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
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