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Archives for John Mccain (page 1 / 1)

Obama's Falling Popularity Still Higher Than Republican's

Scott Rassmussen wrote about Obama's polling numbers in today's Wall Street Journal.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.

A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives.

People are realizing that the Obama they voted for may not have been the real Obama. The Presidential candidate who promised to fight earmarks and out of control spending just as hard as Senator McCain isn't the same person as the President who's proposing massive increases in spending.

But Republicans shouldn't be too encouraged by this news. They're still the most hated political party in America.

Finally, what probably accounts for a good measure of the confidence and support the Obama administration has enjoyed is the fact that they are not Republicans. Virtually all Americans, more than eight in 10, blame Republicans for the current economic woes, and the only two leaders with lower approval ratings than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.

Free Trade and Christian Charity

It's popular among the Christian left to talk up the "Old Testament" values of social justice: caring for the poor, paying fair wages, not perverting justice, etc. They're fond of the Old Testament prophets and the prophets jeremiads against wealth and privilege.

Increasingly, the Christian left is also fond of promoting Democrat candidates and talking about how Republican candidates only look out for the rich and powerful. The exact people that the Old Testament prophets inveighed against. Ergo, the Old Testament prophets hated Republican ideals and all good Christians will vote against Republican ideals.

If that's true, what should we make of the Democrats record on free trade? After all, the poor in America are far richer than the poor in the third world. By any just standard, the America's poor are rich. They're poor only if they're exclusively compared to other Americans. Free trade is the biggest and best "social justice" platform in existence. Free trade spreads the wealth around the entire world and gives opportunities to billions of people in the third world.

If we do as the Democrats demand -- if we restrict free trade -- we remove opportunities from billions of impoverished people. "Fair trade" would take jobs away from those that need them the most. "Fair trade" would raise prices for those that can least afford to pay them. "Fair trade" would benefit rich Americans (that is, all Americans) at the expense of the global poor.

Is that Christian? I don't think so. But don't take my word for it. India has good reason to fear a Democrat government.

So, pressures will mount for protectionist measures and beggar-thy-neighbour policies in the US, hurting countries like India. Apart from erecting import barriers and subsidising dumped exports, US politicians will seek to curb the outsourcing of services to India. Visa curbs will slow the movement of skilled workers and their dollar remittances back to India.

[Obama] has voted against trade barriers only 36% of the time. He supported export subsidies on the two occasions on which he voted, a 100% protectionist record in this regard.

In 2007, he voted to reduce visas issued to foreign workers (such as Indian software engineers), and to ban Mexican trucks on US roads. He sometimes voted for free trade - he supported the Oman Free Trade Act and a bill on miscellaneous tariff reductions and trade preference extensions. More often he voted for protectionist measures including 100% scanning of imported containers (which would make imports slower and costlier), and emergency farm spending.

In 2005 he voted to impose sanctions on China for currency manipulation, and against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He voted for the Byrd amendment, a disgraceful bill (later struck down by the WTO) that gifted anti-dumping duties to US producers who complained, thus making complaining more profitable than competitive production.

Obama says the North American Free Trade agreement is a bad one, and must be renegotiated. He has opposed the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on the bogus ground that Colombia is not protecting its trade union leaders from the drug mafia. In fact, such assassinations have fallen steadily from 205 in 2001 to just 25 last year. Obama is cynically twisting facts to woo the most protectionist US trade unions. This cannot but worry India, which may also be subjected to bogus slander and trade disadvantages.

Unlike Obama, McCain voted against imposing trade sanctions on China for supposedly undervaluing its currency to keep exports booming and accumulate large forex reserves. India has followed a similar policy, though with less export success than China. But if indeed India achieves big success in the future, it could be similarly targeted by US legislators and, will need people like McCain to resist.

Obama favours extensive subsidies for US farmers, hitting Third World exporters like India. This has been one of the issues on which the Doha Round of WTO is gridlocked. McCain could open the gridlock, Obama will strengthen it.

Obama also favours subsidies for converting maize to ethanol. The massive diversion of maize from food to ethanol has sent global food and fertiliser prices skyrocketing, hitting countries like India. But McCain has always opposed subsidies for both US agriculture and ethanol. While campaigning, he had the courage to oppose such subsidies even in Iowa, an agricultural state he badly needs to win if he is to become president.

I want to help the poor. I want the poor to succeed and become rich. I don't want to protect the rich at the expense of the poor. That's why I support open borders, free trade, and no import / export tariffs. That's why I'm surprised that so many people who talk so much about helping the poor consistently support policies that will make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

McCain's Healthcare Plan

I've said before that McCain's healthcare plan is one of the few proposals he's made that I actually like. Robert Carroll explained some of the benefits in the Wall Street Journal.

The McCain health-care insurance tax credit may well be one of the most misunderstood proposals of this presidential election. Barack Obama has been ruthless in his attacks. But the tax credit is highly progressive and will provide a powerful incentive for people to purchase health insurance. These features under normal circumstances should endear Democrats to the proposal.

There has been a lot of rhetoric and misstatements, but what exactly does Sen. McCain have in mind? He would replace the current income tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance with a refundable tax credit -- $5,000 for those who purchase family coverage and $2,500 for individual coverage. Mr. McCain would also reform insurance markets to stem the growth in health insurance premiums.

What many may not realize is that the federal government already "spends" roughly $300 billion to $400 billion through the tax code to encourage people to pay for their health care through employer-sponsored health insurance. This subsidy takes the form of the exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance from both income and payroll taxes.

Consider the current exclusion. Its value rises with how much someone spends on health care, and how much of this spending is funneled through employer-sponsored health-care coverage. This creates an incentive for people to purchase policies with low deductibles, or which cover routine spending. These policies look a lot less like insurance and more like prefunded spending accounts purchased through employers and managed by insurance companies. Consider homeowners and auto insurance policies. Do these cover routine spending on cleaning the gutters or tuning up a car?

The subsidy encourages people to buy bigger policies that cover more, and leads to greater health-care spending. Moreover, lower deductibles and coverage of routine spending dulls consumers' sensitivity to price. Reducing the tax bias should result in insurance that is more focused on catastrophic coverage and less on routine spending.

By replacing the income tax exclusion with a fixed, refundable credit, the McCain proposal reduces the tax bias for large insurance policies. Because the credit is for a fixed amount, regardless of how much you spend on health care, it helps break the link between the existing tax subsidy and how much is spent on health care. This improves incentives in the health-care market by reducing the bias that has contributed to such a high level of health-care spending.

Moreover, the credit provides a powerful incentive for people to purchase insurance. The two tax provisions -- the new credit and the repeal of the income tax exclusion -- on net provide a substantial tax cut of $1.4 trillion over 10 years. Not only do most Americans receive a tax cut under the McCain proposal, but the tax cut is directed toward low and moderate income taxpayers.

What is striking about this picture -- and contradicts Mr. Obama's public comments -- is that the McCain tax credit for the purchase of health insurance exceeds the value of the current exclusion for all income levels shown. Indeed, it generally provides more resources to purchase health insurance than the existing exclusion. The total subsidy for health care would rise from about $3.6 trillion over 10 years today to roughly $5 trillion under his proposal.

Will the insurance that is purchased be a generous plan with first dollar coverage or low deductibles? It is much more likely to be a plan with higher deductibles that is more focused on providing true insurance against catastrophic losses rather than a more generous plan that includes a lot of prepayment for routine and predictable medical expenses. But this is precisely one of the objectives of the policy: to reduce the current tax bias that encourages people to funnel routine health expenses through insurance policies.

The elimination of the income-tax exclusion should reduce private health-care spending; to the extent this reduces the cost of health care, it should also put downward pressure on the growth of Medicare and Medicaid costs. Thus, by removing the tax bias for more generous health coverage, the McCain health credit also has the potential to provide important dividends to the entitlement problem down the road.

To be clear, I'm not wild about the subsidy that McCain's plan excludes. But I love the way it changes the current health insurance incentives. It not only gives people the motiviation to spend less on healthcare -- it also gives them the means to do so.

Too bad it has no chance of being passed into law. Even if McCain wins the presidency, the Democrat House and Senate would never pass this plan.

McCain's Socialist Tendencies

I said earlier today that I don't really trust McCain on economic issues. Slate quotes McCain's hero, Teddy Roosevelt, on taxes.

We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. ... The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and ... a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.

That's the same type of thing that McCain has been known to spout, when he forgets that he's running as a Republican. And it's another reminder of why I won't be voting Republican for President this year.

Fred Thompson Gets Out the Vote

Fred Thompson gave a great speech this morning, exhorting Republicans to get out the vote. It's just unfortunate that his candidate is John McCain. While John McCain might be better than Barack Obama on economic issues, I'm not really convinced that he would be. McCain is a deficit hawk who would be comfortable raising taxes in order to pay for the recent bailouts and his proposed increases in defense spending. McCain is an economic populist who hates profits and "greedy" businessmen. McCain is an economic populist who believes the government needs to buy mortgages to bailout homeowners.

No thanks.

But this speech is great motivational material for anyone thinking of voting for Bob Barr. An excerpt:

All of this is important, because how we respond to our economic challenge is more important than the crisis itself. For the last 25 years the United States, and indeed the world, has enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. You wouldn't know it from listening to Obama, but worldwide over 1 billion people have been able to lift themselves out of poverty. This is due to America's influence, from our defense of freedom in World War II to the Cold War, to the ascendency of our free-market capitalism, the adoption of open trade policies, and globalization. Yet some say our current financial difficulties are evidence that we should turn our back on our founding, free market principles ... that it's time for big changes.

But in a world that is increasingly inter-connected by jobs, trade and global finance, how our economy is viewed by the rest of the world is extremely important to America's economic well being. The worst thing in the world we could do is appear to be unfriendly to investment and trade with an economy constrained and made uncompetitive by layers upon layers of new regulations, and bogged down in the divisiveness of class warfare. Yet if you are to take them at their word this is precisely the direction that an Obama administration and a Democratic Congress would take us, turning a short term recession into a long term economic decline for the United States.

And while our regulatory regime needs to be examined and improved, we should be clear: capitalism is not the cause of our nation's economic challenges. The subprime mortgage crisis was not rooted in lack of regulation, but in bad policies made by Democrats in Congress that forced banks to give mortgages to people who could not afford the houses they were buying. These are the same politicians who protected the excesses and fraudulent conduct of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are the same ones who now want to control the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars to solve the problem they helped create, and who tried to slip $200 billion into the first bailout bill for their political cronies in ACORN, the organization that is now systemically perpetrating voter registration fraud around the country. This record, Obama and the Democrats say, entitles them to total control of all of the levers of power in Washington.

Under an Obama-Reed-Pelosi scenario nothing will restrain them from making the secret ballot in union elections be a thing of the past. The so called "fairness doctrine" will likely be passed, restricting free speech on talk radio, possibly even the Internet.

McCain seeks special 'fair use' copyright rules for VIPs

I didn't need any more reasons to dislike John McCain. But I have another one anyway. Continuing his general theme of believing that government employees are just plain better than regular folk, he wants copyright law to favor politicians over everyone else.

(Via McCain seeks special 'fair use' copyright rules for VIPs.)

John McCain's presidential campaign has discovered the remix-unfriendly aspects of American copyright law, after several of the candidate's campaign videos were pulled from YouTube.

McCain has now discovered the rights holder friendly nature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forces remixers to fight an uphill battle to prove that their work is a "fair use."

However, instead of calling for an overhaul of the much hated law, McCain is calling for VIP treatment for the remixes made by political campaigns.

McCain's proposal: complaints about videos uploaded by a political campaign would be manually reviewed by a human YouTube employee before any possible removal of the remix. The process for complaints against videos uploaded by millions of other Americans would stay the same: instant removal by a computer program, and then possible reinstatement a week or two later after the video sharing site has received and manually processed a formal counter-notice.

Just one more reason to vote for Bob Barr this year.

Nobody Wants a Whining Commander in Chief

Barack Obama didn't do so well at Pastor Rick Warren's forum Saturday night. How did the Obama campaign react? By whining and claiming that somebody else cheated:

I've been looking into all this buzz that McCain somehow cheated -- that he wasn't in a "cone of silence" -- during Barack Obama's half of the Saddleback summit Saturday night. The talk got started on "Meet the Press" yesterday, when Andrea Mitchell said, "The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well prepared."

Ah, yes. Because -- of course -- the only way to be "well prepared" for an event is to cheat. It can't be that one candidate has more life experience than the other. It can't be that one candidate is a good enough politician to know what kinds of questions to expect and to prepare accordingly. No. The other candidate must have cheated.

Even if it were true, whining isn't the right response. When you're auditioning for the job of "leader of the free world", you should expect everyone else to cheat. You should expect that other world leaders will often attempt to mislead you. You should expect others to gain the upper hand through devious means. Whining just means that you can't operate under normal conditions.

Except that McCain didn't even cheat.

As far as the McCain side is concerned, I spoke to Charlie Black a few minutes ago. He told me McCain's motorcade left his hotel at 5 p.m. Saturday -- that's the time Obama went on stage at Saddleback. Black told me the trip took 35 minutes, and that McCain was in the car with the Secret Service guys, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and press aide Brooke Buchanan. (Black was in another car.) Black says that McCain did not hear any of Warren's questions or Obama's answers during the car ride. Then: "We arrived at Saddleback and went into a holding room, which is a separate building from the main church. In the room there were four or five staff people, plus McCain, and there was no TV, no audio, no nothing. We talked through a few of the topics. We had spent time in the afternoon preparing, doing Q&A, and we did a few more questions to warm him up. At about ten til six, the advance guys came to get McCain to take him to the stage, because the handshake with Obama was a few minutes before 6 p.m. McCain never heard any of this stuff."

Tell me again why Senator Obama is ready to lead? Right now, he seems to fit in well with kindergarteners. Give me a call when he's moved up a few grade levels.

Obama Backers Officially Unhinged

Obama fans think that McCain's "The One" ad tries to link Obama to the anti-Christ. I think they've gone completely batty.

The ad has also generated criticism from Democrats and religious scholars who see a hidden message linking Sen. Obama to the apocalyptic Biblical figure of the antichrist.

The spot, called "The One," opens with the line: "It shall be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed." Images follow of Moses parting the Red Sea and Sen. Obama telling a crowd, "We are the change we've been waiting for."

Critiques of the ad started surfacing earlier this week when Eric Sapp, a Democratic operative, circulated the first of two memos pointing out images that he believed linked Sen. Obama to the antichrist.

"Short of 666, they used every single symbol of the antichrist in this ad," said Mr. Sapp, who advises Democrats on reaching out to faith communities. "There are way too many things to just be coincidence."

Stewart Hoover, director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the references to the antichrist in the McCain ad were "not all that subtle" for anyone familiar with "apocalyptic popular culture." Some images in the ad very closely resemble the cover art and type font used in the latest "Left Behind" novel. The title of the ad, "The One," also echoes the series; the antichrist figure in the books, Nicolae Carpathia, sets up "the One World Religion."

Ooookay. It takes a "special" kind of mind to see these connections. (Update: You can read an extensive excerpt of one of the memos.)

But don't take my word for it. Watch it for yourself.

50,000 Harleys

John McCain, starting to hit his stride:

Thousands of motorcyclists greeted Republican presidential candidate John McCain with an approving roar Monday as he sought blue-collar and heartland support by visiting a giant motorcycle rally.

"As you may know, not long ago a couple hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day," McCain said.

Sure, it's pandering. But it's effective and it doesn't cost the taxpayer anything. I'll take it.

John McCain -- Ignorant Meddler

I really, really don't like the idea of John McCain as the GOP nominee for 2008. Thankfully, every time I try to fool myself into thinking that he might not be a bad candidate, he reminds me of why I don't like him.

Take the mortgage "crisis" for instance. He was asked about it in a recent debate. Here's what he had to say:

I think that we've got to return to the principal that you don't lend money that can't pay it back. I think that there's some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished. I think there's got to be a huge amount more of transparency as to how this whole thing came about so we can prevent it from happening again.

When a town on Norway is somehow affected by the housing situation in the United States of America, we've gotten ourselves into a very interesting dilemma.

If necessary, we're going to have to take additional actions and particularly in cleaning up a mortgage. A mortgage should be one page and there should be big letters at the bottom that says, "I understand this document."

We ought to adjust the mortgages so people who were eligible for better terms, but were somehow convinced to accept the mortgages which were more onerous on them. We need to fix the rating systems, which clearly were erroneous in their ratings, which led people to believe that there were these institutions which were stable, which clearly were not.

(Via In the Agora.)

A few comments here. What about personal responsibility? A lot of people tried to buy homes that they couldn't afford. Isn't that a form of greed? I think both the borrowers AND the lenders were greedy. I think both should suffer the consequences of their actions.

Secondly, Senator McCain says that "erroneous ratings systems" fooled people into investing in unstable institutions. Maybe, just maybe, those institutions were stable right up to the point where they started making poor investments. Sometimes it takes a while to tell the difference between a poor investment and a risky, but worthwhile, investment. Maybe investing is risky business. Maybe people shouldn't invest in new, speculative investments unless they can afford to lose their money. Maybe Senator McCain should admit that he's not God and can't remove all risk from people's lives.

Thirdly, about that "town in Norway [that's] affected by the housing situation in the United States of America". It's called risk management. It's a way for companies to lower the risk of a new investment by spreading the risk across more investors. Companies won't make a lot of investments unless they can find a way to decrease the risk of the investment. Because the risk could be spread worldwide, companies made many loans that they never would have otherwise made. True, some of the loans went bad. But many of the loans went to people who were able to pay them off. Would you prefer that banks stopped lending money to risky borrowers?

Senator McCain, please leave the market alone. Your uninformed, ignorant meddling will only make things worse.

Losing Voters on Immigration

The Republican party thought it had the perfect issue to both rev up the base and angry blue collar Democrats -- attack immigration. After all, the Republican base supposedly hates the idea of people breaking the law and entering America without Uncle Sam's express written permission. And blue collar Democrats hate the idea of someone "stealing" their job by accepting lower wages.

All the Republicans needed to do was push for an "enforcement only" immigration bill. Refuse to do anything about our mess of immigration laws until the border had been locked down tight. "No changes without fences!" was their rallying cry. Republicans like John Kyle and John McCain, who tried to push for a comprehensive bill, were demonized and ostracized.

The strategy failed miserably. Instead of turning out the vote for the GOP, it destroyed whatever inroads the GOP had previously made with Latino voters. Richard Nadler, of America's Majority, recently completed an in-depth study of how the Republicans' position on immigration affected Latino voters. The results aren't pretty.

Nadler wrote about his results in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.

Undocumented Latinos constitute 3.8% of the American work force. But these 5.6 million workers are a mere fraction of the 17.3 million Latino citizens 18 years or older. Of these, 4.4 million are themselves foreign born.

In my recent study for the Americas Majority Foundation entitled "Border Wars: The Impact of Immigration on the Latino Vote," I document not what Hispanics opined, but how they actually voted, given a clear choice between advocates of "enforcement first" and comprehensive immigration reform. The results, based on returns from 145 heavily Hispanic precincts and over 100,000 tabulated votes, indicate this: Immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.

In these three races, Republicans' vote share in heavily Latino precincts dropped 22 percentage points.

What does this mean nationwide? Republicans' presidential Hispanic vote share increased to 40% in 2004 from 21% in 1996. In 2004, Latinos comprised 6% of the electorate, but 8.1% of the voter-qualified citizenry. With the partisan margin shrinking, the incentive for major Hispanic registration efforts by either party was scant.

That changed in 2006, when the GOP's Hispanic vote share declined by 10%. And, as we have seen, the drop was twice as precipitous where Republicans disavowed comprehensive immigration reform. With the huge wedge in vote share that "enforcement-only" opened, the cost-effectiveness of voter-registration efforts improved dramatically -- for Democrats.

Great work guys. Can we finally put to rest the idea that slamming shut the border and demonizing entire racial groups is a good way to win elections? Can we finally start working on a way to fix the entire immigration process rather than pretending that a border fence is the only thing missing?

President Fred Thompson?

J. Peter Mulhern, at The American Thinker, is pretty convinced that we'll be talking about President Fred Thompson in a little over a year.

Conventional wisdom is hardening around the proposition that Fred Dalton Thompson is too lazy, ill-prepared, tired, old, lackluster, inexperienced, inconsistent and bald to make a successful run for President.

Of course, conventional wisdom rarely gets anything right. When it does, it's only by accident.

In this case conventional wisdom is not just wrong but comically so. Thompson will win the Republican nomination for two reasons. First, he's a very impressive candidate. Second, there's no realistic alternative. He will win the general election for the same two reasons.

He next runs down a list of reasons why all of the other Republican and Democrat candidates are unrealistic alternatives (Romney has the instincts of a used-car salesman, Giuliani is too far from the base, McCain and the base hate each other, etc). Then, he starts talking about what makes Fred a good candidate.

We have gotten so used to speaking of the President of the United States "running the country" that most of us no longer notice how unrealistic and unAmerican that expression is. The whole point of the American Revolution was to establish a country without anyone to run it. We don't want or need a president who is inclined to run things. We need a President who leads and inspires. Fred, with his non-managerial background, is the only candidate of either party who seems to get this.

Consider that Fred's calm, sensible demeanor permits him to say things that would terrify many ordinary voters coming from someone who seemed less steady. Thompson can say radical things and nobody turns a hair. If any other candidate talked about overhauling social security and the tax code while we fight a global war of which Iraq and Afghanistan are mere outcroppings, a substantial part of the electorate would faint dead away. Try to wrap your mind around the reality that coming off like an old coot having a conversation as he whittles next to the pot-bellied stove down at the country store is an excellent way to attract most American voters.

Frankly, that appeals to me. And that aspect of his personality comes through very clearly in some of his recent campaign videos. He's unassuming and laid back. But he possesses a razor sharp wit and a quick mind.

I need to know more than I do about Fred's positions on various issues. But he's impressed me with what I've seen so far.

Losing the Presidency

I think John McCain just lost whatever chance he had at the Presidency:

[T]alking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government.

Yep, he really said "I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected". I certainly won't be voting for him, ever. Simply put, I don't trust him to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of these United States, so help me God".

(Hat Tip: Division of Labour).