Today on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he would not support the stimulus plan in its current form. With the help of host Chris Wallace, McCain criticized infrastructure spending, specifically singling out a plan to expand internet access to rural communities:
MCCAIN: There’s got to be some kind of litmus as to whether it’ll really stimulate the economy and whether it will in the short-term. Some of the stimulus in this package is excellent; some of it, frankly, has nothing to do — some of the projects and others that you just mentioned, $6 billion for broadband and internet access. That will take years.
It’s an odd critique, considering that rural broadband expansion has long been a high priority for McCain. Though he now claims that it’s not stimulative, in 2005, as the lead sponsor of The Community Broadband Act, McCain cited other countries that provide internet access to their communities to insist, “As a country, we cannot afford to cut off any successful strategy if we want to remain internationally competitive.”
Expanding broadband was also a major part of his presidential campaign. Speaking last April in Inez, KY, McCain emphasized that “government has a role to play” to makes sure “every community” has access to high-speed internet — and that it was key to driving innovation:
MCCAIN: In particular, through access to high-speed Internet services that facilitate interstate commerce, drive innovation, and promote educational achievements, there is the potential to change lives. These kinds of transformations of our way of life require the infrastructure of modern communication, and government has a role to play in assuring every community in America can develop that infrastructure. This country has a long history of ensuring that rural areas have the same access to communication technology as other places.
As to McCain’s critique that expanding broadband would take too long, in 2005 he explained that his bill was necessary “if we are to meet President Bush’s call for ‘universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007.’” If McCain thought universal broadband could be achieved in two years then, why can’t Obama actually fulfill Bush’s call within two years now?