventual nominees are not in that list. (Fortunately, history is not an indicator).

So I’ve been working on a list of issues that I think are important, and trying to identify each candidate’s position on these issues. Usually, a given candidate’s position is indistinguishable from the party-line. That’s to be expected. So when a candidate deviates from the party line, it’s notable.

One of my issues is taxes, especially the burden they place on small business, not in money, but in time and effort (and hence, in money, too). For years I’ve been ranting about taxes along these lines: “Taxes work very efficiently, exactly as intended. Oh, they’re no longer intended to raise revenue for the country. The purpose of taxes, as far as Congress is concerned, is to reward Congress’s friends and punish it’s enemies. And they do that well.” My friends have heard me use this line (too) many times.

So imagine my surprise today, to read:

The tax code gets plenty of grief from conservatives and libertarians. Its extensive series of penalties and benefits comes from the efforts of Congress to mold the income tax into a weapon for politicians to use against opponents and on behalf of allies. Instead of a simple system where every taxpayer can pay the government a rational portion of one’s earnings, the current system is so complex that all but the most unburdened taxpayer has to pay for outside help, personal or technological, to comply with the law.

in The Captain’s Quarters, where he quotes The NY Sun:

In a major economic policy speech today, Senator McCain will pledge to fix what he calls an “incomprehensible” and “Byzantine” federal tax code, casting himself as the candidate who will fight for changes that others have failed to achieve.

If he’s serious, if he continues to press this issue though 2008, and if he speaks as clearly on the issues of the Global War on Terror, Illegal Immigration and abortion, Sen. McCain will distinguish himself from the crowd.

Update: In an odd coincidence, Sean at Cosmic Variance points out that John Edwards also has a tax simplification plan. He (Sean) also takes me (um… Republicans) to task for not wanting taxes to be painless. He then proceeds to praise the makers of anti-freeze for making their drink sweet “for the children”.

Son-of-a-gun, my sarcasm button is stuck, again.

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