Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain's Economic Guru

Have You Finished Greenspan's Book Yet Mr. McCain?

It's well-known by now that John McCain claims no strength on economic matters. When asked about the subject on January 17, 2007, The Senior Citizen Senator From Arizona infamously said "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should - but I've got Greenspan's book."

At the time he also promised that filling the void would be a priority when selecting a vice-presidential nominee. Which leads me to wonder which of the FIVE colleges Sarah Palin attended in her quest for a degree in journalism schooled her on the subject. Which leads me on further reflection to the realization that it's a moot point. A journalism major who can't even name a single newspaper that she reads may have absorbed even less from an economics minor, if indeed she ever took one.

Having broken his pledge to find a Vice Presidential running mate with the economics chops to fill the enormous void in his own knowledge, can we really expect that Mr. McGoo McCain has even read the book? He was after all quite willing not only to vote for, but to bang the drum in support of Prince Henry of Paulson's original 'rob from the middle class, give to the rich' so-called bailout scheme without bothering to read the THREE PAGE text of the proposal. So I don't exactly see him as a threat to clean out the shelves at the local library.

There is in fact considerable evidence that McCain has NOT read Greenspan's book - including the fact that Greenspan himself went on the record last month repudiating McCain's economic policies. Think Progress put out a post with video. Greenspan was most vehemently opposed to McCain's extension of the Bush tax cut, which would increase the deficit -already at $10 TRILLION - a guaranteed burden on you, your children, and your grandchildren. AKA The Bush Legacy.
After endorsing Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy which turned Clinton-era record surpluses into record deficits, Greenspan has much to atone for. Telling the truth about McCain’s agenda is a good start.

As the Wonk Room has noted, McCain’s tax cuts would produce the highest federal deficit in 25 years. After inheriting Bush’s $407 billion deficit, yearly deficits under McCain would increase sharply, beginning with at least $505 billion in FY2009.

McCain has not specified how he would pay for his tax cuts, though he claims he will balance the budget in his first term. Recognizing that McCain’s math doesn’t add up, McCain’s top economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin has said, “I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction.”
So the bad news about McCain is that he doesn't understand the economy, he has not addressed his weakness with a smart pick of running mate, and he hasn't bothered even to read a book on the subject. The much worse news is that even if he had read the book, it's the wrong damn book. It's Greenspan's policies, driven more by conservative ideology than common sense, that got the country into the mess it's in now. And as Albert Einstein wisely noted, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

This cartoon from Tom Tomorrow brilliantly illustrates how Greenspan's policies for decades have been nothing but a thinly disguised mechanism to transfer wealth to the already obscenely wealthy, unremittingly greedy and shamelessly irresponsible 'entrepreneurial class.' That isn't working out too well. Do we really want to continue on with this kind of thinking?

(Originally published Nov., 2007)

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