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.
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.