Saturday, November 26, 2005

McCain Exposed...

Well, only somewhat and in mostly positive light. This is actually one of the best articles on the Senator that I have seen, and truly gets to some of the questions that really are churning in our heads. Who is John McCain and what exactly are his policies?

Stephen Moore (formerly of the Club For Growth) attempts to find out. I come away with mixed feelings, to say the least (I think that is also the case for Moore). I'll post some of the highlights, but I strongly suggest taking a look at the entire article.
When I ask Mr. McCain if he's a conservative, he seems slightly agitated at having to defend his credentials in this way. "Hell yes, I'm a conservative. When it comes to a strong defense and smaller government, I'm as conservative it gets. Look at my National Taxpayers Union rating. I'm near 100% every year." (I do. He is.) Then he fumes: "I'm so disgusted with the way my party is wasting money. It's an embarrassment."

Can't go wrong there, I think he is sure to cut government waste.
Mr. McCain has shrewdly tapped into the rage that conservatives are feeling over President Bush's $800 billion Medicare drug bill (which he voted against), the highway bill with its 6,000 earmarked white-elephant projects (which he also voted against), and the infamous $500 million Alaska Bridge to Nowhere (which he led the crusade to defund).

These are certainly bold stances which are opposed to the policy of current leadership.
Yet Mr. McCain holds the most eclectic set of economic policy positions of any politician I've ever met. He seems to defy political typecasting, reveling in the role of maverick. He voted against the Bush tax cuts ("Way too tilted to the rich"), while supporting antigrowth initiatives to combat global warming ("Climate change is just a huge problem that really needs to be confronted"), and is the lead sponsor--with Sen. Ted Kennedy--of a guest worker program to allow immigrants to enter the country legally.

Here is where I get uncomfortable. I'll discuss this a bit further below. The immigration stance is a good one (I think) but could get him in trouble during red state primaries.
On the other hand, he's a fierce defender of free trade and a champion of school choice. "The day that members of Congress will send their kids to the public schools in Washington, D.C., is the day I'll know we've fixed education in America." Then he asks: "How can my colleagues say they are against vouchers or charter schools when they won't send their own kids to the schools in the town where we work?"

This speaks for itself.
On a broader range of economic issues, though, Mr. McCain readily departs from Reaganomics. His philosophy is best described as a work in progress. He is refreshingly blunt when he tell me: "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." OK, so who does he turn to for advice? His answer is reassuring. His foremost economic guru is former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (who would almost certainly be Treasury secretary in a McCain administration). He's also friendly with the godfather of supply-side economics, Arthur Laffer.

This offers some hope for perhaps shifts in his stances on the tax cuts (whereas in many other policy areas he seems to have firm stances).

I think Moore missed out on a good question, if we cut government spending and balance (or at least come close to) the budget would you restore Bush's tax cuts? Under which circumstances would you or would you not restore them? Would this merely be a shift in the progressivity of the rates?

Moore also did not address Social Security reform, but McCain was actually going across the country with Bush (before he abandoned the issue) so we know where he stands on that issue.

Moore largely focused on economics (which was the point) but I think McCain's stances on Iraq and the War on Terror are very clear and his credentials here are excellent, he really has only differed on the torture issue, but I think he is largely right here. If nothing else, I think he has been the most eloquent in his arguments against cutting and running.

As Moore says, McCain's platform will be that of government reform and Lord knows we need reform. At the moment my heart and mind want anything but another big-government conservative in 08. My two biggest issues are probably cutting government spending and the war on terrorism, McCain shines at both. I feel that he is as close to a sure-thing on so many issues that having someone who is a bit weak on taxes might be worthwhile. McCain will also have the best chance in 08, particularly if our party is still weak. We still have more to learn, but I think I a bit more warm to a McCain candidacy in 08.


Blogger Steve said...

I think we can put up someone better. I guess we'll have to see how the field looks in the next year or so... but I am open to the possibility that he could be the best.

11/26/2005 3:29 PM  

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