As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

McCain's Economic Adventure

OK, I'm sick of talking about this debate, so let me talk about John McCain. It turns out, and this is going to shock you, that he's more interested in corporate balance sheets than working families.

Sen. John McCain yesterday offered sweeping rhetoric about the economic plight of working-class Americans, promising immediate assistance even as he spelled out a tax and spending agenda whose benefits are aimed squarely at spurring corporate growth [...]

In yesterday's speech, McCain played to his maverick image, taking corporate chieftains to task for their "extravagant salaries and severance deals." He even called out by name Angelo R. Mozilo, the chief executive of imploding mortgage giant Countrywide, and James E. Cayne, former chief executive of Bear Stearns, which was bailed out by an emergency line of credit from the Federal Reserve Board.

"In my administration, there will be no more subsidies for special pleaders, no more corporate welfare," McCain said.

But much of what he detailed was a corporate special pleader's dream: a cut in the corporate income tax rate, from 35 percent to 25 percent, a proposal to allow businesses to write off the cost of new equipment and technology from their taxes, a ban on Internet and new cellphone taxes, and a permanent tax credit for research and development.

The only tax that really does anything for a non-CEO, the gas tax holiday, is deeply irresponsible and would eliminate practically every construction job in America since gas taxes finance road improvements.

Then he got into real trouble with this remark:

In so many ways, we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties. For Republicans, it starts with reclaiming our good name as the party of spending restraint. Somewhere along the way, too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats they used to oppose. The only power of government that could stop them was the power of veto, and it was rarely used.

If that authority is entrusted to me, I will use the veto as needed, and as the Founders intended. I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks. I will seek a constitutionally valid line-item veto to end the practice once and for all. I will lead across-the-board reforms in the federal tax code, removing myriad corporate tax loopholes that are costly, unfair, and inconsistent with a free-market economy.

Sounds like his usual focus on relatively tiny expenditures like earmarks instead of actual wasteful expenditures like Cold War-era weapons systems. But there's a catch - one of the earmarks that McCain's experts (well, not his experts, he shuffles it off to the Congressional Research Service) identify as an earmark is aid to Israel.


Here's where a progressive Middle East group like J Street will be helpful, because the very mention of cutting aid to Israel, whose economy is in better shape than ours, yields gasps out of all proportion. But cutting them off completely in the name of fighting earmarks shows how stupid the focus on the technical designation of how a bill gets appropriated truly is. And it's going to get McCain in trouble, just like mentioning any popular program that you schedule for cutting will get a politician in trouble. Republicans always say that government is wasteful, but never mention the wasteful programs, because... they're shameless liars, basically.

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