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John Petro

Not Spreading the Wealth, but Raising the Floor

"We're gonna take Joe's money, give it to Senator Obama, and let him spread the wealth around. I want Joe the Plumber to spread that wealth around." - John McCain, on Barack Obama’s tax plan.

Spread the wealth around. It has become the McCain campaign's new battle cry, supplemented with shouts of "Socialism" directed at his opponent, Senator Obama. Mr. McCain's tactic is striking a chord with republican-leaning voters.

“Jessica Turntine, 24, a registered nurse, said McCain's approach made sense to her. ‘I do not want to spread the wealth," she said after the rally. "I want to keep my money.’”

Never mind that unless Ms. Turtine makes significantly more than the average nurse, Mr. Obama will allow her to keep more of her money than Mr. McCain would. This statement represents the individualistic streak in the American psyche, the one rooted in Jeffersonian ideals and still espoused by Sarah Palin and her “small-town America” rhetoric.

I’ve met many people that share these ideals. They usually feel that if people would only work harder, they wouldn’t be in poverty. If someone would have been more responsible, they wouldn’t be in such trouble with credit card debt.

In reality, middle class families are finding it harder and harder to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. Families are working more for less money. At the same time, expenses are increasing – housing, transportation, food, and healthcare.

For those deciding on who to vote for, they should consider which candidate will make sure that working families aren’t just treading water, but are able to actually get ahead, to save money, and to build wealth. Mr. McCain has offered his solution: to cut taxes for the wealthy and to cut government spending. Mr. Obama's tax policy would lift the income floor so that everyone can reach the first rung on the economic ladder.

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Posted at 8:50 AM, Oct 22, 2008 in Economic Opportunity | Election 2008
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