Sunday, April 20, 2008

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget

McCain: Cutting taxes more important than balanced budget

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
46 minutes ago

Republican John McCain said Sunday that cutting taxes and stimulating the economy are more important than balancing the budget, and accused both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of supporting tax hikes that would worsen the impact of a recession.

"The goal right now is to get the economy going again," the GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting said on ABC's "This Week," adding that he would put the country "on a path to a balanced budget" by attacking wasteful spending.

McCain conceded it was probably a mistake to seek and accept the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee, who has referred to the Roman Catholic Church as "the great whore" and called it a "false cult system."

The Arizona senator said he had condemned Hagee's remarks about Catholics, and said it was different than the way Obama has responded to questions about his own relationship with William Ayers, a 1960s-era radical who in an interview published on Sept. 11, 2001, said he didn't regret bombing government buildings.

"How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people?" McCain asked, calling Ayers an "unrepentant terrorist."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, in response, said McCain had "stooped to the same smear politics and low road that he denounced in 2000" by commenting on Ayers.

McCain appeared on the talk show as the Democratic National Committee announced it would begin running an ad Tuesday on national cable networks tweaking McCain on the economy. The ad, released to reporters Sunday, shows McCain saying the country overall is "better off" than it was eight years ago, and ends by asking viewers, "Do you feel better off?"

The Republican National Committee said the ad is misleading.

Responding Sunday, McCain brushed off Democratic assertions that he is out of touch on the economy and reiterated a pledge to cut taxes even if it means running up deficits. Turning the tables on Clinton and Obama, he said they are the misguided ones for proposing tax increases during a recession.

Both Clinton and Obama support higher taxes for people earning more than $200,000 a year. Obama also has said he wants a capital gains tax higher than the current 15 percent.

"They are out of touch when they want to raise taxes at the worst possible time when we're in a recession," said McCain, who has been under constant criticism from Democrats for saying the economy isn't his best subject.

McCain said he has a solid economic plan, centered on extending Bush administration tax cuts he once opposed. Clinton and Obama would reverse those tax cuts.

Blaming federal spending for the economic troubles, McCain pledged to "scrub every agency of government" of wasteful expenditures and close loopholes.

"Is there any American that doesn't believe that there's tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars that can be saved?" he said. "Americans know that. That's why they're fed up."

McCain also said he would not hold off on tax cuts if Congress didn't approve his spending cuts and declined to make a pledge to balance the budget by the end of his first term in office. "When economies are rough, then you've got to reduce the tax burden on people," McCain said.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Danica Patrick makes IndyCar history by winning Japan 300

Danica Patrick makes IndyCar history by winning Japan 300

By JIM ARMSTRONG, AP Sports Writer
43 minutes ago

Danica Patrick became the first female winner in IndyCar history Sunday, taking the Indy Japan 300 after the top contenders were forced to pit for fuel in the final laps.

Patrick finished 5.8594 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Helio Castroneves on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval after leader Scott Dixon pitted with five laps left and Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan came in a lap later.

"It's a long time coming. Finally," Patrick said. "It was a fuel strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me. I knew I was on the same strategy as Helio and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn't believe it. This is fabulous."

The 26-year-old Patrick won in her 50th career IndyCar start, taking the lead from Castroneves on the 198th lap in the 200-lap race.

"I think Danica is such a fantastic person and I'm thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back," said Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing. "We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many."

Dixon took the lead from Castroneves on the 93rd lap in the race pushed back to Sunday because of wet track conditions Saturday, but gave up the spot to pit for fuel.

"We led for a lot of laps but came up short," Dixon said. "But congratulations to Danica for her first victory."

Patrick, who started from the third row and made her final pit stop on lap 148, stayed close to the leaders throughout the race.

Patrick went from fourth to second place on lap 197 after Wheldon and Kanaan went into the pit on lap 196. She was as low as eighth place on the 189th lap.

"I knew there was a good reason for coming to Japan," Patrick said. "I want to thank my team, the fans and everyone who supported me."

Dixon was third, 10.0559 seconds behind Patrick. Wheldon was fourth, and Kanaan finished fifth.

Castroneves, awarded the pole position after qualifying was rained out Friday, said Patrick ran a great race.

"With five laps to go, I was saving fuel," Castroneves said. "When Danica passed me, I realized she was the leader. She did a great job, passed me fair and square and that shows you how competitive our series is."

Patrick finished a career-best seventh in the season standings last year, and was second in the race at Detroit's Belle Isle.

At the 2005 Indy 500, she nearly won the pole and became the first female driver to lead the race en route to a fourth-place finish. It was the best finish by a woman at Indy, and helped her take rookie of the year honors.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.