Thursday, September 11, 2008

Promises, Promises (part II)

A little while ago, I linked to a column in CQ Politics criticizing Senator Obama's economic plans. I said I'd also link to the second part of the article criticizing Senator McCain's, so here it is.

John Cranford goes after McCain as he did Obama, saying:

[McCain's] candid remarks that he doesn’t really understand economics, that he doesn’t know exactly how many houses his wife owns, that he thinks $5 million in income is a measure of “rich,” are all signs that McCain isn’t fully engaged on the No. 1 issue of this campaign...

And even though truth-telling may not always be the path to winning elections, there are ways to acknowledge reality without complaining that the public needs to get over its malaise and to stop its whining.

Yet McCain hasn’t seemed to find them.

McCain does have an economic platform, of course. But it barely acknowledges the financial squeeze felt by the middle class (not to mention the poor, whose numbers continue to increase), and offers minimal doses of salve — chiefly a gasoline tax “holiday” that’s been roundly dismissed. McCain largely ignores the persistent financial calamity in the housing market, other than to embrace foreclosure relief measures that are similar to those already enacted and to promise no bailouts for corrupt lenders and speculators. And he papers over the federal government’s budgetary troubles with platitudes about trimming waste and eliminating earmarks, while improbably promising a balanced budget by 2013.
Most interesting, Cranford hits McCain for not acknowledging that tax cuts have not been shown to lead to economic growth in his estimate even though McCain calls for preserving the Bush tax cuts:
Under McCain’s tax proposals alone, about $5 trillion in additional government debt would be piled onto future generations over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center run by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. That’s a 50 percent increase over what we and our children owe today.
Despite claims that those tax cuts spurred economic growth, Cranford says that:
The rate of job growth since the end of the last recession has been less than half what it was in the 1990s. Business investment this decade — the presumed wellspring of new employment opportunities — has been a fourth as rapid as it was in the previous 10 years.
I think Cranford actually misses a lot in his analysis, though. People forget that Republicans ran Congress for 6 of the 8 years Clinton was President, and that they cut taxes pretty steeply in 1997. At the same time, the government actually balanced the budget, proving that if you're willing to restrain spending, tax cuts and balanced budgets can go hand in hand.

But of course, here in Washington, DC that's a very big "if."

In addition to what Cranford has written, I'd reiterate that McCain is behind Obama when it comes to confronting our gravest domestic problem - the out of control growth that Social Security and Medicare will face over the coming decades. Read more about that problem and the candidates' views here.

Both parts of Cranford's article are worth reading, but I think he went at Obama a little harder than he did at Bush.

No comments: