Now on Day 2 of his failed economic policies tour, McCain is already off-message. As he prepares to speak at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Annual Convention, voters are wondering which McCain will show up: the McCain who tells conservative Republican voters he wants to secure the border first, or the McCain who talks about comprehensive immigration reform in front of Hispanic audiences and cosponsored an immigration bill he now says he would no longer vote for. One thing is for sure: McCain's record on immigration reform has been anything but consistent during the course of his campaign as he has tried to pander to anyone who is listening at the time.
Whether it's his economic tour that promotes more of the same failed Bush policies of the past eight years, or his speech at LULAC, this week John McCain's challenge is convincing voters they can trust him to present plans on the economy and immigration that will bring change to America. So far, he's failed to meet that challenge.
MCCAIN'S ECONOMIC PLAN DOESN'T ADD UP
McCain is Now Pledging to Balance the Budget in Four Years. According to his new "Jobs for America" economic plan, "John McCain will balance the budget by the end of his first term." ["Jobs for America; The McCain Economic Plan," http://www.politico.com/static/PPM103_jobsforamericashshs.html]
FLASHBACK: In April, McCain Cited "Economic Conditions" for His Reversal on Balancing the Budget in Four Years; Said He Would Balance the Budget in Eight Years. "Senator John McCain offered the broadest look yet at his economic policies in a speech on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, outlining a series of tax reductions and backing away from his pledge to balance the budget by the end of his first term. … Mr. McCain -- who said in February in Wisconsin that he would balance the budget by the end of his first term as president -- seemed to reconsider that on Tuesday, saying at a news conference later in Villanova that 'economic conditions are reversed' and that he would have a balanced budget within eight years. His economic aides said they could pay for all the tax cuts with spending cuts." [New York Times, 4/16/08]
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 ]
McCain: No Plan to Keep 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 ]
FactCheck.org: McCain's Spending Plans Don't Add Up. According to the non-partisan FactCheck.org, "McCain's big promise is that he can balance the budget while extending Bush's tax cuts and adding a few of his own. He likes to leave the impression that this can be done painlessly, for example, by eliminating 'wasteful' spending in the form of 'earmarks' that lawmakers like to tuck into spending bills to finance home-state projects. We found that not only is this theory full of holes, it's not even McCain's actual plan." [FactCheck.org, 5/13/08: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/the_budget_according_to_mccain_part_i.html ]
Washington Post Fact Checker: 4 Pinocchios for McCain's "Fantasy" Plan to Balance Budgets by Cutting Earmarks. "McCain's talk about eliminating $100 billion a year in earmarks is largely fantasy. His advisers are now promoting a more realistic plan of eliminating $100 billion in overall spending. But it is difficult to take even that promise very seriously given the fact that the senator refuses to identify exactly which projects he will be cut. To use a phrase coined by George H.W. Bush, this is 'voodoo economics,' based more on wishful thinking than on hard data or carefully considered policy proposals." [Washington Post Fact Checker Blog, 5/23/08: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/05/mccains_fantasy_war_on_earmark.html]
Cost of "Four More Years" Placed At $6.3 TRILLION. The CBO "January Budget and Economic Outlook" showed continued deterioration in the budget outlook with the projected 2008 deficit growing to $219 billion. But as bad as the budget situation has become under the current Republican Administration, continuation of the Republican policies by any of the Republicans on stage tonight will only make things worse. The majority staff of the Senate Budget Committee estimates that funding Republican priorities like making the Bush tax cuts permanent and funding ongoing - and perhaps permanent - operations in Iraq will add $6.3 trillion to the CBO's already dismal ten-year predictions. http://budget.senate.gov/democratic/documents/2008/cbojanupdatefactsheet2008.pdf
McCain only middle-class tax cut proposal completely leaves out 101 million households - including those working and middle-class Americans hardest hit by this downturn. In contrast, Senator Obama's plan benefits 95 percent of workers and their families. The principal middle class tax cut proposed by John McCain is an increase in the dependent exemption that will not be fully in effect until 2016. Most households without children would see nothing under the plan - a total of 101 million households, including 67 million households currently paying income taxes but who would not benefit because they have no dependents, and 34 million low-income households with no income tax liability but generally paying payroll taxes. Nearly all seniors (37 million out of 38 million) would be left out. Even for families with children, the increase in the dependent exemption provides only a modest tax cut. In the first year of the plan, it would be worth about $125 to a middle-class family with two children. That same family would eventually see their taxes increase under the McCain plan, because his health care plan would raise taxes on middle-class families over time. This is completely inadequate, and will not help the very people whose reduced spending is contributing to our slowing economy. The Obama plan offers more generous tax relief for middle class families, including a "Making Work Pay Credit" that would benefit 95 percent of workers and their families, providing $1,000 for a typical working family. Obama's plan would also expand tax credits to help families save, send a child to college, pay for childcare, and afford their mortgage, while eliminating income taxes for all seniors making less than $50,000. [Obama for America memo, The McCain Economic Plan: Four More Years?, 7/7/08]
IMMIGRATION REFORM: WHERE DOES MCCAIN REALLY STAND?
2005: McCain Introduced Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation With Senator Kennedy. "Millions of undocumented workers in the United States could come out of the shadows by registering with the government and paying fines or fees of at least $2,000 to begin earning permanent residency under the most sweeping immigration-reform bill in two decades. The bill introduced Thursday was dubbed the 'Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act' by its bipartisan group of sponsors, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. It would create a temporary-work visa program for foreigners to fill jobs requiring few or no skills, for up to six years. The legislation was touted as ensuring tougher enforcement of laws at the border and in the workplace while speeding the process of reuniting immigrant families. In addition, Mexico and other countries would be encouraged to enter into agreements to play a more active role in helping prevent illegal immigration into the United States, including promoting more economic opportunity back home. House sponsors Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake, both Arizona Republicans, and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., joined McCain and Kennedy on Thursday in casting the legislation as a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and national security." [The Arizona Republic, 5/13/05]
2008: McCain Said He Would Oppose the Legislation He Authored With Kennedy. Asked whether he would vote for the immigration legislation he previously sponsored, McCain eventually replied, "No, I would not." [CNN GOP Presidential Debate, 1/30/08]
2006: McCain Said an "Enforcement First" Strategy Focusing Only on Border Security is an "Ineffective And Ill-Advised Approach." "In April , the Senate overwhelmingly passed, in a bipartisan fashion, a comprehensive immigration reform package designed to secure our borders as well as address the economic need for workers in our Nation. In passing this legislation, the Senate rejected the argument for an 'enforcement first' strategy that focuses on border security only, an ineffective and ill-advised approach. Congress cannot take a piecemeal approach to a national security crisis. I believe the only way to truly secure our border and protect our Nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform. As long as there is a need for workers in the United States and people are willing to cross the desert to make a better life for their families, our border will never be secure." [McCain, Congressional Record, 9/29/06]
2007: Presidential Candidate McCain Touts Securing The Border First. In 2008, McCain said, "And our proposal has got to be securing the borders first. The American people have no trust or confidence in us that we would secure the borders." In November 2007, McCain argued, "I want to assure you that I'll enforce the borders first." [CNN Larry King Live, 2/14/08; CNN/YouTube GOP Presidential Debate, 11/28/07]
2007: McCain Acknowledged His Shift on Immigration Reform During the Republican Primary Campaign. "John McCain spent months earlier this year arguing that the United States must combine border security efforts with a temporary worker program and an eventual path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. Now, the Republican presidential candidate emphasizes securing the borders first. The rest, he says, is still needed but will have to come later. 'I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift,' McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. 'I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people's priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders.' The shift in approach is likely to draw criticism from McCain's GOP opponents. Immigration has been a flash point in the race, with rivals Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson all seizing on it." [Associated Press, 11/3/07]