All about ideas…

Critique of McCain’s campaign

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I’m one of those women that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are hoping to win over: a middle class white woman–one of those disaffected suburban Hillary supporters. I grew up in the Air Force. My dad was a hunter and taught me to shoot his rifle and shotgun when I was about 10. I enjoy fishing. I raised two daughters on my own. Starting working at age 16. Put myself through college while raising my daughters. Except for taking a year off to care of when my dad and stepmom were ill, before they died, I’ve worked and supported myself for over 30 years since college.

I’m no different, essentially, than all the other women out there who are wondering how to make ends meet, worrying about the future, and furious with the federal government over wasteful spending and partisan politics.

Nevertheless, when I heard Gov Palin and Sen. McCain at a rally in Ohio this morning, I got a bit peeved. I don’t care much for half truths and lies.

Cut property taxes in Wasilla – True, but residents of Wasilla say she raised sales taxes significantly.

Reformed lobbying – Partially true. Lobbying still exists in Alaska: her own inauguration was partially paid for by oil companies. She also hired a lobbyist to lobby Congress for more money, causing per capita the greatest amount of “pork barrel” spending in the country for Alaska.

Plan to veto “pork laden” spending – Sounds awfully good, but the President does not have line item veto authority. During the Clinton Admin, Congress passed a bill allowing the President line item veto, but the Supreme Court struck it down. No new line item veto bill has been written since.

Put tax savings back in the hands of Alaskans – Only partially true. The $1200 check each Alaskan received this year is a direct result of a windfall profit tax on the oil companies.

Reduce federal taxes – In actuality, McCain’s plan reduces taxes on wealthy and corporations while doing almost nothing for the middle class. Two salient points.

One, major economists, both here and abroad, state that the current supply-side economics (cut taxes on the wealthy and they will create jobs, etc) hasn’t worked. It’s been a fiscal disaster. Economists have stated that the monies expected to trickle down has not occurred. They’ve not been invested in a way that increases jobs. Just as an added note, wealthy individuals currently enjoy a lower tax rate than under Pres. Reagan.

Two, on reducing taxes for corporations, the US tax code does have one of the highest corporate tax rates. However, several hundred major corporations paid absolutely no taxes in ’07. If we’re going to reduce the corporate tax rate, then we need to close up the loopholes that allow corporations to pay no taxes whatsoever. Companies, while they enjoyed high profits, reinvested little of those profits in their companies. As a result, few new jobs.

Fixing health care – In actuality, McCain wants to eliminate health care as an employee benefit. He believes each person or family should buy it, rather than have the employer purchase it. (I, myself, heard him say this.) He said this will increase competition and reduce health care costs.

There’s just one flaw in his argument: health care costs are amortized over the number of subscribers. The more people signed up, the lower the costs for the pool of subscribers. A pool of one or an average family doesn’t provide a large enough pool for the health insurance company to amortize costs by spreading the risks amongst the pool. The result? Health care costs for individuals and families will increase significantly. And those people who are already considered “risks” may not be able to get health insurance at all…which probably will increase State taxes in order to pay health costs for the uninsured who cannot get insurance.

Keeping our country safe – This is almost worthy goal and as both a citizen and the daughter of a career Master Sargeant in the Air Force, I agree with this idea. However, I’ve read Sen. McCain’s foriegn policy paper in Foreign Affairs Magazine.

His plan is to increase the military greatly and have them stationed in more places. In addition, he wants to increase the responsibility of the military by creating a corp of special officers to engage in such activities as foreign affairs negotiations – a State Department function – and construction.

As an example of his foreign policy, he advocates throwing Russia out of the G8. The consequences of such an action would have far-reaching and major negative effects on our foreign policy. None of which would be beneficial to the U.S. and would only serve to heighten further Russia’s antagonism towards the US. In fact, we need Russia as a strategic partner, especially on issues like Iran, nuclear disarmament, preventing the spread of nuclear arms, and insuring a sufficient supply of Russian oil and gas to Europe. Instead of ostrasizing Russia, we need to build an even better and more productive relationship with both the Russian government and the Russian people.

But keeping our country safe also means keeping our country economically safe. This means investing in upgrading our infrastructure which, by the say, will produce millions of new jobs. Anyone who watched the Olympics saw China’s high speed railways and other major infrastructural improvements, all based on the latest technologies. Japan also has high speed railways.

Meanwhile, our infrastructure crumbles to dust. American and European economists, and foreign correspondents reporting on the U.S., remark on how old and out of shape our roads, bridges, and railways are…and how badly they are affecting our economy. Sen. McCain, to my knowledge, has not addressed this issue at all.

Reducing foreign oil dependence – But drilling for more oil will not solve our problem. We just don’t have enough oil rich places to drill to meet our demand. We need to invest seriously in R&D and deployment of green energy technologies.

Thomas Friedman wrote in his NY Times column on Sept. 2, “…Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries…” He further added, ‘Palin’s nomination for vice president and her desire to allow drilling in the Alaskan wilderness “reminded me of a lunch I had three and half years ago with one of the Russian trade attachés,” global trade consultant Edward Goldberg said to me. “After much wine, this gentleman told me that his country was very pleased that the Bush administration wanted to drill in the Alaskan wilderness. In his opinion, the amount of product one could actually derive from there was negligible in terms of needs. However, it signified that the Bush administration was not planning to do anything to create alternative energy, which of course would threaten the economic growth of Russia.” ‘

Improving eduction – Unfortunately, Sen. McCain’s ideas don’t go far enough. While his ideas are good, he has not addressed the high cost of college education. Tuition costs have far outpaced inflation these last eight years. Most students graduate with anywhere from $20,000 to $120,000 college debt. That kind of immediate debt seriously affects not only that new worker’s ability to pay for their debt but hurts the overall economy because all their resources go to pay their debt rather than their being able to engage in the overall economy. And many students who have the grades to enter college cannot attend at all because the costs are out of reach. A college education is rapidly becoming a privilege of the rich.

I’m not satisfied with the disparity between what is being said now, on the campaign trail, and previously recorded speeches and actions. I don’t think any woman who is concerned with her pocketbook and her children should be satisfied either. We have serious problems that need to be discussed honestly. Our ballooning national debt, our trade imbalance, a broken economy, health care costs that are strangling the American people and businesses, skyrocketing college education costs, crumbling infrastructure, and not enough jobs in manufacturing, technology, and [high paying] service industries.

As one financial affairs columnist put it recently, America is rapidly losing its position in the world economy, implying that the U.S. is growing closer to the economies of third world countries.

No, I’m not satisfied. I love my country and my family too much to approve of what has been going. I want better for my country, my family and myself.


Written by Valerie Curl

September 9, 2008 at 6:10 PM

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