Minor Differences?

The Associated Press fact-checks Barack Obama’s claim, in his speech today, that John McCain’s economic policies don’t differ significantly from President Bush’s, and actually does a pretty good job. The AP notes a number of important areas where McCain’s economic proposals are very different from Bush’s. Personally, I favor Bush’s approach in some instances and McCain’s in others, but it is absurd to deny that many important differences exist.

The Obama campaign defended its claim by emphasizing the word “major:”

The Obama campaign says the key word of Obama’s statement is “major,” and the differences that McCain points to are minor details. …

The Obama campaign dismisses those differences as small and says McCain has the same central economic philosophy as Bush. McCain, for example, supports Bush’s tax cuts and his free-trade policies.

The Obama campaign’s response strikes me as unintentionally revealing in two ways. First, it shows what Obama considers to be his bedrock economic priorities: high taxes and renewed tariff barriers, the Hoover-Roosevelt blunders that needlessly deepened and prolonged the Great Depression.

Second, it shows how far from the mainstream Obama’s own economic policies are. By any normal reckoning, Bush’s and McCain’s economic policies are miles apart. They differ fundamentally on the administration’s $700 billion “rescue” package, on the proper size of the federal government, on corporate income taxes, on restricting the consumption of carbon, on health care policy, and in many other areas. Yet Obama considers these differences minor. There is indeed a perspective from which such disagreements are mere details. That is the far-left perspective of the New Party, of ACORN, of Bill Ayers and his comrades, of Jeremiah Wright, of Barack Obama in his Illinois State Senator days–the far-left perspective that considers the redistribution of wealth to be the first order of business in a new Obama administration.

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