By David Lightman and William Douglas
ST. CHARLES, Mo. — “Make no mistake,” Republican activist John Hancock told a John McCain rally in this St. Louis suburb, “this campaign is a referendum on socialism.”
Republicans have been pounding that theme in recent days, even though Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama doesn’t fit the definition of a socialist.
Critics point to Obama’s plan to raise the top two tax rates on the wealthy as clear evidence of his socialist bent. However, Len Burman, the director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, said that while Obama “would make the tax system more progressive overall, it would not be a radical shift.”
Favoring higher tax rates for the wealthy than for the less fortunate isn’t socialism, and if it is, then the U.S. has been a socialist country for nearly a century, under both Democrats and Republicans.
Key Bush administration tax cuts are due to expire on Jan. 1, 2011. Obama wants to end breaks for most individuals who earn more than $200,000 and for families that make more than $250,000; McCain does not. Obama’s position would restore the top rates to what they were under President Clinton, when the economy boomed.
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