Ok, after three technical articles in a week, it’s about time to branch out a bit, and talk a bit of politics.
Over at AssociatedContent, which is apparently part of the “Yahoo! Contributor Network”, they seem to let just about any yahoo sign up as a columnist and have their articles published as part of the Yahoo! News feeds, just as if it were written by a pundit who actually knew what they were talking about. One such commentator is Mark Whittington, who last week penned an article entitled “What If John McCain was President “.
It was…um.. imaginative, to say the least. So, I thought I’d try a more reality-based rebuttal. Note: This will be taking the same structure as his article, and following it point-by-point, so I’ll quoting bits of it, so you know what I’m talking about. Of course, that will lead to charges of “cherry-picking quotes” and taking them out-of-context, so if you feel that way, just read the full article at the link given above.
Health care reform: Whittington correctly surmised that the Health Care Reform Bill would never have been brought up. Hard to argue with that. However he then goes on to say the a McCain administration might “propose more market-oriented reforms, but nothing would move in a Pelosi/Reid Congress”. I’m not sure what potential reforms he has in mind, but the important part here is that he apparently believe the Democrats will reject it merely because it was proposed by a Republican. I guess after years of being a Republican, he just can’t imagine a politician doing something merely because it was in the best interest of the citizens (since clearly Republicans never do)
Spending: Well, after one mostly accurate prediction, Whittington goes off the rails with his next one. “There would be no $900 billion dollar spending package”. Wait a minute — Let us not forget that it was McCain who, during the 2008 campaign, most loudly cried that the economy was in trouble and that we had to act immediately to respond. The only way to get a stalled economy moving again is to spend money. Republicans like talking about giving money to businesses to hire more people, but no business is going to hire more workers unless someone is buying their products, no matter how much loose cash they have. Every plan to stimulate an economy boils down to this: Money must be spent. If you don’t understand that, you just don’t understand how economies work. The spending doesn’t have to be by the government–ordinary people could do it instead – but government spending is the fastest way. Alternately, you turn to the Republicans one-size-fits-all solution to every problem: tax-cuts! People have more money; they spend more money; the economy is happy. The problem with that is that you have to wait for the money to enter the economy slowly, and hope that the people that get the tax-cut spend it instead of saving it. Of course, if you cut government spending to pay for the tax-cut, it’s a wash. The best to can hope for it total spending staying the same, and to help the economy, spending must increase. A large portion of the current stimulus package is tax cuts (yes, your taxes are lower than they have been in many years), so it’s safe to assume that a McCain stimulus plan would be just larger cuts. In other words, costing the same amount or nearly so, but less effective.
Energy: Here he gives a list of things a President McCain would have supported: curbing greenhouse gases, cap and trade, no drilling in ANWR - most of which would have put him at odds with his Vice President and the rest of his party. But this is exactly what the maverick-y John McCain of 2008 would do. However, since then Sen. McCain has been rushing to fall inline with the far right-wing of his party, to the point of even denying he ever called himself a “Maverick” (despite it being in the subtitle of his autobiography). We can’t say what a Pres. McCain of 2011 would do, but it’s hard to imagine a Sen. McCain of 2011 supporting those positions. Then there is the ethanol subsidies, which Whittington says Pres. McCain would “certainly” have opposed. Except that this subsidy goes mainly to Midwest corn farmers, that is, small business owners in red states. Generally, it’s bad idea to have your first Presidential act to be to screw over the very people who just elected you.
Foreign Policy: Whittington claims here McCain would “shine”. Perhaps, but Whittington certainly doesn’t. He claims McCain would have been more aggressive with Iran and North Korea, and established a no-fly zone in Libya - he was writing before the actual no-fly zone was established, but also before the UN had approved it. In other words, Whittington thinks we should have acted unilaterally to invade three more countries, while we are still struggling to leave the two countries the last Republican president choose to invade. Our troops would have been spread so widely and so thin, support cost and causalities would have been enormous. And by acting without UN endorsement, we would be continuing the foreign policy started by Pres. Reagan: “The United States as the World’s Neighborhood Bully, who goes anywhere he wants and pushes around anyone he doesn’t like”. This is largely the reason why everyone in the world hates us! And this is why Pres. Obama specifically waited until an international consensus had agreed that the no-fly zone was warranted. (And I’m sure a Pres. McCain would have known that too, so we’ll put this all on Whittington).
The Space Program: Whittington claims the McCain would have supported new exploration “perhaps with more funding”. I cannot argue with that, but its funny that one time he talks specifically about funding a project, he talking about increasing funding. This “cutting the fat” to balance the budget thing isn’t as easy as it looks, eh?
The Economy & Politics: I’ll combine the last two, because, even in Whittington’s article, they are clearly linked. This is because of one basic truth of incumbent presidents - if the economy is good, they will be re-elected; if not, they won’t. Hence the primary political/economy difference between a McCain and an Obama administration is whether the Republicans want to see the current president re-elected (economy must be good) or defeated (economy must be bad). Presently, they want the current president defeated, and so, they are doing everything they can to undermine the economy. They have claimed that their number one priority is “Jobs” and yet they haven’t done a single thing which would produce a job. In fact, the only economic measures they have done is to cut spending and threaten to lay-off government workers — two things that will clearly make the economy worse.
So, what would be different under a Pres. McCain, where the Republican would want to keep the sitting president in power, and therefore must get the economy moving? Of course, they don’t want it really strong, as it was under Clinton — then the workers have power and they start asking for things like raises and time off and health care. They need it moving just fast enough to keep the people content. Hence, they need to do some thing to actual improve it. So, lots’o’tax cuts, but there would so need to be many infrastructure construction projects as there is under the current stimulus package, which they would bill as “Putting Americans to Work” and “Restoring America’s Greatness”. The deficit will skyrocket even more than it is now. There would be a Tea Party but without the support of their corporate sponsors (FreedomWorks, Fox News, Koch Industries), it would be small and disorganized.