Cindy McCain’s ‘pri­vacy’ cha­rade

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Cindy McCain re­fuses to re­lease her tax re­turns. This is not just a ques­tion­able po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion that threat­ens to haunt her hus­band’s cam­paign for the next six months. It is also the wrong de­ci­sion. Mrs. McCain needs to change her mind and re­lease the re­turns as quickly as pos­si­ble. How Repub­li­can John McCain, the pre­sump­tive pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee who rightly fan­cies him­self the king of trans­parency on Capi­tol Hill, and his cam­paign strate­gists can per­mit this open sore to fes­ter is unimag­in­able.

As the chair­man of the An­heuser-Busch dis­trib­u­tor­ship Hensley & Co., which her fa­ther founded, Mrs. McCain is an heiress whose in­come and as­sets will di­rectly ben­e­fit from the tax poli­cies es­poused by her hus­band. Mr. McCain would also ben­e­fit. Tax­pay­ers and vot­ers are en­ti­tled to know how much th­ese ben­e­fits will be.

With a net worth es­ti­mated in the range of $100 mil­lion, Mrs. McCain would di­rectly ben­e­fit from her hus­band’s pledge to per­ma­nently ex­tend the top in­come-tax rate of 35 per­cent (which was low­ered from 39.6 per­cent in 2001), the top cap­i­tal gains tax rate of 15 per­cent (which was low­ered from 20 per­cent in 2003) and the top div­i­dend tax rate of 15 per­cent (which was low­ered from 38.6 per­cent in 2003). Mr. McCain op­posed those cuts in 2001 and 2003, but now wants to make them per­ma­nent. The McCains may also de­rive great ben­e­fit from his prom­ise to com- pletely elim­i­nate the in­di­vid­ual al­ter­na­tive min­i­mum tax. Un­til she re­leases her tax re­turns, vot­ers can­not know for cer­tain.

More­over, dur­ing a cru­cial pe­riod of the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion con­test — from last Au­gust (af­ter Mr. McCain’s cam­paign had col­lapsed fi­nan­cially) through Fe­bru­ary (when its re­mark­able po­lit­i­cal re­bound ef­fec­tively clinched the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion) — Mrs. McCain used ac­cou­trements of her wealth to keep her hus­band’s cam­paign lit­er­ally “in the air,” trav­el­ing from one cam­paign stop to an­other.

Many of those pho­tos you saw of Mr. McCain car­ry­ing his own lug­gage through air­ports dur­ing that seven-month pe­riod were snapped af­ter he dis­em­barked from the cor­po­rate jet owned by the com­pany headed by his wife. Ac­cord­ing to an ex­haus­tive anal­y­sis by the New York Times, Mr. McCain com­plied with fed­eral law re­gard­ing the use of the plane. But he un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally ex­ploited a mas­sive loophole that the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has been try­ing to close. That loophole al­lowed Mr. McCain to fly rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sively. The law, whose loophole specif­i­cally ex­empted air­craft owned by a can­di­date’s fam­ily or by a com­pany it con­trols, en­abled the cam­paign to use that jet as a char­ter plane while pay­ing much cheaper first-class fares and in­dulge in a sub­sidy.

Mrs. McCain needs to end the “pri­vacy” cha­rade and re­lease her tax re­turns.

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