The McCain Campaign is as bankrupt as Iceland, AIG, and Lehman Brothers, but the McCain bankruptcy is not financial in nature. John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the slander-squad are bankrupt in the ideas department, as they promised America a solution, and give us instead the same politics of smear, albeit repackaged for the fourth time in a few months. The McCain team is morally, and ethically bankrupt as well, as they scrape the bottom of the barrel of lies that they have been mining for months now. The only thing in question is if McCain is even in charge of his own campaign. Liberals and centrists are becoming more angry at McCain, while pundits from the right are split between those making callow, empty apologia for McCain's performance and the more honest conservatives who admit that he has either lost it or was never equal to the task to begin with.
We were told to expect a major new economic address from both of the candidates today. The credit-liquidity measures passed by both parties last week were an important starting point without which any recovery would have been doomed to fail. For a few days now, we have been prepared by the campaigns for the showdown of two competing plans for how to address the rest of the problem; foreclosures, job losses, dwindling real-incomes, and an overarching set of challenges making life difficult for working families, and endangering the middle-class engine of economic growth and prosperity.
Barack Obama arrived at the podium on time, and with a fully developed recovery plan for the middle class; a plan that is fully paid-for within the framework of his overall budgetary proposals. John McCain? Well...John McCain arrived with nothing. He lied again to the American people, claiming that he would have a major recovery package, perhaps in a misguided effort to get more people to tune in to his attack-laden rehash of the same speeches he has been giving for months. I do not know whether to be angry, confused, or pleased that with just over twenty days left in the campaign, John McCain feels entitled to play games and jerk-around the American voter and the media. I know that in a McCain campaign which has been long on publicity stunts, and short on action; long on attack-ads and short on ideas for the future, that this is just what we can expect from McCain. 100% of his campaign spots on TV, radio, and the internet have been attack-ads, with the vast majority of the claims being untrue.
The plan offered-up by Senator Obama truly is a new plan, fleshing-out the promises of the Democratic Party to make sure that the majority of Americans who make up the middle class get the help that they need so that American families can not only get by, but hopefully get ahead again. Beyond the fact that it is the fair and right thing to do, the even larger reason that the Obama plan is so important to middle class families AND to everyone else, is because those families are the true engines of the economy. John McCain loves to say "I never got a job from a poor person." What he means by that is that we need to give the rich a free ride so they can theoretically invest in the economy...you've heard it a million times: "it will trickle down." Never mind that the theory does not hold in the real world, and that it is really a ruse designed to excuse a tax code that punishes the rest of us, while rewarding the rich and the multinational corporations (who by the way have been sending the money they save when we pay their share of the tax burden to China to build new factories there, and of course the jobs go along with the money, that is the problem: we send the money up to the top, and it trickles down in China, or Mexico, or anywhere but here).
What we need to remind John McCain of, along with his billionaire buddies, is that nobody ever got a job from a rich person who didn't get that way by having customers who could afford to buy their product, and frankly, I know plenty of small businessmen and women who create jobs, without ever getting rich -- they get by and hope to get ahead, IF they are lucky, and smart, and work hard, AND have a government that HELPS, not hurts. Under an Obama administration, we found out in specific detail, we will have such a government; one that rewards job creation at home, not offshore, and gives an much-needed break to the rest of us, not just a handout for the richest of us.
Obama's plan to stabilize and turn-around the economy for the middle class would impose a 90-day moratorium on the threat of foreclosure for homeowners who are trying "in good faith" to keep up with repayments to a lender benefiting from the Wall Street bailout passed by Congress. Another key point of the plan would permit families to withdraw up to 10,000 dollars from their retirement accounts penalty-free, and create a new lending facility for states and localities to have access to funds beyond the frozen credit markets; hopefully preventing massive layoffs across the U.S. that have been planned as a result of the credit freeze. The 90-day foreclosure moratorium, combined with the ability to access one's own tax-free retirement accounts should enable a great many families to get that little extra bit of time and liquidity so that they are able to keep their home and pay-off their mortgage; something that will pay obvious dividends for the homeowners, for the lenders, and for all of us, as stopping the epidemic of foreclosures will help stabilize home values before they drop down any further.
Asked if the new plan would alter the other parts of Obama's overall proposal, specifically the tax-cuts for ordinary Americans, one of Obama's economic advisers, Jason Furman commented that: "Senator Obama believes he can't afford NOT to keep his promise to cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families." This is a recognition by Obama that the tax cuts for ordinary Americans is not just pandering, it is an integral part of getting the economy back in gear just as much as it is direct tax-relief for families. In addition to the tax-cuts announced by Obama earlier in the campaign, the new recovery plan for working people and small businesses would extend a temporary tax credit of 3,000 dollars for each new job created in the United States by firms over the next two years.
Clearly Barack Obama is not only campaigning better than John McCain, he is also making more public appearances and doing so much more effectively in spite of McCain's attempt to portray Obama as taking a win for granted. He also is thinking more clearly, and leading his team much more effectively. The truth is that Barack Obama has simultaneously been the visible leader of his campaign effort, and the leader of a well-coordinated policy team that has turned-out consistently good ideas. On the other side, John McCain's campaign has been like a rudderless ship, as both campaign strategy and policy plans have gone through a dizzying series of flip-flops, staff-turnover, infighting, and second-guessing. Indeed, even among McCain's defenders, a common answer to the chorus of criticism of his campaign has been that if McCain were himself he would do better, which begs the question: If McCain is not himself, then who is he being? Who is in charge? Who is accountable?
There is no clear answer to any of those questions, which should say a lot about the lack of leadership from McCain himself; in a Presidential campaign it should be clear that the candidate is the one in charge of the staff and not the other way around. There is only one person steering the ship in the Obama campaign, and that person is Barack Obama, who has masterfully navigated through numerous minefields, stayed on the subject of the issues that matter, and gotten the best out of every one of his advisers -- without forgetting that they work for him, not the other way around. Do we want to elect a candidate who has shown a tendency to panic, and make wild swings in his policy ideas as McCain has done? Or do we want someone like Obama who is steady and stable, without sacrificing the dynamism and strength that have gotten him this far? These questions I DO know the answer to.
No matter what you think about the policies (assuming McCain ever figures out what his economic policies will be) the fact remains: if McCain cannot lead a staff of supporters, how can he lead a nation? If McCain cannot focus on a campaign while contending with an economy, this does not bode well for his ability to lead in times as demanding and complex as these. The President of the United States does not handle every little piece of business, but it is essential that the President is able to keep track of many issues at the same time. It is imperative that the Chief Executive be able to see the big picture, and manage the details, all while exhibiting leadership and inspiring confidence at home and displaying a command of the situation to the world. If the last 20 months have not shown us which candidate fits the bill, then I don't know what would. Barack Obama has grown immensely as a leader over these months, while McCain has only grown shakier. While Obama has won over people from all backgrounds, and all around the world, John McCain is now losing the confidence of his core supporters, and is referred to with anxiety as a dysfunctional candidate by his own party (and no, that is not due to his "maverick" act). We are given a chance to save the American dream this election, to reverse a disastrous course, and together, back away from the abyss that we face. Can we afford not to make the most of the opportunity that we have now? Can we afford NOT to elect Barack Obama? If you still don't know it yet, the answer to THAT question is... NO.
ELECT BARACK OBAMA -- 11/4/08 -- YES WE CAN!!