McCain Recycles Bush's Economic Policies


10-28-08, 10:38 am

John McCain's desperation took a few big rhetorical leaps this week as he tried to portray himself as just another anti-Bush candidate. McCain spoke in Cleveland, which has been especially victimized by 30 years of Reagan-Bush policies, from the de-industrialization, job loss, anti-public sector cutbacks. There, McCain claimed that both he and Barack Obama 'disagreed' with George W. Bush, but while Obama thought that 'taxes were too low,' he thought that 'spending was too high.'

Spending for what? Public sector jobs programs that would raise the income of Cleveland's citizens along with the citizens of other industrial and 'former' industrial cities? Spending for interest payments on a federal debt that has increased from $1 trillion to over $10 trillion in the last 28 years. (It should be mentioned that Clinton, with all of his other flaws, was the only president in that time period who really did get the deficit under control). Spending on for the military which has increase nearly five times in that period and is today nearly double what in 1991 with the dismemberment of the Soviet Union?

McCain didn't say. Instead he said that 'I have been through tough times like this before, and the American people can trust me, based on my record and results, to take strong action to end this crisis, restore jobs, and bring security to Americans. I will never be the one who sits on the sidelines and waits for the economy to get better.'

McCain's 'economic plan' is almost beside the point. All one can say is that it has two parts, neither of which are especially in the interest of working families, and both of which are unshockingly identical to Bush's economic polices. First, he has proposed to further bail out banks by buying up bad mortgage paper at face value. How this will be done and paid for are unclear. The devil 'is in the details,' the fine print, which predatory politicians like McCain are no more willing to discuss than the predatory mortgage lenders. Second, he has proposed 'incentives' to get people to save more and more tax cuts for large corporations. It's classic Bush.

McCain shouldn't be taken seriously in any way. He has never been through tough economic times like this. He was born into a distinguished naval officer family and had all the benefits and welfare state security that the military brings. He has no record of producing real results on much of anything during his years in Congress, except one of fighting with both friends and foes, endless grandstanding as a foe of pork barrel politics, meaningless legislation to deal with campaign financing, and that is it.

McCain, over the decades, has more or less followed the Republican politicians who have gotten 'results' in Congress over the last generation, 'results' that have been disastrous for the American people and the people of the world.

The truth is that McCain doesn't understand what a modern military leader is, much less the head of a government. He has never shown the capacity to delegate authority, take advice, learn, go beyond his overweening personal ambition and the resentments which have always followed from his failure to achieve the military and later political prizes that he wanted. Now he has the 'least valuable' Republican political nomination since 1964, a nomination that he has further devalued by his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Instead of posturing as if he knows something about the economy, McCain might have a joint TV appearance with Palin and replay a scene of Richard Nixon's 1952 'Checkers speech,' drop the military toughness image and portray himself as a 'hard working' middle-class man who will fight for 'America' and the 'middle class' against the 'crooks' on Wall Street and the 'Communists' aka 'socialists' aka 'Marxists' aka 'redistributors of wealth.' He might even point to Palin ala Nixon and refer to her 'good Republican cloth coat' – minus $149,775 in wardrobe expenditures. Palin might then mention a little cocker spaniel she saved from a Polar Bear whom liberals were trying to put on the endangered species list and together they would try to ride a wave of anti-Wall Street, anti-Communist/Socialist and anti-Polar Bear hysteria in to the White House. Who knows? It is, given the level of McCain's arguments, as likely to work for him as anything else.

--Norman Markowitz is a contributing editor of Political Affairs.