July 29, 2008

On the Stump – Payroll Tax Increase Still on Table — McCain Rebuked for Social Security Stand

WASHINGTON - Republican presidential candidate John McCain drew a sharp rebuke Monday from conservatives after he signaled an openness to a higher payroll tax for Social Security, contrary to previous vows not to raise taxes of any kind.

Speaking with reporters on his campaign bus July 9, he cited a need to shore up Social Security, saying: "I cannot tell you what I would do, except to put everything on the table."

He went a step farther Sunday with his response on a nationally televised talk show to a question about payroll tax increases.

"There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions, and I'll articulate them. But nothing's off the table," McCain said. "I don't want tax increases. But that doesn't mean that anything is off the table."

That comment drew a strong response Monday from the Club for Growth, a Washington anti-tax group. McCain's comments, the group said in a letter to the Arizona senator, are "shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances."

McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have said Social Security's funding formula needs to be changed to ensure the program's long-term viability. Obama has called for imposing a new payroll tax on incomes above $250,000. Currently, only incomes up to $102,000 are subject to the 12.4 percent payroll tax, which employers and employees split evenly.

McCain gets routine skin test

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - John McCain said Monday he had had a small patch of skin removed from his face and biopsied as part of a regular checkup with his dermatologist.

"She said that I was doing fine," McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor, told reporters . "She took a small little nick from my cheek, as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure everything is fine."

McCain sported a small bandage on his upper-right cheek on his campaign plane but had removed it by the time he spoke with reporters. A small dark spot stood out on his face.

McCain urged people to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen, particularly during the summer.

"If you ever have any slight discoloration please go to your dermatologist or your doctor and get it checked out as soon as possible," he said.

McCain pushes oil drilling

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - John McCain said Monday that drilling for oil off the U.S. coast is an essential part of any plan to lower gas prices and reduce dependence on foreign sources, and he criticized Democrat Barack Obama for opposing it.

"We all know that a comprehensive solution is wind, tide, solar - all the other things all of us believe in," McCain told reporters after touring San Joaquin Facilities Management, an oil company in the California desert that yields 1,100 barrels a day. "In the meantime, as we develop all of these alternate sources of energy, it will be vital that we continue oil production at a high level, including offshore drilling."

McCain called Obama the "Dr. No" of energy. But McCain once was, too.

Just last month, McCain reversed himself after years of opposition and called for lifting the federal ban on oil drilling off the U.S. coast. The Arizona senator promotes energy development as a way to boost the economy, and a recent poll found many voters open to offshore drilling as a way to ease gas prices.

McCain also insisted the technology exists to bring oil produced offshore quickly to market, even as the federal government has estimated it would take years for new offshore oil exploration to yield results.

McCain was in California to attend fundraisers, including two Monday night in San Francisco.

Obama to attend event in Hawaii

HONOLULU - Barack Obama plans to travel to his native Hawaii for a fundraiser Aug. 12.

The Democrat's presidential campaign confirmed the visit but did not say how long he will be in the islands. The trip is the first time since Obama announced he was running that he visited Hawaii, where his maternal grandmother lives. Obama was born in Honolulu.

Obama has said he intends to take a weeklong vacation before the Democratic National Convention in Denver in late August.

Tickets to the fundraiser at Kahala Resort will cost $2,300 per person. Those contributing more than $10,000 may attend a private reception with the Illinois senator.

Originally published by From Our Press Services .

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