DNC - McCain Myth Buster: John McCain and Louisiana's Farmers

Washington, DC-- While in Louisiana today John McCain will no doubt say he would fight for the people of Louisiana as president, but a look at his votes shows Senator McCain has consistently tried to gut a vital part of the state's economy: the sugar industry. McCain has made ending sugar subsidies a central promise of his presidential campaign and in the Senate has introduced amendments to end the government's sugar program. [Washington Times, 4/17/07; The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 7/21/00; Palm Beach Post, 7/21/00; Times Picayune, 8/5/99]

Senator McCain's talk on sugar is a sign that McCain just doesn't understand the economic situation in the state. After seven years of a president who has ignored the Gulf Coast, Louisianans don't want four more years of inaction with John McCain.

McCain Ripped Into Sugar Subsidies During His First Economic Speech Of The 2008 Campaign. During McCain's "first major economic speech since announcing his run for the presidency," "McCain ticked off the most egregious violations of pork-barrel spending as he ripped the Democrats' attempt to lard the emergency war-spending bill still deadlocked in Congress. 'They took the lid off the pork barrel and said to wavering members 'help yourself, there's plenty more where that came from.' They gave $7 million to research water quality on pig farms in Missouri, $24 million to sugar-beet farmers, $74 million for peanut storage, $95 million to dairy producers and nearly $400 million for highway projects, two years after we passed a $244 billion highway bill,' he said." [Washington Times, 4/17/07]

McCain Wanted To End Sugar Subsidies. Asked, "The federal government spent a record $ 22.7 billion last year in direct payments to farmers. Is Washington spending too much money on farm subsidies?," McCain responded, "'Yes. The 1996 Farm Act was intended to decouple farmers from bureaucratic crop controls and implement groundbreaking, cost-effective reform. Instead, the bill catered to special interests and did little to reform the system. . . I believe we need fiscally responsible reform of our farm policies to provide assistance to farmers who truly need it and promote efficient, free-market policies. We must end inequitable special-interest subsidies, such as sugar, peanut and ethanol industries, that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year, and help farmers manage risk as cost-effectively as possible." [Dayton Daily News (Ohio), 3/7/00]

McCain Attempted To "Kill All Funding" For The Federal Sugar Support Program. The Advocate reported, "Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, asked the Senate to kill all funding for the [federal sugar support] program. The Senate tabled McCain's amendment, by a vote of 62-35, which in effect kills it. McCain said the government program is a subsidy for rich corporate farmers and drives up the price of sugar for U.S. consumers." The Palm Beach reported that McCain's amendment "would have ended federal subsidies for sugar farmers in Florida and 15 other states" and that Florida sugar growers argued "that preserving the program is essential to keeping sugar farmers from failing." [The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 7/21/00; Palm Beach Post, 7/21/00]

McCain Assaulted Sugar, Attempting To "Uproot" Government Support For Sugar Farmers. "Senators from sugar-producing states, including Louisiana, on Wednesday beat back another in a series of efforts to uproot the government system of price supports for sugar farmers. The assault this time came in the form of an amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who called for a one-year suspension of the federal government's sugar program. His amendment was defeated 66-33, a margin only slightly more lopsided than a similar vote in the Senate two years ago….The program offers annual, low-interest loans to sugar farmers and sets strict import quotas. McCain and other opponents claim the program amounts to a generous subsidy for a small group of politically connected 'sugar barons' in South Florida and artificially keeps prices high." [Times Picayune, 8/5/99]

After casting himself as a "Maverick" in 2000, the new John McCain is walking in lockstep with President Bush, pandering to the right wing of the Republican Party, and embracing the ideology he once denounced. On the campaign trail McCain has callously abandoned many of his previously held positions, even contradicted himself, in a blatant attempt to remake himself into a candidate Republicans can accept in 2008. So just who is the real John McCain? The Democratic National Committee will present a daily fact aimed at exposing the man behind the myth.