From the Hardball College Tour, October 12, 2000:
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Since I've been studying politics, I've had this question that I've never fully understand. Why is it that someone like my father, who goes to school for 13 years, gets penalized in a huge tax bracket because he's a doctor? Why is that -- why does he have to pay higher taxes than everybody else, just because he makes more money? Why -- how is that fair?
MATTHEWS: You mean...
MCCAIN: I think your question -- questioning the fundamentals of a progressive tax system where people who make more money pay more in taxes than a flat, across-the-board percentage. I think it's to some degree because we feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford more. We have over the years, beginning with John F. Kennedy, reduced some of those marginal tax rates to make them less onerous.
But I believe that when you really look at the tax code today, the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don't pay nearly as much as you think they do when you just look at the percentages. And I think middle-income Americans, working Americans, when the account and payroll taxes, sales taxes, mortgage pay -- all of the taxes that working Americans pay, I think they -- you would think that they also deserve significant relief, in my view...
MATTHEWS: How many -- how many people here believe that the people who made the highest level of incomes in this country should pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes?
Miss, do you want to follow up? Miss, do you want to follow up, do you want to follow up, do you want to follow up? Go ahead.
MCCAIN: Do you want to follow up? Please...
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, please, go ahead.
MCCAIN: ... you were dissatisfied with Chris's comment, I could tell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still don't see how the -- how that's fair. Isn't the definition of slavery basically where you work and all your money goes? I'm not saying this is slavery, I'm saying that isn't the defin -- are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff, when you have -- you have some people paying 60 percent overall in a year of their money to taxes. That's their money, not the government's. How is that fair? I haven't understood it.
MCCAIN: Could I point out, one of the fundamentals of a town hall
meeting is, we respect the views of others, and let them speak. So,
look, here's what I really believe, that when you are -- reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more. But at the same time, that shouldn't be totally out of proportion. There's some countries such as Sweden where it doesn't pay anything to work more than six months a year. That's probably the
But I think the debate in this country is more about tax cuts rather than anything else. And frankly, I think the first people who deserve a tax cut are working Americans with children that need to educate their children, and they're the ones that I would support tax cuts for first.
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