DNC - McCain Watch: Senator McCain Wrong on Issues Important to Hispanics and Veterans

Washington, DC -- Today John McCain will speak to Hispanic veterans at the American GI Forum's 60th National Conference in Denver. McCain's remarks come on the heels of a new Pew poll that shows him lagging far behind Obama among Hispanics. McCain trails Senator Obama by a margin of 43 points, 66 to 23 percent, among Hispanic voters. McCain is a full 18 points behind President Bush's level of support among Hispanic voters in 2004.

McCain also faces problems on veterans' issues. Just this week, he suggested he would be willing to ration veterans' access to VA health care to "concentrate our efforts to handle those wounds and disabilities that are directly the result of combat." He has voted against veterans' health care needs 29 times -- including one vote just two days after the US invaded Iraq -- and resisted efforts to pass a 21st Century GI Bill that he thought was "too generous" to the brave men and women who signed up to serve in our armed forces after September 11.

Hispanic Americans have been particularly hard-hit by Bush-McCain economic policies. Since 2001, Hispanic median income has declined by more than $1,000. In June 2008, the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 7.7 percent while the unemployment rate among non-Hispanics was 5.5 percent. McCain's answer to those challenges: voting with President Bush 95 percent of the time and promising four more years of the same failed and flawed policies.


McCain: "We Need To Concentrate Our Efforts To Handle Those Wounds And Disabilities That Are Directly The Result Of Combat."
During a town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire, McCain spoke about healthcare for veterans and said, "So here's my idea, and it's not originated with me, but I've consulted with so many … others who are here. Look, we need to concentrate our efforts to handle those wounds and those disabilities that are directly the result of combat. We need to expand our ability to treat PTSD. PTSD is going to be tough in this war, you know that. And we need to treat the combat wounds. We need to increase that ability to do so." [CNN Live Feed, Town Hall (Rochester, NH), 7/22/08]

McCain Has Voted 29 Times Against Veterans' Health Care Needs.
[HR 4939, Vote #111, 5/4/06][HR 4939, Vote #98, 4/26/06][SCR 83, Vote #70, 3/16/06][SCR 83, Vote #67, 3/16/06][SCR 83, Vote #63, 3/16/06][SCR 83, Vote #41, 3/14/06][HR 4297, Vote #15, 2/13/06][HR 4297, Vote #7, 2/2/06][S 2020, Vote #343, 11/17/05][HR 2863, Vote #251, 10/5/05][HR 2528, Vote #242, 9/22/05][HR 2361, Vote # 165, 6/29/05; HR 2361, Vote # 166, 6/29/05; HR 2361, Vote # 168, 6/29/05][HR 1268, Vote #90, 4/12/05][HR 1268, Vote #89, 4/12/05][SCR 95, Vote #40, 3/10/04][S 1689, Vote #379, 10/14/03][SCR 23, Vote #81, 3/25/03][S 2168, Vote #185, 7/7/98][S 936, Vote #168, 7/10/97][HR 3666, Vote #276, 9/5/96][HR 3666, Vote # 275, 9/5/96][HR 2099, Vote #466, 9/27/95[HR 4624, Vote #256, 8/4/94][HR 1335, Vote #97, 4/1/93][S 2884, Vote #226, 8/4/90][HR 2519, Vote #132, 7/17/91]
  • McCain Voted Against Increasing Funding For Veterans Programs By $1 Billion. In 2003, McCain voted against increasing spending on veterans' programs by approximately $1 billion and putting the same amount toward deficit reduction. The amount would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts. The amendment failed 49-51. [SCR 23, Vote #74, 3/21/03]


Bush and McCain Opposed GI Bill, Then Tried to Take Credit.
"The Bush administration, and Sen. John McCain for that matter, initially opposed passage of the legislation, which was supported overwhelmingly by both Democrats and Republicans…McCain, campaigning last week, used language suggesting he supported the bill. In fact, McCain did not even cast a vote on the final measure. For Bush and McCain to try to claim credit now for a bipartisan effort they both opposed is a plain attempt to hoodwink the American voter." [Las Vegas Sun , 7/3/08]

McCain Refused to Endorse Webb's GI Education Bill. "Yet the former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW makes himself a target by refusing to endorse Webb's new GI education bill and instead signing on to a Republican alternative that focuses more on career soldiers than on the great majority who leave after their first four years." [Politico, 4/30/08]

Webb's GI Bill The Top Legislative Priority For Veterans Groups. According to The Hill, "Webb's bill is the top legislative priority for several veterans' groups, including the nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Its projected cost to the federal treasury is about $4 billion per year.Webb has argued his bill is necessary because the current GI bill cannot pay for today's cost of higher education. [The Hill, 4/22/08]

Current GI Benefit Woefully Inadequate to Meet Educational Needs of GIs
. "The most a veteran can receive now is approximately $9,600 per year for four years. Those who served combat tours with the National Guard or Reserves are eligible for even less -- typically just $440 per month, or $5,280 a year. By contrast, the College Board reports that the average four-year public college costs more than $65,000, or about $16,250 a year, for an in-state student. A private university costs on average about $133,000 for four years." [The Hill, 4/22/08]


June 2008: Unemployment Rate for Hispanics Nearly 8% and On the Rise.
In June of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Hispanics in the United States was 7.7% up from 5.7% just a year prior in March of 2007. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, 7/3/2008; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, 7/6/2007]

  • January 2001: 6% of Hispanics Unemployed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in January 2001, the unemployment rate among Hispanics in the United States was 6%. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, 2/2/2001]

Hispanic Americans' Income Has Declined After Rising In The 1990s. The median income for Hispanic households has declined from $38,834 in 2000 to $37,781 in 2006. Yet from 1990 to 2000, Hispanic median household income rose from $33,394 to $38,834, respectively. [US Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h16.html ]


McCain Claimed Americans Were "Better Off Because We Have Had A Pretty Good Prosperous Time."
In the January 2008 Republican debate, McCain commented, "I think you could argue that Americans overall are better off, because we have had a pretty good prosperous time, with low unemployment and low inflation and a lot of good things have happened. A lot of jobs have been created." [CNN GOP Debate, 1/30/08, video]

McCain Said A Lot of Americans' Economic Problems Are "Psychological."
When discussing the gas tax holiday, McCain said, "I think, psychologically - and a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological - confidence, trust, uncertainty about our economic future, ability to keep our own home." McCain said that his gas holiday will give people a psychological boost and that solving the mortgage crisis would be a major psychological step forward. [FOX News, "Your World With Neil Cavuto," 4/16/08, video]

McCain's "Economic Plans Really Are an Extension of the Bush Administration Policies."
"McCain doesn't like to hear it, but his economic plans really are an extension of Bush administration policies…When all the economic mumbo-jumbo is removed, that fact remains." [Boston Globe, Editorial, 7/9/08, boston.com]