Washington, DC - From bad headlines to even worse reviews, John McCain's latest attempt to re-launch his campaign with a re-packaging of failed economic ideas has left voters and pundits wondering if his campaign is ready for primetime. On a conference call today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Niccole Blocker, a small business owner and single mother from Michigan, discussed how John McCain is out of touch with the economic challenges facing America's families every day and how he has continued to receive advice from Phil Gramm, his top economic adviser, who called Americans suffering from the failed Bush economy a "nation of whiners" just this week.
"Now we've lost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs since George Bush took office--with the Bush policies fully supported by John McCain," said Senator Stabenow. "And these 3.5 million people, over 300,000 of them in Michigan, are not hallucinating when they're not getting a paycheck. They're not hallucinating when they can't pay the mortgage, and too many of them are losing their homes, or put food on the table, or pay these outrageous gas prices. So it's an insult. And even though John McCain has now separated himself from this, the reality is that way back in January he said that this was psychological. This is not psychological, what's happening to middle-class families in this country…And John McCain does not understand that--he is totally out of touch with what's happening to people. As I said before, I close my eyes and hear him talk, and all I hear is George Bush. And frankly, in Michigan, we can't take four more years of this."
"From John McCain calling Social Security a disgrace and insisting on privatizing it, to announcing a balanced budget plan that was universally panned as fuzzy math to having his top economic adviser saying Americans' are 'whiners' and suffering from a 'mental recession' - John McCain has shown once again this week how much he fails to understand the challenges facing Americans today," said Brad Woodhouse of the Democratic National Committee. "This may go down as one of the worst weeks for a Presidential candidate on an issue that at the beginning of the week was supposed to be his theme for the week - and in this case was the issue around which he was supposed to be re-launching his floundering campaign. All told, this week may very well go down as John McCain's scanner moment."
"We're struggling, and we need help," said Blocker. "For Phil Gramm to insult us, to stand like he is above us, that we are imagining, that this is some type of mental recession, outraged us, outraged me. It hurts us that he is so out of touch with what we are going through. He has no idea that when you drive down a street, that every 3, 4, 5 houses are foreclosed with big orange signs on them. He has no idea that people are just trying to eat and feed their families. He has no idea that they're trying to get overtime when they're cutting back because they can't make it. He has no idea that gas prices are so high, we can't even afford to get to work. I can't believe that Senator McCain, he's one of his good friends and he puts him up on a pedestal and he talks in front of the world stating that he's well-respected and he knows what's going on when the two of them are no more but the same."
The audio of the conference call is available at the link below:
McCain's failed economic tour also led critics to suggest that McCain's campaign is "defensive," McCain is making "up his own facts," that he "sparks controversy", and one of his ads "gets nearly all its facts wrong."
Below are JUST A FEW of the low lights from Senator McCain's week on the economy:
Defensive McCain Campaign Emails Out Youtube Clip of McCain Bashing Own Economic Adviser. An ABC News reporter wrote, "This is how you know a campaign is having a bad day: when it feels the need to email out to reporters a Youtube clip of its own candidate bashing his own top economic adviser." [ABC News Blog, 7/10/08]
McCain Can't Just "Make Up His Own Facts" On Taxes. "The problem is that McCain's rhetoric on taxes often skirts the truth of the tax debate…some specifics of the McCain tax argument are also misleading...it makes sense that McCain is returning to the old playbook. But that doesn't mean he can just make up his own facts." [Time.com's Swampland Blog, 7/10/08]
Economists McCain Campaign Touted "Don't Actually Support the Whole of McCain's Economic Agenda." "In interviews with more than a dozen of the signatories, Politico found that, far from embracing McCain's economic plan, many economists were unfamiliar with--or downright opposed to--key details…There's just one problem. Upon closer inspection, it seems a good many of those economists don't actually support the whole of McCain's economic agenda. And at least one doesn't even support McCain for president." [Politico.com, 7/9/08]
McCain Balances Dueling Stances on Immigration. "Early in the Republican nominating contest, Sen. John McCain bucked his party's base with a moderate stance on immigration, offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. But in recent months, the presidential hopeful has put a greater emphasis on border security. The shift has helped him win over more anti-immigrant activists but muddied his reputation with Latino voters…In the general election, Sen. McCain appears to be trying to have it both ways. He emphasizes a need to secure the borders and to show compassion to illegal immigrants already here." [Wall Street Journal, 7/8/08]
McCain Sparks Controversy with Social Security 'Disgrace' Comments. "John McCain once said economics was not his strong suit. Well, today, Social Security became a problem for the presumptive Republican nominee, too. In remarks at a town hall meeting in Denver Monday, which are only now catching up to him, the presumptive Republican nominee laid out what he likes to call 'a little straight talk.' 'Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed,' he said." [Washington Post, 7/9/08]
Fact-checking McCain and the RNC. "But McCain has had a particularly rough go of it lately, especially from FactCheck.org. For the fourth time in a week, the Annenberg folks targeted McCain and the Republicans for their misleading rhetoric. Some other recent blurbs: -- 'A Spanish-language McCain radio ad gets nearly all its facts wrong.' -- 'The McCain campaign falsely claims that Obama voted to raise income taxes on individuals earning "as little as $32,000 per year.'" [Boston Globe, 7/9/08]
McCain: Social Security funding now a disgrace. "The system for funding Social Security is ''a disgrace' because it forces young workers to pay into a program that is unlikely to benefit them in its current form, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said this week, wading into politically touchy territory…In Denver, McCain offered no specific remedies, but said he would sit down with Democrats and Republicans to find them. 'I want to be president to do the hard things,' he said…" [Associated Press, 7/9/08]
Carly Fiorina's fuzzy McCain-speak. "Carly Fiorina is one of John McCain's chief surrogates, talking him up particularly to that key target group, women. But Fiorina, ousted as chief of Hewlett-Packard in 2005, is not above rounding the edges on straight talk." [Los Angeles Times, 7/10/08]
McCain Squirms on Birth Control Question. When a "reporter explained that McCain voted against a bill in 2003 that would have required health insurance companies to cover prescription birth control" and asked "'Is that still your position?;" McCain said ""I don't usually duck an issue, but I'm--I'll try to get back to you…" [Wall Street Journal, 7/10/08]
McCain Campaign Surrogate Plays "Fast and Loose With the Facts." "But now the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard has a new challenge: As a leader of Republican National Committee's 2008 "Victory" drive and a chief adviser to presidential candidate John McCain, she's being buffeted by intense criticism that, as a star campaign surrogate, she is playing fast and loose with the facts." [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/9/08]
A Spanish-language McCain radio ad gets nearly all its facts wrong. "McCain's new radio ad, in Spanish, aims to show Florida would benefit from the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which he supports. But every number in the ad is wrong, except one, a prediction of job gains taken from a group favoring the trade deal. And even that number is rounded upward so generously as to flunk third-grade arithmetic." [FactCheck.org, 7/8/08]
Lots to Look Into. "But one stands out as especially in need of the commission's urgent attention: the announced plan by the Republican Governors Association to raise large amounts of unregulated soft money in the name of Senator John McCain. Yes, the same Senator McCain who spent so many years fighting against soft money abuses… Other issues include whether Mr. McCain stretched the law and used his expectation of public financing as collateral for a bank loan to keep his primary campaign afloat." [New York Times Editorial, 7/7/08]
Skepticism on McCain Plan to Balance Budget by 2013. "The package of spending and tax cuts proposed by Senator John McCain is unlikely to achieve his goal of balancing the federal budget by 2013, economists and fiscal experts said Monday. 'It would be very difficult to achieve in the best of circumstances, and even more difficult under the policies that Senator McCain has proposed,' said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group." [New York Times, 7/8/08: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/us/politics/08budget.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1215518925-QuYWpPHGac28nR3Qprw1lg ]
Unclear How McCain Intends to Balanced Budget Pledge. "Mr. McCain has promised once again to balance the budget by the end of his first term in 2013, his advisers said Monday. They were reverting to an earlier pledge that Mr. McCain abandoned in April, when he proposed a series of costly tax cuts and, citing the ailing economy, said that it might take two terms to balance the budget… But it is unclear how Mr. McCain intends to balance the budget. Fiscal analysts who have examined Mr. McCain's plans say his calls to extend President Bush's tax cuts and cut corporate and other taxes without calling for comparable spending cuts could increase the federal budget deficit significantly." [New York Times, 7/8/08: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/us/politics/08econ.html ]
A flimsy vow on the budget. Sen. John McCain earned a reputation for fiscal responsibility by challenging colleagues' pork-barrel spending and opposing the Bush tax cuts in 2001. Then he reversed himself, endorsing the Bush tax cuts and vowing to veto any tax increases. Now, in a plan unveiled Monday, he has returned to the cause of balancing the federal budget, promising to do so by 2013...But he offers few practical specifics on how to bring the deficit from a projected $410 billion this year to zero by the end of his first term. [USA Today, 7/8/08, http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/07/a-flimsy-vow-on.html#more]
Gramm Remark Adds to McCain's Difficulty Addressing the Economy. But a day after a top McCain economic adviser dismissed the nation's struggles as a "mental recession," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's message landed with a thud, as workers sat in stony silence. McCain was already running into a stiff headwind because of an ailing economy, and his task only became tougher after former senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) suggested that the United States has "become a nation of whiners..." Since saying last winter that economic policy is not his strong suit -- a comment that won him a pummeling from his primary-election opponents -- McCain has struggled to show voters that he understands their pain as they grapple with six months of steadily declining payrolls, a shaky market on Wall Street, soaring energy and food costs, rising home foreclosures and stagnant economic growth. But his missteps on economic policy still threaten to drown out his message." [Washington Post, 7/11/08]