John McCain on Budget & Economy
Republican nominee for President; Senior Senator (AZ)
McCAIN: We obviously have to stop this spending spree that’s going on in Washington. Do you know that we’ve laid a $10 trillion debt on young Americans, $500 billion of it we owe to China? We’ve got to have a package of reforms and it has got to lead to reform prosperity and peace in the world. And I think that this problem has become so severe, that we’re going to have to do something about home values.
OBAMA: It’s not enough just to help those at the top. Prosperity is not just going to trickle down. We’ve got to help the middle class. Part of the problem is that for many of you, wages and incomes have flat-lined. For many of you, it is getting harder and harder to save, harder and harder to retire. Sen. McCain is right that we’ve got to stabilize housing prices. But underlying that is loss of jobs and loss of income. That’s something that the next treasury secretary is going to have to work on.
McCAIN: I have a plan to fix this problem and it has to do with energy independence. We’ve got to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us. We have to keep Americans’ taxes low. All Americans’ taxes low.
OBAMA: This is a verdict on the failed policies of the last eight years that said that we should strip away consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down. Step one was a rescue package that means making sure taxpayers get their money back. The middle-class need a rescue package. That means tax cuts for the middle-class. It means help for homeowners. It means we are helping state governments set up projects that keep people in their jobs. We’ve got to fix our health care system, we’ve got to fix our energy system. You’ve got to have somebody in Washington who is thinking about the middle class and not just those who can afford to hire lobbyists.
McCAIN: This rescue package means we will stabilize markets, we will shore up these institutions. But it’s not enough. That’s why we’re going to have to go out into the housing market and buy up these bad loans and we’re going to have to stabilize home values, and that way, Americans can realize the American dream and stay in their home.
OBAMA: Let me tell you what’s in the rescue package for you. Right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means is that small businesses can’t get loans. If they can’t get a loan, that means that they can’t make payroll. If they can’t make payroll, then they may end up having to shut their doors and lay people off. And if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country. So it could end up having an adverse effect on everybody, and that’s why we had to take action. But we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
McCAIN: Some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night that we don’t even know about until months later.
OBAMA: Each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy. And one of the things I want to do is make sure we’re providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that’s made right here in the US, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.
A: We have to obviously cut spending. I have fought to cut spending. We can adjust spending around to take care of the very much-needed programs including taking care of our veterans. A healthy economy with low taxes, with not raising anyone’s taxes, is probably the best recipe for eventually having our economy recover. And spending restraint has got to be a vital part of that. One of the major reasons why we’re in the difficulties we’re in today is because spending got out of control. We owe China $500 billion. And spending can be brought under control because I have fought against excessive spending my entire career. And I’ve got plans to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending. If there’s anybody here who thinks there aren’t agencies of government where spending can be cut and their budget slashed, they have not spent a lot of time in Washington.
First of all the suspiciously round $100 billion figure is largely a figment of the McCain campaign’s imagination. Not a single independent budget expert would vouch for it. McCain’s economics adviser says it is an extrapolation from various studies, including a 2006 study by the Congressional Research Service, which identifies a total of $52 billion in earmarks. However, much of this money is tied to items such as foreign aid to countries like Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, that McCain says he will not touch.
Excluding those programs McCain has promised to preserve, the draconian slashing of earmark expenditures might save around $10 billion a year. But that is still a long way from the $100 billion that McCain says that he can identify “immediately.”
When the real estate market crashed in the late 1980s, many S&Ls crashed along with it, leaving the taxpayers to pick up the tab. Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan was among the biggest speculators--and also the biggest of the flameouts, costing $2.6 billion in taxpayer funds.
The investigations and reports that followed landed McCain and four other senators--Democrats Dennis DeConcini (AZ), Alan Cranston (CA), John Glenn (OH), and Donald Riegle (MI)--on the front page, their mug shots accompanied by dollar figures showing the amount Keating had raised for them over the years. Between 1982 and 1987, the five senators received a total of $1.4 million in campaign contributions and gifts from Keating. Asked at a press conference if his contributions had bought him influence, Keating replied, "I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so."
A: 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. But let’s have some straight talk. Things are tough right now. Americans are uncertain about this housing crisis. Americans are uncertain about the economy, as we see the stock market bounce up and down. But I think what we’re trying to do to fix this economy is important. We’ve got to address the subprime housing problem. We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which I voted for twice to do so. I think we need to eliminate the alternate minimum tax.
A: I think we are better off overall if you look at the entire eight-year period, when you look at the millions of jobs that have been created, the improvement in the economy, etc.
A: Yes, and it’s tough here in California, it’s tough in Arizona, it’s tough particularly all over, but it’s very tough particularly in the high growth states. The efforts that have been made so far are laudable. We may have to go further, but the fact that the FHA and the other organizations of government under Secretary Paulson’s direction, and he is doing a good job of sitting down and fixing at least a significant number of these problems. We’ve got to return to the principal that you don’t lend money that can’t pay it back. There’s some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished. There’s got to be a huge amount more of transparency as to how this whole thing came about so we can prevent it from happening again. If necessary, we’re going to have to take additional actions and particularly in cleaning up a mortgage.
A: Actually, I don’t know where you got that quote from. I’m very well versed in economics. I was there at the Reagan Revolution. I was there just after we enacted the first tax cuts and the restraints on spending. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, which addresses virtually every major economic issue that affects the US. I’m very well versed on economics. That’s why I have a strong team around me that respect my views and my vision. And that’s why The Wall Street Journal, in a survey of economists recently, that the majority of economists thought that I could handle the nation’s economy best. And I have been a consistent fighter to restrain spending and to cut taxes. And my credentials & my experience & my knowledge of these economic issues, I think, are extensive. And I would match them against anybody who’s running.
Russert’s quote comes from a 2005 interview with the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 26, 2005: “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.”
We could not find that McCain has said that quote “repeatedly,” but he has made similar comments recently The Chicago Tribune quoted McCain talking to reporters on Dec. 18, 2007: “The issue of economics is something that I’ve really never understood as well as I should. I understand the basics, the fundamentals, the vision, all that kind of stuff.”
A: I know of no military leader, including Gen. Petraeus, who says we can’t sustain our effort in Iraq. So you’re wrong. The fact is, we are succeeding in Iraq. We’re going back down to previous levels, and we will be able to withdraw troops over time if we succeed. We have American troops all over the world today & nobody complains about it because we’re defending freedom That’s one of the obligations of being the world’s superpower. I’m proud to adopt the strategy that is succeeding, and that’s happened. I’m the only one that said that. It is succeeding. We will be able to reduce our costs, and we will be able to have a stable Middle East, where our vital national interests, national security interests are at stake. I’m so proud of the job that the men and women in the military are doing there, and they don’t want us to raise the white flag of surrender.
A: The first thing we need to do is stop the out-of-control spending. Out-of-control spending is what caused the interest rates to rise. It causes people to be less able to afford to own their own homes. We need to stop the spending And the way we can get our budget under control is to have strong, fundamental fiscal underpinnings. The second thing that we need to do, of course, is stop spending $400 billion a year overseas to oil-producing countries that come right out of our economy immediately. Some of that money goes, unfortunately, to fund terrorist organizations. We’ve got to develop technologies to reduce this dependency on foreign oil, and eventually eliminate it, and stop this outflow of some $400 billion a year.
A: Of course, any nation that no longer has economic strength sooner or later will lose its military strength, so it’s a national security issue. We have many trillions of dollars of unfunded liability. Obviously, we’ve been on a spending spree. If oil reaches $100 a barrel, which many people think it may, $400 billion of America treasure will go to oil-producing countries. Some of those monies will go to terrorist organizations.
A: Absolutely. We let spending lurch completely out of control. As president of the United States, I’d take an old veto pen that Ronald Reagan gave me, and I’d veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk. And we’ve got to stop it and stop it now. I look forward to it.
ANNOUNCER: $233 million for a bridge to nowhere. Outrageous. $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Unbelievable. A million dollars for a Woodstock museum in a bill sponsored by Hillary Clinton. Predictable. Who has the guts to stand up to wasteful government spending? One man, John McCain.
McCAIN: I’ll stop wasteful spending by Congress and restore Americans’ trust in their government. I’m John McCain and I approve this message.
Whether it was truly a “bridge to nowhere” is debatable: Gravina Island, while it has almost no permanent population, is also home to the Ketchikan International Airport, which processes about 200,000 passengers a year. Alaskan officials hoped that the bridge would simplify airport access and allow development on Gravina. The bridge was not the only or the most expensive project attached to the transportation bill, and it may not have been the most frivolous. But it became a symbol for government pork.
In light of the furor over the “bridge to nowhere,” Alaska’s governor opted to use the money for other pursuits. The bridge was never built, but McCain has been using it as his prime pork example since 2005.
But McCain wasn’t present for the vote on an amendment he co-sponsored to remove the stipulated funding for the museum and reroute about a third of it to maternal and child health services. He was out on the campaign trail.
It’s true, as the McCain campaign points out, that McCain’s vote would not have changed the outcome. Still, we wonder whether voters might have a different view of McCain’s ridiculing of the museum not just in this ad but in two others, as well as a presidential debate, if they knew of his absence for the key votes.
He was on the right-hand side of most "values" issues--at a time when they had NOT been endorsed by Democrats. In economic policies, McCain's priorities also revealed the same type of free-market principles as Phil Gramm of Texas, "Boll Weevil" Democrat-turned-Republican, who moved from the House to the Senate in the early 1980s and would continue to be one of McCain's closest allies, even though they diverged on campaign finance reform and tobacco legislation.
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has found that both Obama and McCain are proposing combinations of tax and spending policies that would increase the federal deficit. It found that in 2013, Obama’s proposals would produce a net deficit increase of $286 billion, while McCain’s major policies would produce a net deficit increase of between $167 billion and $259 billion. In talking to CNN, the CRFB President estimated that McCain’s deficit increase would fall midway between the extremes of that range, at $211 billion.
Bush: It’s the president’s job to make sure Congress doesn’t have the money to spend in the first place. It is the president’s job to stand up to express the will of the people, advocate and fight for a meaningful real tax cut. And that’s what I’m going to do.
McCAIN: Americans are hurting right now, and they’re angry. They’re hurting, and they’re angry. They’re innocent victims of greed and excess on Wall Street and as well as Washington, D.C. And they’re angry, and they have every reason to be angry. But we also have to have a short-term fix, in my view, and long- term fixes [as you outlined about my plan].
OBAMA: The fundamentals of the economy were weak even before this latest crisis. Sen. McCain and I agree that we’ve got to help homeowners. I disagree with Sen. McCain in how to do it, because the way Sen. McCain has designed his plan, it could be a giveaway to banks if we’re buying full price for mortgages that now are worth a lot less.
Now, we have allocated $750 billion. Let’s take $300 billion of that and go in and buy those home loan mortgages and negotiate with those people in their homes, 11 million homes or more, so that they can afford to pay the mortgage, stay in their home.
Now, I know the criticism: what about the citizen that paid their mortgage payments? It doesn’t help that person if their next door neighbor’s house is abandoned. And so we’ve got to reverse this. We ought to put the homeowners first. And I am disappointed that Secretary Paulson and others have not made that their first priority.
The Facts: On his Web site, McCain calls it “an American Homeownership Resurgence Plan.” Under his plan, the government would buy up some troubled mortgages at their full value--meaning the lenders would not take a loss. The government would then renegotiate those mortgages, so that eligible homeowners would be paying rates based on their homes’ current, reduced value. The McCain campaign says the plan would cost about $300 billion: “Funds provided by Congress in the recent financial market stabilization bill can be used for this purpose.”
The Verdict: True. The McCain campaign acknowledges the plan would shift the burden to taxpayers.
The Facts:On Sept. 15, at 9 AM, McCain said: “There’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets. I think still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times.“ About 3 hours later, McCain said: ”We’re going to put an end to the abuses on Wall Street that have resulted in the crisis that we are seeing unfold today.“ At the same event, McCain said, ”The American workers, those are the fundamentals of America & I think they’re strong. But those fundamentals are being threatened today because of greed & corruption on Wall Street.“
The Verdict: Misleading. Biden takes some of McCain’s remarks out of context.
Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy. And we’ve got to give some trust and confidence back to America.
I know how to do that, my friends. And it’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not President Bush’s proposal. But I know how to get America working again, restore our economy and take care of working Americans.
The match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. I’ll bet you may never even have heard of them before this crisis. But they’re the ones that, with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies in Washington, that went out and made all these risky loans, gave them to people that could never afford to pay back.
Some of us stood up two years ago and said we’ve got to enact legislation to fix this. We’ve got to stop this greed and excess. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie were doing. They resisted any change. But Fannie and Freddie were the catalysts, the match that started this forest fire. There were some of us that stood up against it. There were others who took a hike.
But in fact, the recently passed $700 billion rescue package already grants the treasury secretary authority to undertake just such a program. It requires the secretary to buy up troubled mortgages while considering “the need to help families keep their homes & to stabilize communities.” It also says “the Secretary shall consent to term extensions, rate reductions (or) principal write downs.”
Obama himself had urged this as the package was being considered. He said, “we should consider giving the government the authority to purchase mortgages directly instead of simply purchasing mortgage-backed securities.”
A: We’ve got to cut spending. We’ve let government get completely out of control. Obama has the most liberal voting record in the US Senate. It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left. The point is we need to examine every agency of government. First of all, I’d eliminate ethanol subsidies. Particularly in defense spending, we have to do away with cost-plus contracts.
A: How about a spending freeze on everything but Defense, Veterans Affairs and entitlement programs? We ought to seriously consider, with the exceptions of caring for our veterans, national defense and several other vital issues.
A: I know and understand, and I did watch excerpts from Senator Obama’s speech. Look, I’ve said for a long time, America is in trouble. As I’ve been talking all across America, including the heartland, these are tough, tough times, and we need changes. Now, what Senator Obama wants to do is raise people’s taxes, wants to basically sort of redistribute the wealth. I want to keep everybody’s taxes low, and I want everybody rich. He wants to raise taxes.
A: On the issue of Bear Stearns, every financial expert I know says that if it had failed, it would have rippled throughout the entire financial community and would have caused greater problems which eventually would have come down on the average citizen if our economy continues to decline the way that it’s been doing.
A: Look, Americans are hurting right now. They don’t know if they have to get another job. The challenges are enormous right now. The key to it is not to bail out people who speculated or people who engaged in unsavory practices. The key to it is get the lender and the borrower together. We know how hard that is because of identifying the lender, but there’s ways to do it. Of course there’s a role for government, but it’s not to reward greedy speculators. It is not to reward people who misbehave. And it certainly isn’t a huge expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars which, in the long run, could exacerbate the problems that exist
A: I will, as president, veto every one of these big spending bills. I will impose some fiscal discipline. We will clean up our act and we will regain the confidence of the American people as being careful stewards of our tax dollars, and we will fix this problem with having to borrow money from China, then we will balance our budget, just like every governor in America has been required to do.
A: I would have vetoed spending bill after spending bill after pork-barrel project after pork-barrel project, in the tradition of President Reagan. The first pork-barrel bill that crosses my desk, I’m going to veto it and make the authors of those pork-barrel items famous all over America. We’re going to stop it.
Q: What specific programs would you cut if you were president?
A: Line-item veto is the best tool. We need it very badly.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.
We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.
Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.
Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.
What we offer today are not the precise spending decisions of a given year's budget; rather, we call upon the Congress and the nation to adopt the following guidelines for our fiscal policy over the next decade. This long-term blueprint is essential for maintaining both the immediate public-sector goal of balancing the budget and the private-sector goal of a healthy economy. This can be achieved through the following steps:
|Other candidates on Budget & Economy:||John McCain on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader