Monday, March 24, 2008



Go, Johnny, Go!-- 4 more years, 100 more years, whatever...

McCain just got back from a taxpayer financed campaign junket to Europe and the Middle East. The British are still laughing about his pretentious-- and patently absurd-- claims to be related to Scottish royalty. Other Europeans aren't laughing so much as worrying. Sales clerks are still calculating all the funds he and Cindy spent on their last minute shopping spree in London while Fleet Street mainstay the Financial Times speculates that a McCain presidency would be even worse than Bush's 2 terms, something that is difficult to imagine for anyone who hasn't closely followed McCain's career beyond the slick hype from his well-oiled PR machine.
It may seem incredible to say this, given past experience, but a few years from now Europe and the world could be looking back at the Bush administration with nostalgia. This possibility will arise if the US elects Senator John McCain as president in November.

Over the years the US has inserted itself into potential flashpoints in different parts of the world. The Republican party is now about to put forward a natural incendiary as the man to deal with those flashpoints.

The problem that Mr McCain poses stems from his ideology, his policies and above all his personality. His ideology, like that of his chief advisers, is neo-conservative. In the past, Mr McCain was considered to be an old-style conservative realist. Today, the role of the realists on his team is merely decorative.

Driven in part by his intense commitment to the Iraq war, Mr McCain has relied more on neo-conservatives such as his close friend William Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor. His chief foreign policy advisor is Randy Scheunemann, another leading neo-conservative and a founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Mr McCain shares their belief in what Mr Kristol has called “national greatness conservatism”. In 1999, Mr McCain declared: “The US is the indispensable nation because we have proven to be the greatest force for good in human history?.?.?.?We have every intention of continuing to use our primacy in world affairs for humanity’s benefit.”

Mr McCain’s promises, during last week’s visit to London, to listen more to America’s European allies, need to be taken with a giant pinch of salt. There is, in fact, no evidence that he would be prepared to alter any important US policy at Europe’s request.

...Mr McCain’s policies would not be so worrying were it not for his notorious quickness to fury in the face of perceived insults to himself or his country. Even Thad Cochran, a fellow Republican senator, has said: “I certainly know no other president since I’ve been here who’s had a temperament like that.”

The writer, Anatol Lieven, is a distinguished professor at Cambridge and he ends his piece by asking U.S. voters and European governments "to ponder the consequences if Mr McCain is elected and how they could either prevent a McCain administration from pursuing pyromaniac policies or, if necessary, protect Europe from the ensuing conflagrations." What he doesn't do is give even passing consideration to the fact that McCain isn't just worse than a mirror of Bush's worst international tendencies but that he's also as bad as Bush on domestic issues.

The International Herald Tribune is jointly published in Paris by the NY Times and Washington Post and is widely read by Americans living, working and traveling abroad. They are far more concerned with domestic American policy matters than the Financial Times and, like most American economists, they find a great deal to worry about in regard to McCain's economic agenda. If you are skeptical-- or outraged-- about Bush's policies of redistribution of wealth upward-- resulting in a hugely increased income gap and even a life expectancy gap-- you'd better prepare yourself for even worse if the corporate media succeeds in assassinating Barack Obama with soundbytes.
The big supply-side tax cuts of the 1980s and the 2000s did not work as advertised, even supporters admit, but the concept has reappeared in this year's U.S. election campaign anyway, in an amended form.

"What really happens is that the economy grows more vigorously when you lower tax rates," said Kevin Hassett, an adviser to the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, and the director of economic policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "It is beyond the reach of economic science to explain precisely why that happens, but it does."

But even with a growing economy, the promised boon in tax revenues never materialized.

Reaganomics did see an increase of per capita income-- a modest 0.5% annually. Had you been making $40,000 a year, your inflation-adjusted salary would have gone up to $40,200. Under Clinton, tax rates for the wealthiest Americans went up slightly and-- despite what right wing think tanks shrilly pronounced-- annual per capita income increased rather sharply-- by 6.3%. In other words, your $40,000 salary would have gone up to 42,520 in a year. Since Bush took over taxes have been cut for the rich again and per capita income increases are about a third of what they were during the Clinton presidency... and sinking dramatically.

Both Hillary and Obama plan to re-adjust tax rates for people earning over $250,000 a year to the 39.6% rate it was under President Clinton. McCain careens back and forth from promising to lower rates for the rich even more to promising to lock in the lower rates (35%) they have now. "Not since Reagan ran in 1980 have supply-side tax cuts been so central a campaign issue. George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton each ended up raising taxes, ignoring the supply-side thesis, which the elder Bush once called 'voodoo economics.' Now his son argues that his tax cuts strengthened the economy." And if you feel that the economy has strengthened you should probably be voting for McCain who, in effect is vowing to embody a third Bush term. On the other hand, if inflation and recession aren't your idea of a strengthening economy, there are no Republicans you should be voting for on any level. Even a fiscally conservative Republican like Andrew Sullivan worries that McCain's economic plans would add a staggering $4 trillion to the national debt-- "and that's without taking into account the costs of paying for that hundred year war McCain keeps talking about, rebuilding the army, paying for veterans' health care, or anything else we might take it into our heads to do."

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At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't know if he's worse, but he seems just as un curious and shallow as Bush. Especially when it comes to economics.And thats frightening to me given the economic mess we are in.

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the New York Times bought out the Washington Post's share of the International Herald Tribune. And we readers are suffering for it.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the past few days, the fawning American media has provided rave reviews of John McCain's visit to France. While the New York Times lauded "McCain's soothing tones," Time gushed about "McCain's Paris romance" and the transformation of Franco-American relations made possible by his warm embrace of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. But lost in these accounts is John McCain's vitriolic France-bashing in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Back in 2003, John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with the Paris-hating purveyors of "freedom fries" and "old Europe."

For the details, see:
"Fawning Media Ignore McCain's Past France-Bashing."


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