Am I the only one who still doesn’t understand why Jesse Jackson said he wanted to cut Barack Obama’s nuts off? Jackson seems to be so deep in apologizing-and-backpedaling mode, that we’re not getting much of an explanation of what he was saying.
Earlier this week, one of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) top advisers, Carly Fiorina, argued for McCain’s free-market approach to health care by noting that “there are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication” and that many “women would like a choice.” But, as ThinkProgress noted, Fiorina’s argument was undermined by McCain’s 2003 vote against legislation that would have required insurance coverage of prescription birth control. When asked about the disconnect on his campaign bus today, McCain nervously replied, “I certainly do not want to discuss that issue“:
Q: Earlier this week Carly Fiorina was meeting with a bunch of reporters and talked about it being unfair that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. And -
McCain: I certainly do not want to discuss that issue. (uneasy laughter)
Q: But apparently you’ve voted against (McCain laughter continues)
McCain: I don’t know what I voted -
Q: Voted against coverage of birth control, forcing health insurance companies to cover birth control in the past. Is that still your position?
McCain: I’ll look at my voting record on it, but I have, uh, (5 second pause) , I don’t recall the vote right now. But I’ll be glad to look at it and get back to you as to why, I don’t -
Q: I guess her statement was that it was unfair that health insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?
McCain: (after 8 second pause) I don’t know enough about it to give you an informed answer because I don’t recall the vote, I’ve cast thousands of votes in the Senate. I will respond to – it’s a, it’s a (nervous)
McCain’s stumbling answer is reminiscent of when he was asked in March 2007 about public funding for contraceptives and he could only reply, “whether I support government funding for them or not, I don’t know.”
UPDATE: MSNBC’s Morning Joe showed video of McCain’s answer this morning:
Perino Demands Apology After Boxer Calls Out White House For Lying About Cheney’s Global Warming Editing
This week, in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), former White House official Jason Burnett revealed that Vice President Cheney’s office deleted portions of the testimony of Center for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding, who testified last year about the consequences of climate change on public health. In a press conference yesterday, Boxer charged that White House spokesperson Dana Perino had “lied” about the rationale behind the editing of the testimony:
BOXER: As I understand it, she said, the draft information did not comport with that, the science that was in the IPCC report. This was a lie. And we proved it before. We had in the last press conference we did on this.
Talking to reporters today, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino shot back, demanding an apology from Boxer for accusing her of lying:
PERINO: I have never said such a thing about a fellow public servant, and I wouldn’t if I didn’t have all the facts. I think I deserve an apology.
In reality, however, Boxer is right that the White House did not tell the truth about the evisceration of Gerberding’s testimony. Initially, Perino denied accusations that the testimony was edited, claiming it was not “watered down” — a blatant distortion given Burnett’s revelations. As Boxer noted, in October 2007, Perino claimed:
PERINO: But when you take a very complicated issue, like climate change science, and you have the International Panel on Climate Change, which reported last spring — this is a study that the United States largely funded, and that we embraced in its conclusions — as I understand it, in the draft there was broad characterizations about climate change science that didn’t align with the IPCC.
But Burnett explained to Boxer that the reason for the cuts was to “keep options open” for the EPA to avoid triggering immediate consequences for polluters emitting greenhouse gases — not because of White House concerns over the “accuracy of the science.”
Nevertheless, the White House spin continues. Today, spokesperson Tony Fratto claimed, “There’s absolutely nothing unusual here in terms of the inter-agency review process.” But as a CDC official said in October, the changes made to Gerberding’s testimony were particularly “heavy-handed.”
Unlike her former boss Scott McClellan, it seems that Perino simply hasn’t realized that the White House Press Secretary is sent out to cover up for Dick Cheney’s lies.
Yesterday, while pushing his new economic plan — Jobs for America — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued that repealing President Bush’s tax cuts would raise taxes for the “23 million small business owners” who file their tax returns as individuals and strongly insisted that “every time we cut capital gains taxes there has been in an increase in revenues.”
The first assertion was made in a speech before the League of United Latin American Citizens:
Keeping individual rates low isn’t intended as a favor to wealthy Americans. 23 million small business owners pay those rates, and taking more money from them deprives them of the capital they need to invest and grow and hire. If you believe you should pay more taxes, I am the wrong candidate for you.
The second came out during an interview on CNN:
You can’t seem to get over the fact that it’s spending that’s out of control. And you restrain spending and also you can’t get over the fact that historically when you raise people’s taxes, revenue goes down. Every time we cut capital gains taxes, there has been an increase in revenues.
McCain is wrong on both counts.
Regarding the tax cuts, the McCain campaign’s number assumes that every small business that files as an individual makes over $250,000 annually, which is the threshold at which the tax hikes would actually kick in. But “according to the Tax Policy Center, only 1.4 percent of people defined by the Treasury as small-business owners are in the top two tax brackets,” and would be subject to higher taxes.
Additionally, Time’s Jay Newton-Small found that 94.5 percent of self-employed small business owners actually reported an income of below $100,000, so “the total number of small businesses effected by a tax hike on those who net more than $250,000 a year remains a few hundred thousand – nowhere near the 23 million” McCain suggests.
As far as capital gains are concerned, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities clearly notes that “cutting capital gains rates reduces revenues over the long run,” and “middle-income families derive only a miniscule benefit from the 2003 cuts in capital gains and dividends.” Just 2.5 percent of capital gains were collected by households making less than $50,000 in 2005, according to the Tax Policy Center, while 59 percent went to families earning more than $1 million.
This continues an already bad week for McCain’s economic policies. On Monday, he paraded out a list of 300 economists who supposedly support his economic plan, but it turns out that some of them don’t actually support his whole agenda, and are, in fact, critical of many of his proposals.
But what else should we expect from the man who admitted that “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”
McCain claims ‘everything is on the table’ to fix Social Security, then quickly takes an item off the table.
During an interview with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) contradicted himself in a matter of minutes regarding Social Security. When asked how he would “fix Social Security,” McCain first said, “You’ve got to say look, everything is on the table.” But then, minutes later, when asked if he favored “raising the cap,” McCain said, “No.” He then criticized Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for previously saying that raising the payroll cap is “one possible option.” Listen here:
McCain’s Social Security contradiction isn’t surprising considering he regularly denies his own record of support for privatization. In fact, just yesterday, McCain called the basic structure of Social Security “an absolute disgrace.”
During Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) implored Mukasey to make a “clean break” from the Bush administration’s record of allowing possible violations of federal law to go unpunished, urging him to investigate administration officials who authorized torture.
Mukasey responded by saying that he “cannot and should not” prosecute those individuals because such an investigation would focus on what is “politically acceptable” rather than what is “legal”:
MUKASEY: Any CIA agent who acted in good faith reliance on an opinion from the Department of Justice cannot and should not be prosecuted because if they are, any opinion from the Department of Justice to anyone on the frontline is totally and completely useless. [...]
DURBIN: What about those who authorized that torture?
MUKASEY: I think its the same answer. … I think what lawyers have to do is focus on what’s legal and not be concerned with what is politically acceptable later on. And if we go after them and prosecute them that’s exactly what they will be concerned about.
Torture is not, and has never been, a political issue. The techniques authorized by Bush administration officials are illegal under both U.S. and international law. Less than a year ago, Mukasey himself said the Bush administration’s infamous torture memo was “worse than a sin, it was a mistake.” Mukasey’s refusal to investigate, however, should not be surprising. Like Gonzales before him, Mukasey does not appear to be concerned with holding government officials accountable for their “sins.”
The National Review today correctly notes that John McCain’s tax plan “offers very little in the way of direct benefits to Americans in the middle of the income scale.”
The Review then go on to suggest that the only McCain provision with any middle-class relief — doubling the dependent exemption — “would be worth only $525 per child per year. A more direct approach to reducing the overtaxation of families would be to expand the child tax credit.” We made that point back in April.
The Review finally suggests that McCain should make the child credit relief “applicable against payroll as well as income taxes.” Progressives regularly push for much the same thing, increasing the refundability of the child credit. “Refundability” is a word that dare not speak its name among conservatives. But this is also a good idea.
Kudos to the National Review.
I’m working on some thoughts about Josh Marshall’s long series of posts on what’s wrong with John McCain, but consider that in the works. For now, let me note this from The Note:
McCain is writing the latest script with Steve Schmidt, who brings discipline, decisiveness, and determination to his new role — and most importantly, the perception of all three qualities for the journalists and GOP insiders who were almost ready to give up on McCain.
It doesn’t really surprise me to learn that The Note considerations “perception” of positive qualities among “journalists and GOP insiders” to be the most important thing a new campaign manager could have. But clearly that’s a silly thing to believe. But I get the sense that McCain himself believes it — that if he jiggers things just right GOP Machers + McCain Fanboys in the Press = National Electoral Majority.
In an interview with the Washington Times today, former senator Phil Gramm, who is Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) “econ brain,” blamed the state of the economy on “the conviction of many Americans that economic conditions are the worst in two or three decades.” “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” said Gramm.
Gramm decried the “constant whining” of the American people when it comes to the economy because he believes “we’ve never been more dominant”:
“We have sort of become a nation of whiners,” he said. “You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline” despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.
“We’ve never been more dominant; we’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today,” he said. “We have benefited greatly” from the globalization of the economy in the last 30 years.
Despite McCain’s recent claim that we are in a recession, he has previously echoed Gramm’s diagnosis of the economy. In April, McCain said that “a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological.” Watch it:
At the same time he was blaming the state of the economy on the economic anxiety of the American people, Gramm also blamed the media. “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day,” said Gramm.
Blaming the economy on the media is a common McCain campaign strategy. In June, McCain econ adviser Kevin Hassett claimed that the press wants to “convince everyone that the economy is in recession” in order to hurt McCain. Informal McCain adviser Karl Rove argued in February that the economy “stinks” because of the media.
UPDATE: Watch Phil Gramm’s “whiners” remark:
It’s been a hectic day so I haven’t had a chance to note that Elton Brand decided to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers rather than re-up with the new LA Clippers featuring Baron Davis. That means another trip to the lottery for the Clips, and it also means the creation of a Philly squad that’s pretty damn good by Eastern Conference standards. Boston and Detroit still seem better, but Brand and Andre Iguodala is a solid inside-outside combination, Andre Miller’s been underrated for years, and Samuel Dalembert is a solid role player. If this means Thaddeus Young can start at the three with Iguodala sliding over to shooting guard, thus plugging the big hole in their starting lineup.