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[Via Jake Tapper]

John McCain now calls Barack Obama a "socialist". Back in 2000, long before McCain gave up his honor for ambition, he defended middle class tax cuts against charges of "socialism".

Here's the transcript from October 12, 2000 on the Hardball College Tour:

STUDENT: 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. How is that fair?

MCCAIN: I think you're questioning, 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. I believe that when you really look at the tax code the very wealthy because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes really don't pay as much as you think they do, when you just look at the percentages. And I think middle income Americans, working Americans, who when you count in payroll taxes, sales taxes, mortgage -- all of the, all of the taxes that working Americans pay -- I think you would also think that they also deserve very significant relief.

...

STUDENT: I still don't see how that's fair...aren't we getting closer and closer to Socialism and stuff...?

MCCAIN: Look, here's what I really believe: That when you are, when you reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more. But at the same time it shouldn't be totally out of proportion.

McCain added that the "first people who deserve a tax cut are working Americans...and they're the ones I would support tax cuts for first."

Now, John McCain and Sarah Palin are mocking what McCain once defended as "socialism". McCain is now on his "Joe The Plumber" tour arguing against the very thing he believed in more honorable times.

The press needs to ask John McCain how he squares his current position with his earlier beliefs. Someone should ask John McCain whether he used to be a "socialist".

Originally posted to Mash on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 09:00 PM PDT.

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