'Socialism' and Political Rhetoric, Past and Present

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Barack Obama wants to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000 and use part of the money for tax credits on all workers, even those who don't earn enough to pay income tax. John McCain says that borders on "socialism" and crowds cheer. In 2001, McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts he now wants to extend, saying the benefits went the "the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans." But the progressive income tax has been redistributing income for almost 100 years. The Bush Administration, proudly conservative, is nationalizing banks; the auto and nuclear industries want guaranteed government loans. Meantime, Communist Russia and China are looking like free-marketeers. Does the word "socialism" still have the political force it did during the Cold War? Are McCain's charges likely to stick?




Warren Olney