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New Mexico Is a Microcosm

With the Democratic National Convention in full swing, it’s a good time to review one of the key economic policy differences between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.

Here’s is Senator McCain’s policy on raising taxes in a nutshell:

McCain sounded most like Kemp when he told me: “I want everyone to be rich. I worry about inequities. I think that corporate greed is hurting their image. But trying to enact some kind of legislation that would take money from the rich and give it to the poor, that’s just out of the question.”

And, here is Senator Obama’s policy on raising taxes in a nutshell:

Senator Obama would raise the top individual tax rate back to 39.6 percent, impose an additional 2 to 4 percent tax on earnings for some over the existing Social Security wage cap, and bring back the phase-out of the personal exemption and certain itemized deductions for higher-income taxpayers. When added up, the top effective marginal tax rate rises by 12 to 14 percentage points, from 37.9 percent to roughly 48 to 50 percent. “High” is in the eye of the beholder, but these are tax rates not seen since before the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

The bottomline is that Senator Obama wants to increase taxes, so that he can increase spending, which brings us to New Mexico. Any time anyone suggests that increasing government spending is the solution to curing poverty, you really need to take a look at the poverty statistics in our state (subscription).

About one in four New Mexico children lived in poverty in 2007, according to new data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Community Survey.

That number is up from previous estimates of a nearly 20 percent poverty level for New Mexicans under 18. National poverty estimates for 2007 are at about 18 percent for children, according to the Census Bureau.

Census Bureau spokesman Jerry O’Donnell said Tuesday that while poverty levels across the nation have leveled off in recent years, the numbers of children in poverty have been growing.

New Mexico had fewer than one in five —about 18 percent — of its total population living in poverty last year, while the United States remained level at about 12.5 percent.

Poverty levels differ based on family size, but a family of four in poverty would make less than $21,200 annually, according to federal guidelines.

The number of New Mexicans without health insurance also grew, according to data from a separate Census Bureau survey — the Current Population Survey — also released Tuesday.

About 22.5 percent of New Mexico’s population was uninsured last year, while 15.3 percent went uninsured across the nation, according to the Census Bureau.

Government spending has increased in New Mexico from $3.9 billion to over $6 billion in the last six years, and more children are living in poverty. Increased spending on government programs are not the answer to solving the poverty problem in America. It doesn’t work in New Mexico, and it won’t work nationally.