Biden says McCain’s economic answers go nowhere

Published 11:25 am Friday, September 19, 2008

CANTON (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday called Republican John McCain’s answers to the current economic crisis ‘‘the ultimate bridge to nowhere’’ and said paying higher taxes would be patriotic for wealthier Americans.

Biden said the GOP presidential nominee was out of touch with average people’s problems, comments designed to resonate with voters in economically troubled northeast Ohio and keep pressure on McCain during a week of bad news from U.S. markets and financial institutions.

Biden’s two-day bus trip in the region included stops in areas devastated by thousands of job losses in manufacturing and the auto industry. With the economy a top concern in Ohio, polls were tight in this essential swing state.

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‘‘John McCain’s answers for the economy — and we’re in such desperate shape — is the ultimate bridge to nowhere,’’ Biden told an audience of 2,500 on a turf field outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The reference to the infamous Alaska project dubbed ‘‘the Bridge to Nowhere’’ was a dig at McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who supported building the bridge until Congress moved to kill it as an example of wasteful spending. She has since claimed she stopped the project — a nearly $400 million structure designed to link a southeastern Alaska town to its airport on a nearby island — and told Congress ‘‘thanks, but no thanks’’ when, in fact, the state diverted the money to other projects.

In an interview on ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America,’’ Biden said wealthier taxpayers would indeed pay more under the proposals of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Under his plan, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less — the vast majority of taxpayers — would receive a tax cut.

‘‘We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people,’’ Biden said. Of those who would pay more, he said: ‘‘It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.’’

McCain misstated Biden’s remark when he told supporters at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that Biden had said ‘‘raising taxes is patriotic.’’

‘‘Raising taxes in a tough economy isn’t patriotic. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s just plain dumb,’’ McCain said. ‘‘The billions in tax increases that Sen. Obama is proposing would kill even more jobs during tough economic times. I’m not going to let that happen.’’

Biden responded during remarks to about 150 people at a Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 894 in Akron.

‘‘Tell me how everybody is better off? The point I want to make is, and I mean this sincerely, wealthy people are just as patriotic as poor people. We just have not asked anything of them,’’ Biden said.

Although McCain claims Obama would raise taxes, the independent Tax Policy Center and other groups conclude that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposals.

Biden ended the Ohio bus tour with a rally Thursday night in downtown Youngstown. He spoke to about 1,200 people from a small outdoor stage facing aging buildings, some with boarded up windows.

‘‘This country deserves more than a brave soldier. It needs a wise leader,’’ Biden said. ‘‘John is profoundly out of touch, profoundly out of touch with where the American people are.’’