After four terms as Senator from Arizona, John McCain has written or co-sponsored enough legislation to give us a good idea of what he believes the proper role of government to be without explicitly asking. Even if we did ask, actions are what matters. Below is an analysis of McCain's electability based on bills he's sponsored, most of it in the last 8 years, and various speeches and op-ed pieces. I'll spare you the suspense, and give you the summary up front; read the rest for supporting details. McCain sees the federal government as the solution to nearly every problem, and advocates creating new bureaucracies and federal databases to track and monitor the "solutions." His bills are laden with the veneer of free market controls, tracking databases, and public-private information exchange and R&D so popular when alleged Republicans expand government; at the end of the day, he is expanding government in nearly every conceivable way. He is a committed Clintonian interventionist, often the lone Republican supporting Bill Clinton's interventions of choice in Sudan, Somalia, Kosovo, and Bosnia.
McCain considers himself capable of getting things done in Washington because many of his bills are bipartisan efforts. The results however, leave conservatives shaking their heads: Free Speech Control, Gun Control, Unlimited Immigration, Support for a Greenhouse Gas Tax, and Woodrow WilsonStyle International Gun-Barrel Democracy. McCain was the Democrats' useful conservative idiot in each of these cases. He was the lead sponsor of multiple bills no Democrat could have pushed through Congress, but given that almost all the co-sponsors of these bills are hard-core leftists we can see by his actions this Senator is a big government Republican on matters domestic, fiscal, and foreign.
McCain's Stifles the First Amendment and Free Speech – The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)
Also known as the McCain-Feingold act, this little gem regulates political speech by erecting limits to who can donate what, how soon before an election, as well as who can talk about a politician, or make "political" statements. The alleged intent of the act is to prevent influence buying on the part of corporations, wealthy individuals or foreign governments by limiting campaign donations, and "electioneering speech." As usual, the act completely misses the real problem, addressing only the symptoms. One probable intention of the act is to tip the balance of power in favor of incumbents and the Republicrat party by limiting political speech.
The real problem is that Congress has too much power. Adhering strictly to the Constitution would eliminate most of the regulatory agencies, favor granting, and legislation that create the demand for political contributions from well-connected businesses. Instead of addressing the problem of government run amok, this law addresses the symptoms by attempting to regulate donations and free speech.
A legal challenge has already been heard by the Supreme Court, with predictable results. While researching this point, I found the following. It astounded me, but probably shouldn't. Take a look at the lead plaintiff in the Constitutional challenge heard at the Supreme Court. Dr. Paul continues to amaze me with his consistent, principled, unwavering support of the Constitution. Here he is leading the charge against tyranny in May of 2003. No Presidential bid on the line, he was just doing what he does, defending liberty by arguing in favor of the Constitution. Dr. Paul co-signed a letter requesting a re-consideration of BCRA, including a coherent summary of problems with the legislation:
The idea behind regulating electioneering communication was to limit the use of unregulated and unreported monies from being used to advocate for or against a candidate. The problem with the provision is two-fold. First, these regulations overstep the bounds of genuine election-based communications by including non-election-related advertisements. Second, they have additionally proved to be ineffective and perhaps counterproductive in curbing the use of unreported money used during election season broadcast advertisements. For instance, groups which operate under the IRS tax code 527 have bought a great deal of election-influencing broadcast advertisements in the past couple of months and are unrestricted by BCRA provisions and the FEC
We would like to request that these hearings also include consideration of ways in which BCRA provisions may have overstepped the bounds of election-related regulation and be infringing upon the First Amendment rights of literally millions of Americans by limiting the rights of groups to band together to inform their fellow citizens on issues of policy and legislation.
Senator McCain is no friend of liberty, but it gets worse.
McCain's Second Amendment Sellout – The Gun Show "Loophole" Law
Senator McCain, our Republican from Arizona, an open carry state with average crime rates wants to expand the Brady Bill to close a "loophole" that allows private citizens to buy and sell guns to each other at gun shows, fund new gun control programs, and expand the BATF. Wouldn't a true conservative support the repeal of the awful Brady Law? No. He's expanding it, which is especially weird since he voted against it eight years earlier. Below is the Summary of the Bill the "conservative" Senator sponsored. His co-sponsors on the Bill include Senators Schumer, Clinton, Lieberman, and Carper (all Democrats) and fellow Republican Mike DeWine.
I've edited the Summary down, and added emphasis on the incredibly bad parts. I should probably just bold the entire thing.
SUMMARY AS OF: 5/15/2001 Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001 – Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to provide for regulation of firearms transfers at special firearms events (events at which 75 or more firearms are offered or exhibited for sale or exchange if one or more of the firearms has been shipped or transported in, or otherwise affects, interstate or foreign commerce, with an exception).
Prohibits a special firearms events frequent operator from organizing, planning, promoting, or operating a special firearms event without meeting specified requirements. Provides an option for 24-hour background checks at special firearms events for States with computerized disqualifying records and programs to improve State databases.
Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001 – Authorizes appropriations for: (1) grants to States and local governments to support prosecutions in high gun crime areas; (2) establishment of up to 100 additional Project EXILE programs; (3) additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents; (4) gun tracing and youth crime gun interdiction; and (5) grants to research entities developing technologies that limit the use of a gun to the owner.
So McCain isn't using bipartisan give and take to strike down provisions of the Brady law, he's the Conservative catspaw advancing more gun control goodies than a lefty like Chuck Shumer could ever dream of sponsoring himself. What's going on here?
McCain Supports Defacto Amnesty – The Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill
The Daily Kos has a summary of the major titles here for easy reference. Senator McCain sponsored this bill. His list of co-sponsors is telling. Barrack Obama, Teddy Kennedy, his good pal Joe Lieberman (again), and John Kerry are the standouts on this bill that amounts to an immediate amnesty, and an opening of the floodgates for low-skill workers.
The 2005 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill would add a low skill visa program known as H4A visa, and allocate 400,000 "low skill" visas a year, the first year, with provision to adjust the number up or down based on demand. As if this isn't bad enough, Title VII of the bill, creates and grants a new H5B visa to aliens, and I quote: "not legally present in the United States on the date on which the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act was introduced." Read it again, only illegal aliens can get the H5B visa. Poof, they are now legal, can keep working, get in line for a Green Card, and need only make a one-time trip home to present themselves at a US Consulate and pay $500. Amnesty.
The remainder of the bill continues to show McCain's belief that government has all the answers, if only we add enough market-like mechanisms to the bureaucracy, create Orwellian new people-tracking schemes, stand up vast new government foundations, and broaden the authority of existing agencies. Here are the rest of the highlights from the Summary (emphasis mine):
Requires the Commissioner of Social Security to create a new Employment Eligibility Confirmation System.
Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to address the collection of arrival and departure information.
Broadens the Department of Labor’s investigative authority under INA.
Authorizes the Secretary of State to enter into an agreement with foreign governments whose citizens participate in the H-5A program to establish a labor migration facilitation program.
Authorizes the Secretary to establish the U.S. Citizenship Foundation.
McCain embraces a Big Government Answer to Global Warming – The McCain–Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act
Again, we see McCain's worldview of the Federal Government as the answer to all of humankind's problems, if we could just set it up to act like the free market. This bill is very telling.
First, it funds all sorts of bureaucratic R&D efforts that assume an implicit hypothesis I will do my best to state: global warming is real, and is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases mostly attributed to human activity. So the chances for real research that validate global warming, its causes, and humankinds' role in them are practically zero, since any researchers submitting grant proposals will already be vetted as Acolytes of the Church of Environmentalism.
Second, we see the use of McCain's favorite liberty-chilling device, a database to track things. In this case, the EPA is going to establish a Greenhouse Gas Database to track emissions. Third, McCain again attempts to insert free market controls into a social engineering scheme and massive free market disruption. From the Summary: "Establishes a program for market-driven reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) through the use of tradeable allowances. Requires certain covered entities that own or control a source of GHG emissions in the electric power, industrial, and commercial sectors of the U.S. economy to submit to the Administrator, beginning in 2010, one tradeable allowance for every metric ton of GHGs emitted. Allows tradeable allowances to be sold, exchanged, purchased, retired, or otherwise used as permitted by this Act."
Fourth, the bill would create a massive new energy bureaucracy to oversee the ensuing economic debacle, and no doubt serve as clearinghouse for favors to the politically connected. Again, from the summary: "Establishes the Climate Change Credit Corporation to manage tradeable allowances."
This is conservatism? Note that McCain is again advancing a leftist agenda; his co-sponsors on this bill are Joe Lieberman, Barack Obama, and Olympia Snowe. Why would any democrats cross over and vote for a fake liberal like McCain, when they can get the real thing on a Clinton or Obama ticket?
Senator McCain's Economic Illiteracy Here's a telling exchange from the MSNBC October 9th debates. (emphasis mine)
BARTIROMO: Senator McCain, has Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke cut interest rates aggressively enough? Has Ben Bernanke cut rates aggressively enough?
MCCAIN: I don't have the kind of expertise to know exactly whether he has cut interest rates sufficiently or not. And that's why we put that responsibility in the hands of the head of the Federal Reserve.
MCCAIN: I do know that this nation has faced some pretty good blows in the last month or so with the credit crunch and the subprime lending. I'm glad whenever they cut interest rates. I wish interest rates were zero. But we leave those responsibilities to the smartest people we can find, and I think that so far he's done a good job.
That John McCain claims to be a huge fiscal conservative, but fails to understand one of the most important parameters of monetary policy is terrifying.
In this debate clip, John McCain catalogs various government programs, and makes nebulous claims about using the veto pen to control spending. Let me see if I've got this straight. McCain wants a massive new energy bureaucracy to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Yeah, that won't raise the cost of energy, the single most important input into our economy other than human labor. He doesn't understand how the Fed works to inflate the currency and fund the grab bag of programs he favors. Every bill referenced above has included the creation of a massive new federal bureaucracy; where does he think the money will come from?
Senator McCain – Clintonian Global Interventionist
McCain hasn't met a war he doesn't like. When the Republicans were arguing for restraint in Bosnia and Kosovo, McCain was there backing Clinton, ready to intervene. In a recent speech, rather than catalog all the many, many military actions and interventions of which the Senator has been in favor, let's concentrate on the current "Global War on Terror."
First, recall that Senator McCain and other supporters of the war have been proven completely, totally, and disastrously wrong in their basis for the war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein's Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Iraq did not harbor the 9-11 terrorists. How Senator McCain gets one shred of believability is beyond me, but rest assured it will end as soon as the Republican debates are over. In a general debate Obama or Clinton will destroy him on this issue, correctly pointing out that he… is… and… was… completely… wrong… The American people have seen through the rhetoric, and even if a fragile "peace" persists, the war is a losing issue for McCain.
Sometimes the best way to understand a position is by contrast, so here is another amazing video of Dr. Paul getting it right on Iraq, back in 2002. Not only does he denounce the war, since "Iraq poses no threat to the United States," but notes that pre-emptive war is an incredibly dangerous concept, and this aggression would be unique in American history. Finally, he correctly notes that Iraq is an impoverished third-world nation with no Air Force or Navy, that hasn't hit a single one of our fighters enforcing the UN no fly zone, even after thousands of sorties.
As you're considering what man would be best Commander in Chief, recall that McCain has been disastrously wrong, as have most of the Republicans, and only Dr. Paul got it right at the outset. Rather than admit his error, and get out of Iraq, McCain is fine keeping US troops there for 100 years. Setting aside the grievous moral error of invading Iraq, the American people are war weary. The mid-term elections are a clear repudiation of the war. Any candidate, but especially one like McCain whose support of the invasion has been unwavering, has no chance in the general election.
Summary – A Big Government Republican Will Not Win the Presidency
The Democrats are going to turn out the vote for Obama or Clinton, probably Obama. To win a modern election, a Republican needs to carry most of these constituencies: The Republican "base" in Red States, Evangelicals, the Gun Lobby, libertarians, independents, and Blue Dog Democrats in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. Other than the straight Republican ticket base, McCain has no ability to energize significant portions of the remaining groups, and based on his legislative track record, speeches, and debate performance has alienated significant portions of them. A vote for McCain in the primaries is a vote for Hillary in the general election.
January 16, 2008