John McCain can’t tell the difference between the regular Army and the National Guard.
Blew up the Islamabad Marriot and killed over forty people. This kind of thing is obviously distressing. But it strikes me that if Pakistan-based militant groups start turning to these kind of attacks, rather than to doing stuff in Afghanistan or the remote frontier regions, that the bulk of Pakistani opinion will almost certainly turn in favor of harsher measures against them which could, ultimately, improve the prospects for some U.S. policies.
Atrios writes that “Aside from his brief flirtation with campaign finance reform, McCain has never shown any interest in regulation of any kind.”
That doesn’t seem quite right to me. For a period of time, for example, McCain wanted to ban mixed martial arts competitions. Similarly, his flirtation with campaign finance reform wasn’t so much brief as it was focused on an extremely narrow issue — a desire to ban a particular form of campaign contribution, rather than advance any coherent goals. McCain’s recent turn against a particular form of short selling strikes me as in keeping with that record; he likes to identify a “bad guy,” and then ban it rather than looking at systemic issues.
Recent Fed and Treasury rescues of Bear Sterans, AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, total $900 billion in cost, according to CNBC. The federal deficit, now at $400 billion, will likely explode from the bailouts.
Sen. John McCain has proposed doubling Bush’s tax cuts, resulting in a deficit of $505 billion. On Thursday, in an interview with Tom Ashbrook, McCain adviser John Taylor said McCain could still balance the budget by 2013 after the bailouts:
Q: So has Sen. McCain changed at all his plans on tax cuts? Can you lay out these big bailouts and still have these tax cuts that he’s been promoting — the Bush tax cuts extended and more?
TAYLOR: Well you need to have tax cuts that focus on creating jobs and getting America going. … Sen. McCain wants to make sure the economy grows. He has a detailed plan to balance the budget by the end of his first term. It requires discipline to keep spending keep spending growth from being too rapid.
Listen to it:
Former Treasury Secretary and Obama adviser Lawrence Summers was incredulous, challenging Taylor to “make available a detailed budget documenting your claim that Sen. McCain will balance the budget with 2013 for external scrutiny and to show where the cuts are from.” Taylor, however, refused, claiming the ” information’s already been available to the Tax Policy Center.” In a tense exchange, Summers shot back:
SUMMERS: John, I am sorry that you are speaking in this way. And I make the challenge. The Tax Policy Center has laid out $3.4 trillion of extra deficits from Sen. McCain’s plan. Show us the spending cuts! Show someone the spending cuts!
With the $900 billion in bailouts, McCain’s plan to eliminate the deficit by 2013 is impossible without the most paralyzing of spending cuts. This problem becomes even worse for McCain after Henry Paulson’s announced yesterday a new plan to help banks offload mortgage assets costing “hundreds of billions” of dollars.
“This cripples the domestic policy priorities of the next president,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) of Paulson’s announcement. The McCain campaign, however, seems to believe their reckless tax cuts are immune to this financial crisis.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is an avowed climate science believer who comes from a state with enough solar resource to power the entire nation. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is an avowed climate science denier who comes from a major oil patch state.
So why has McCain voted with Inhofe and against clean energy and the environment a staggering 42 out of 44 times since the mid-1990s? And that doesn’t even include eight straight votes on extending the renewable energy tax credits that McCain missed in the last year, where he would have sided with Inhofe and against a clean energy future.
The answer is that “Few politicians in history have more successfully sold a phony image about caring for the environment than Sen. John McCain” — which is the central point of my new Salon piece, “John McCain’s hot air.” The facts are clear: McCain is at best an out-of-touch green washer and at worst simply a pathological liar.
For instance, at an Aspen Institute meeting in August, when McCain was asked about those missed votes, he simply lied to the audience:
As for McCain’s “long record of that support of alternate energy,” consider the votes on renewable energy funding and a federal “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS) that he did show up for this decade:
CBS News took a look at whether John McCain’s health care plan would raise taxes on millions of American families the other night. Watch it:
Here’s what we think is important.
First, the McCain plan will eventually result on higher taxes on most households with health insurance through their jobs. That’s because the McCain tax credit will grow only with inflation. Current tax benefits grow with premiums, which increase three or four times faster than inflation.
Second, the McCain plan will result in higher taxes for some households right away. Families with higher incomes and more expensive insurance plans are most likely to get hit by higher taxes.
Third, the full impact of the McCain plan is difficult to calculate because the McCain campaign is trying to have it both ways on a critical question at the heart of his health care plan: whether it imposes payroll taxes (as well as income taxes) on health benefits.
As originally announced, McCain seemed to impose both income and payroll taxes on health benefits. That would mean that typical middle-class families would pay higher taxes within a year or two.
Now the McCain campaign is apparently saying that they will impose only income taxes on health benefits. If that’s right, then – as CBS reports – most families will see tax cuts in initially. However, because the credit would still quickly fall behind premiums, the plan would still increase taxes on most families eventually. Moreover, McCain’s would cost an additional $1.3 trillion — a massive cost which the McCain campaign has not acknowledged.
Making families pay more for their health care is not some accidental quirk due to the details of the McCain plan. It is a key part of the conservative ideology to shift costs onto families, which they believe will reduce wasteful health care spending. But it is more likely to leave families struggling with higher and higher health care costs and forced to skip care they need.
New York Times article reminds us that Joe Biden is not only alive, he’s running for Vice President! It’s just that nobody notices. One reason, I think, is that the candidates stopped debating national security issues right around the time Biden was picked even though adding a confident national security voice to the ticket was part of the rationale for going with Biden.
Paul Krugman notes that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) published an article on his health care plan in the current issue of Contingencies — the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. In his article, McCain attempts to make his case for deregulating the health insurance industry by extolling the benefits of the last decade of deregulation in the banking sector. He writes:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
As Yglesias writes, McCain is “such an enthusiast about financial market deregulation that he was bragging about his plan to make the health care system as awesome as the financial system.”
The fly in the ointment of the feel good story of “the surge” and improved counterinsurgency tactics bringing security to Iraq has always been that the level of sectarian violence in Baghdad actually kept increasing for quite a while after the new problem was in place. By the time the violence drop occurred, Baghdad neighborhoods had generally become monosectarian enclaves after a process of cleansing. This sequence of events is, on one level, fairly well known — General Petraeus owned up to it in congressional testimony, CNN’s Michael Ware has talked about it, etc. — but on another level it’s barely penetrated political consciousness. But a new UCLA study that uses the innovative method of looking at patterns in electricity use manages to really quantify the impact much better than previous characterizations:
Now needless to say, this ethnic cleansing in Baghdad doesn’t explain, say, the success of the Anbar Awakening at all. But on the other hand, the “awakening” began well before the surge. And in Baghdad terms, if we’d begun withdrawing troops in 2007 and then violence shot up, and then eventually violence went down once minority groups had all been pushed out of their homes, I doubt people would be crowing about the success withdrawal had in bringing peace to Baghad.
In recent days, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been promising to “put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed that have caused a crisis on Wall Street.” This is an interesting development for McCain, who before this week was a champion of deregulation.
It is doubly interesting though, because McCain voted for the bill that deregulated Wall St. and allowed such “reckless conduct” to occur in the first place. And one of the bill’s architects was McCain economic adviser, former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX).
In 1999, Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which abolished “all of the significant rules put in place at the time of the Great Depression designed to prevent a repeat.” Specifically, this act “destroyed the Depression-era barrier to the merger of stockbrokers, banks and insurance companies.”
Yesterday, a group of economists, including Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, slammed Gramm for having a “mentality that doesn’t understand the nature of systemic risks in financial systems,” and said that his bill helped create the current financial turmoil:
Economic experts say that Gramm and others are to blame for the current crisis that is shaking Wall Street.
Gramm’s successful effort to pass banking reform laws in 1999, which reduced decades-old regulations separating banking, insurance and brokerage activities, helped to create the current economic crisis.
“As a result, the culture of investment banks was conveyed to commercial banks and everyone got involved in the high-risk gambling mentality. That mentality was core to the problem that we’re facing now,” Stiglitz says.
Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said that “we were setting up this bonfire years ago — the deregulation, the inordinate amount of liquidity given to the system all set the stage for the bubble and the bust.”
So McCain is promising to put an end to the “reckless conduct” that he voted to allow, while being advised by a team that still believes rampant deregulation is the way to go.