9/26 Presidential Debate 2008: McCain Gaffes May Have Lost Debate. Will It Happen Again?

In this segment we respond to comments from Senator McCain in this debate that are direct quotes from the transcript. We feel McCain avoided many questions, provided weak answers to some and made out and out mistakes on some others.  Here are the quotes and our responses. All quotes are taken directly from the transcript.

Don’t miss our debate with Obama as well, it demonstrates how Obama could improve for his next debate.

When asked about our current fiscal crisis, McCain responded,

1. “…have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We’re talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in — certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while.”

In general, this was a very weak response Senator. The rest of the response involving requiring transparency, etc. did not define the true magnitude of the problem,  its cause or its solution other than consuming 700 billion dollars to buy troubled securities, which we already knew.

2. “Somehow we’ve lost that accountability. I’ve been heavily criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We’ve got to start also holding people accountable, and we’ve got to reward people who succeed. But somehow in Washington today — and I’m afraid on Wall Street — greed is rewarded, excess is rewarded, and corruption — or certainly failure to carry out our responsibility is rewarded.”

That is way too broad of a stroke Senator. There were specific people responsible for this disaster. Alan Greenspan was one of them. It wasn’t “Corporate America” that made the mortgage mess. It was created by artificially low interest rates and investment houses taking on risk they likely shouldn’t have. But they only make up the banks and investment houses like Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch and mortgage companies like American Lending Association. That is not “Wall Street”. They were public companies, but Wall Street consists of thousands of great companies not even remotely involved in mortgages, so please stop making that correlation, it is offensive to Americans.

3. “And Main Street is paying a penalty for the excesses and greed in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street.”

Washington we understand, the banking system we understand, but you are stretching it big time blaming it on Wall Street as a whole. It is deferring responsibility. Our Fed screwed up. Admit it and move on.

4. “We Republicans came to power to change government, and government changed us. And the — the worst symptom on this disease is what my friend, Tom Coburn, calls earmarking as a gateway drug, because it’s a gateway. It’s a gateway to out-of-control spending and corruption.”

If anything loses this debate for you Senator, it is this statement. It sounds clever, but it condemns your party. It does not share responsibility for the growth in government with a Senate and House controlled by the Democrats. Government as a whole overspent and grew too much, both sides, not just yours. Get your act together Senator, what you say has implications.

5. “I suggest that people go up on the Web site of Citizens Against Government Waste, and they’ll look at those projects.”

We will do that Senator. We recommend all Americans that are going to vote do just that.

6. “Right now, the United States of American business pays the second-highest business taxes in the world, 35 percent. Ireland pays 11 percent. Now, if you’re a business person, and you can locate any place in the world, then, obviously, if you go to the country where it’s 11 percent tax versus 35 percent, you’re going to be able to create jobs, increase your business, make more investment…”

You completely missed an opportunity here and left an opening for Obama. The issue here is that because of this high tax rate, many companies are basing themselves outside the United States. Tax incentives are huge in other nations trying to draw corporations to situate within those borders. Our tax system on corporations is so repressive that many of them just pack up and leave.

We also think you should agree with Obama on the issue of removing tax breaks for companies that do situate themselves outside the US. Having your central office in Bermuda or Panama should not reduce your tax burden for profits made in the United States. If you want to keep a business person from locating elsewhere, you can’t give them US tax breaks for doing so.

7. “And so, again, look at the record, particularly the energy bill. But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year. And that’s just a fact. Again, you can look it up.”

Senator, if you are going to make such a claim, you should have the specifics. Obama was able to easily deny this claim. When you say for folks to go “look it up” you are using a childish debate tactic that just proves you didn’t do your homework. If this statement is true, you should have had the name of the bill, the date it was signed and proof of Obama’s support. This was a major gaffe.

8. “I think that we have to return — particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations — we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.We tried to build a little ship called the Littoral Combat Ship that was supposed to cost $140 million, ended up costing $400 million, and we still haven’t done it. So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control. I know how to do that.”

One major problem is “year-ends”. By creating budgets based on a fiscal year, you are making businesses run like a person with a cell phone contract that loses their minutes each month. The companies know they have a limited time to spend the money and as the year-end approaches, they spend it with total disregard for cost. This “use it or lose it” philosophy has wasted more taxpayer money than any other policy. Fixed cost contracts are interesting, but is that realistic with the current complexity of government projects? The US government is not the only one with budget over runs. Massachusetts “Big Dig” went over their initial estimates by 500% and leaked when finished! The cost of such large projects is incredibly difficult to estimate.

9. When asked about how to approach the fiscal crisis, one suggestion McCain made was “How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.”

We like brevity Senator, but this left the stage wide open for Obama. It also sounds like it would threaten a huge number of jobs. You seem to forget that a vast number of people work on government programs. A spending freeze would be an abrupt action that could result in a huge loss of jobs in America.

10. “And Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Obama did vote against funds for the troops, but you both did on bills that did not favor your overall strategies. Bringing this up without providing the complete story gave you less credibility when Obama responded.

11. “And I’d like to remind you, also, as a result of those recommendations, we’ve probably had the largest reorganization of government since we established the Defense Department. And I think that those men and women in those agencies are doing a great job.”

Was this part of the huge growth in government you speak of negatively? How expensive was this reorganization and how much of the 40% growth in government you cite was related to it?

NOTE IF YOU HAVE YOUR OWN RESPONSES TO DEBATE MCCAIN COMMENTS IN THE DEBATE, PLEASE MAKE A COMMENT AND WE WILL TRY TO INCLUDE THEM IN OUR ARTICLE.

9/26 Obama vs. McCain, Presidential Debate 1, Summary and Analysis, Stop Blaming Corporate America

We are carefully rummaging through the debate at this time and have so far come to the conclusion that little was said in the first round that was all that interesting.  With further analysis, we may be proven wrong, and there could be key items we are missing, so we will try carefully to glean the important points as we watch more closely.

It appears to us that both candidates in this debate spoke of the central problem (which is the economy) with hyperbole and promises rather than practical solutions and explanations.  Neither man gave us the warm feeling in this presentation that they knew how to pay for their programs or tax cuts or how to exactly target our problems.  Obama said he did, but he still didn’t say how other than to say he is going to close loopholes and tax people that make over $250,000.  John didn’t say at all but at least has an energy plan that could work which, if effective, could reverse the trade deficit over time.

We are broke guys.  We have no money.  We cannot promise things to Americans we don’t have.  Got it?

Get America on board!!  Stop pandering to us.  We want a program that treats America as though it were a business.  A responsible business certainly, that cares about its employees and benefits those that work for it.  McCain did speak of rewarding those that perform and holding those accountable that do not.

Overall, we, America, want to make a profit.  Got it?  No more deficits.  No more tax cuts. No more short term solutions that make you look good but that cost billions of dollars we do not have.

Make it freakin’ work again.  Make what work?  America.  Americans will come to the rescue for that kind of plan.  One they can understand.  Make a plan that makes the United States a “profitable” nation so we can build our own Dubai on chump change!!!

Get off the pulpit for a minute and think.  Think like the CEO’s Obama criticizes without giving any thought about all the absolutely phenomenal CEOs that have made this nation great!!  Lee Iacocca, Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, the list goes on and on.  These men either are paid well or were, but they are greats and people to remember for their accomplishments and legacy.  McCain and Obama have made the critical mistake of making the C in CEO stand for criminal.  But every entrepreneur, like Bill Gates or Henry Ford in his garage, has the potential in the US of becoming great.  And there are many fewer criminal CEO’s like Ron Skates of Data General, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and Executives of Enron than there are greats and heroes.  The bad seeds exist, but corporate America is huge, and for every low life thief, there are thousands of hard working dreamers and achievers that made their lives and companies into something great.  Blaming every CEO for the wayward few is like blaming our Sun in the billions of stars in the Milky Way for being warm and contributing to Intergalactic warming!

There appears to be a scapegoat game going on, in an attempt to place the culpability at corporate America’s feet for our problems!!  You say you care about middle class America, but there are many aspiring businessmen in the middle class that hope to grow their business and hope to some day make it to Wall Street as a legitimate public company.  Do they want to benefit from their work?  Yes, of course they do!!  Wouldn’t anyone?

Corporate America (Wall Street) is not the criminal; it is a stupid concept.  Don’t many of us, if not most of us, work for public companies?  We are Wall Street?  Main Street is Wall Street or at least they have a major intersection where they flow into each other.  Get it?

Given the latest requirements for oversight on companies, including “Sarbanes Oxley“, many small companies are going bankrupt, and leading companies like Open Pages, Inc, have grown at an astronomical rate, benefiting from demand for software that provides the automation for tracking accountability and corporate controls.  How can two men say how bad governance is, when the fact is that these laws, in come cases, are so stringent, they have placed some small companies out of business due to the expense of the accounting alone, and others have had to severely delay financial reports due to new laws regarding how they report? (See Broadcom, Marvel Communications, etc.).

We are not saying that better governance and regulations won’t help.  We are saying that it tends to fall the hardest on companies that are new and trying to thrive in today’s economy.  So, while Senator  Obama thinks that imposing more regulation is a good thing to protect America, in turn, he has to think about the impact of Sarbanes Oxley on a huge number of small companies that, like so many, are on the brink of success or failure.  Many failed as a result of the cost of more stringent regulation, so you could be damaging the very middle class you claim to be supporting.

Corporate America and its CEOs in general are heroes.  They are men that made it in the battle to forge a successful business.  Some are rogue, but it is not the balance.   Someone has to realize and stand up and ask, if you put Corporate America and its CEO’s out of business by treating them all as criminals, who picks up the slack?  Because they, gentlemen, are making the bulk of the private sector jobs, not you.

Right now, stop your NIMBY policies and the corporate hatred.  Make heroes out of US corporations and honor those that have been successful.  Then they will have an incentive to help us build a better America.  If you continue to chastise them and alienate them, they will continue to seek a way out of the US into other more favorable environments.

Your problems are huge, but Corporate America did not cause it.  Alan Greenspan with his bubble causing interest rates caused this problem combined with a short sighted dependency on foreign oil.  American policies of indefinite spending and deficits caused this problem.  Allowing ourselves to depend on other nations for our primary needs caused this problem.  No more blaming our best achievers in America.  No more making promises that cost billions while we wallow in debt.  No more denying that we consume vastly more resources than we generate, when we need to generate more and consume less.

We cannot consume 24% of the world’s oil and generate a small fraction of that and hope to survive economically.  We have enough resources here to provide all our needs, but we need to take the less ideal path for the short term to deliver the ideal path for the long term.  Energy independence is required as quickly as possible any way we can achieve it, followed by a nation that strives for ecological gains.  We cannot afford the reverse; it will surely put us in the poorhouse.

– 0 –

We will be back for more after a closer review of the debate content…

Full Schedule of the debates here.