WU house divided:RJ McGuire’s Take

RJ McGuire

The first Presidential Debate was very telling, if you could read between the lines. Pundits seemed to suggest that Obama did better in the economic portion of the debate and that McCain won the part dealing with foreign relations. My first reaction was to agree with the pundits, and to give Obama the win; but then I read the transcripts (and between the lines).

When asked about the bailout, Obama blamed the crisis on Bush, the Republicans, de-regulation and “trickle-down” economics. McCain on the other hand, took the opportunity to praise the bipartisanship that had been taking place in Washington. This is a clear distinction; Obama played the blame game, while McCain celebrated bipartisanship. It led to one of my favorite quotes of the night, “Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.” McCain has a 20 year record of reaching across the aisle.

When asked a second time if he favored the plan, Obama dodged the question again. He told us that he had warned about the subprime lending mess and that he had even written to the Treasury Secretary about his concerns in 2007. In 2005, McCain on the other hand, actually co-sponsored legislation that was designed to place more regulation on Freddie and Fannie and to end “golden parachutes” for CEO’s. He gave a speech on the Senate floor stating, “If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.” McCain’s mantra for the night was “accountability.” Obama responded that accountability needs to be done all the time, not just in times of crisis. McCain was calling for reform of Freddie, Fannie and Wall Street both before Obama and before the crisis.

When asked about the fundamental differences between their approaches to the financial crisis McCain said that he would bring spending under control, something that conservatives have long been disappointed with the Bush administration over. He mentioned the $932 million dollars in earmarks that Obama requested in his first three years. Now, if every member of the Senate was as greedy as Obama, the $18 million in earmarks that McCain complains about would skyrocket to $93 billion! McCain has never asked for, or received, an earmark for his state. McCain went on to point out that while Obama has proposed massive tax cuts he is simultaneously proposing some $800 billion in new programs.

Lehrer picked up on the discrepancies in Obama’s tax and spending policies. He asked both candidates what they would have to give up, in terms of their priorities, due to the troubled economy and the proposed bailout. Obama admitted that there was no way to do all of the things he would like, but then listed five things he would increase spending on. McCain said he would cut spending across the board and institute a “spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.” He gave specific examples over and over again on how he would rein in spending. Obama could offer none. Obama doesn’t get it; we can’t pay for his big ideas. The best idea he could come up with is ending the war in Iraq so we could use that $10 billion per month. There are two problems with this cop-out; one, the money spent on Iraq is borrowed (is Obama going to borrow more from China to pay for his plans?) and two, he is advocating scaling up the war in Afghanistan (where does this money come from?).

When asked a fourth time which priorities he would be willing to give up, Obama again skirted the question and simply engaged in class warfare and scare tactics by attacking McCain’s tax credits.

More than once, Obama was forced to agree with McCain’s stances and was left to make minor distinctions. In fact, Obama’s number one line just might have been “Sen. McCain’s absolutely right”; I counted at least twelve times in the debate where Obama conceded that his opponent was right on an issue.

So once you get past all of Obama’s lofty speeches and read between the lines, you see that he didn’t win the economic portion of the debate. He isn’t Change. He is just another partisan. He is promising things which he admits he can’t deliver; he leaves us to guess which ones are empty promises, and which ones are actually realistic. You can vote on Hope if you want, I’m voting for Experience at Change.