John McCain on Budget & Economy

Republican nominee for President; Senior Senator (AZ)


Obama's new spending is committing generational theft

In his debates with Hayworth and Deakin,, McCain accused the president of "committing generational theft" as a result of new spending, and pronounced himself proud to have led the fight against "Obama-care," vowing to "repeal and replace" it next year.
Source: Vanity Fair on 2010 Arizona Senate Republican Primary Debate , Nov 1, 2010

Proposed firing SEC chairman for 2008 economic crisis

On Sep. 5, 2008, Lehman Brothers announced the largest bankruptcy in American history. It triggered a financial panic that would provide Obama and McCain with a real-time test of leadership--an extraordinary 10-day period that would more or less decide the election.

McCain said, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times." In his maladroit way, McCain was trying to heed the advice of his chief economic adviser, not to talk down the economy; that its underlying strength--its workers, its factories--was intact. McCain, indeed, had uttered the same line before and it had gone unnoticed. But in the context of Lehman, "fundamentals" was a gaffe of historic proportions.

After the bailout had been announced, he flipped to reluctantly supporting it. The day after that, he attacked SEC chairman Chris Cox, saying, "If I were president today, I would fire him." Only to have it pointed out that no president, real or hypothetical, has that power.

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.378-380 , Jan 11, 2010

We’ve laid a $10 trillion debt on our young people

Q: What’s the fastest solution to bail people out of economic ruin?

McCAIN: We obviously have to stop this spending spree that’s going on in Washington. Do you know that we’ve laid a $10 trillion debt on young Americans, $500 billion of it we owe to China? We’ve got to have a package of reforms and it has got to lead to reform prosperity and peace in the world. And I think that this problem has become so severe, that we’re going to have to do something about home values.

OBAMA: It’s not enough just to help those at the top. Prosperity is not just going to trickle down. We’ve got to help the middle class. Part of the problem is that for many of you, wages and incomes have flat-lined. For many of you, it is getting harder and harder to save, harder and harder to retire. Sen. McCain is right that we’ve got to stabilize housing prices. But underlying that is loss of jobs and loss of income. That’s something that the next treasury secretary is going to have to work on.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

Energy independence & tax cuts for all

Q: What’s your plan to save people from financial ruin?

McCAIN: I have a plan to fix this problem and it has to do with energy independence. We’ve got to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us. We have to keep Americans’ taxes low. All Americans’ taxes low.

OBAMA: This is a verdict on the failed policies of the last eight years that said that we should strip away consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down. Step one was a rescue package that means making sure taxpayers get their money back. The middle-class need a rescue package. That means tax cuts for the middle-class. It means help for homeowners. It means we are helping state governments set up projects that keep people in their jobs. We’ve got to fix our health care system, we’ve got to fix our energy system. You’ve got to have somebody in Washington who is thinking about the middle class and not just those who can afford to hire lobbyists.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

Stabilize mortgage industry so people stay in their homes

Q: Which parts of the $700B bailout will help people?

McCAIN: This rescue package means we will stabilize markets, we will shore up these institutions. But it’s not enough. That’s why we’re going to have to go out into the housing market and buy up these bad loans and we’re going to have to stabilize home values, and that way, Americans can realize the American dream and stay in their home.

OBAMA: Let me tell you what’s in the rescue package for you. Right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means is that small businesses can’t get loans. If they can’t get a loan, that means that they can’t make payroll. If they can’t make payroll, then they may end up having to shut their doors and lay people off. And if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country. So it could end up having an adverse effect on everybody, and that’s why we had to take action. But we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

Cut down on earmarks & establish priorities

Q: What economic sacrifices will Americans have to make?

McCAIN: Some of those programs may not grow as much as we would like for them to, but we can establish priorities with full consultation, not done behind closed doors and shoving earmarks in the middle of the night that we don’t even know about until months later.

OBAMA: Each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy. And one of the things I want to do is make sure we’re providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that’s made right here in the US, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

I have fought against excessive spending my entire career

Q: Are you willing to acknowledge that this financial crisis is going to affect the way you rule the country, as president?

A: We have to obviously cut spending. I have fought to cut spending. We can adjust spending around to take care of the very much-needed programs including taking care of our veterans. A healthy economy with low taxes, with not raising anyone’s taxes, is probably the best recipe for eventually having our economy recover. And spending restraint has got to be a vital part of that. One of the major reasons why we’re in the difficulties we’re in today is because spending got out of control. We owe China $500 billion. And spending can be brought under control because I have fought against excessive spending my entire career. And I’ve got plans to reduce and eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending. If there’s anybody here who thinks there aren’t agencies of government where spending can be cut and their budget slashed, they have not spent a lot of time in Washington.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain , Sep 26, 2008

Can’t pass trillions of dollars of debt to our children

Government has grown by 60 percent in the last eight years, because the Congress and this administration have failed to meet their responsibilities. Next year, total federal expenditures are predicted to reach over $3 trillion. That is an awful lot for us to be spending when this nation is already more than $9 trillion in debt--or more than $30,000 in debt for every citizen. That’s a debt our government plans to leave for your children and mine to bear. That is a failure not only of financial foresight, but of moral obligation. It won’t be today’s politicians who suffer the consequences. It will be American workers and their children who are left with worthless promises and trillion-dollar debts. We cannot let that happen. I’ll order a top-to-bottom review of every federal program, department, and agency. We’re going to demand accountability. We’re going to make sure failed programs are not rewarded and that discretionary spending is going to essential priorities.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention , Jul 12, 2008

GovWatch: Specified cuts are $10B, not $100B

McCain said on May 12, “I can eliminate $100 billion of wasteful and earmark spending immediately--$35 billion in big spending bills in the last two years, and another $65 billion that has already been made a permanent part of the budget.”

First of all the suspiciously round $100 billion figure is largely a figment of the McCain campaign’s imagination. Not a single independent budget expert would vouch for it. McCain’s economics adviser says it is an extrapolation from various studies, including a 2006 study by the Congressional Research Service, which identifies a total of $52 billion in earmarks. However, much of this money is tied to items such as foreign aid to countries like Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, that McCain says he will not touch.

Excluding those programs McCain has promised to preserve, the draconian slashing of earmark expenditures might save around $10 billion a year. But that is still a long way from the $100 billion that McCain says that he can identify “immediately.”

Source: GovWatch on 2008: Washington Post analysis , May 23, 2008

1980s Keating Five: biggest financial scandal in US history

McCain became known as one of the "Keating Five," senators caught up in one of the biggest financial scandals in American history.

When the real estate market crashed in the late 1980s, many S&Ls crashed along with it, leaving the taxpayers to pick up the tab. Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan was among the biggest speculators--and also the biggest of the flameouts, costing $2.6 billion in taxpayer funds.

The investigations and reports that followed landed McCain and four other senators--Democrats Dennis DeConcini (AZ), Alan Cranston (CA), John Glenn (OH), and Donald Riegle (MI)--on the front page, their mug shots accompanied by dollar figures showing the amount Keating had raised for them over the years. Between 1982 and 1987, the five senators received a total of $1.4 million in campaign contributions and gifts from Keating. Asked at a press conference if his contributions had bought him influence, Keating replied, "I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so."

Source: Free Ride, by David Brock and Paul Waldman, p. 49-51 , Mar 25, 2008

Things are tough now, but we’re better off than in 2000

Q: Are Americans better off than they were eight years ago?

A: You could argue that Americans overall are better off, because we have had a pretty good prosperous time, with low unemployment and low inflation and a lot of good things have happened. A lot of jobs have been created. But let’s have some straight talk. Things are tough right now. Americans are uncertain about this housing crisis. Americans are uncertain about the economy, as we see the stock market bounce up and down. But I think what we’re trying to do to fix this economy is important. We’ve got to address the subprime housing problem. We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which I voted for twice to do so. I think we need to eliminate the alternate minimum tax.

A: I think we are better off overall if you look at the entire eight-year period, when you look at the millions of jobs that have been created, the improvement in the economy, etc.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

May have to go further to fix the subprime lending situation

Q: Do you have a plan to help people with bad credit get lower interest rates so they can keep those homes and avoid foreclosure?

A: Yes, and it’s tough here in California, it’s tough in Arizona, it’s tough particularly all over, but it’s very tough particularly in the high growth states. The efforts that have been made so far are laudable. We may have to go further, but the fact that the FHA and the other organizations of government under Secretary Paulson’s direction, and he is doing a good job of sitting down and fixing at least a significant number of these problems. We’ve got to return to the principal that you don’t lend money that can’t pay it back. There’s some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished. There’s got to be a huge amount more of transparency as to how this whole thing came about so we can prevent it from happening again. If necessary, we’re going to have to take additional actions and particularly in cleaning up a mortgage.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

Recession is partly psychological and not inevitable

A mortgage should be one page and there should be big letters at the bottom that says, “I understand this document.” We ought to adjust the mortgages so people who were eligible for better terms, but were somehow convinced to accept the mortgages which were more onerous on them. We need to fix the rating systems, which clearly were erroneous in their ratings, which led people to believe that there were these institutions which were stable, which clearly were not. We may have to take further steps if this subprime lending situation continues to be serious. Part of the problem in any recession is psychological. I’m still optimistic that nothing is inevitable. I still rely on the innovation and the talent of the US. But we’ve got to make the tax cuts permanent. We need to get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax. We need to give people a depreciation in one year for their business and investment. We need to encourage research and development and tax credits that are associated with it.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

I’m well-versed in economics; I was at the Reagan Revolution

Q: Is it a problem for your campaign that the economy is now the most important issue, one that, by your own acknowledgement, you are not well versed on?

A: Actually, I don’t know where you got that quote from. I’m very well versed in economics. I was there at the Reagan Revolution. I was there just after we enacted the first tax cuts and the restraints on spending. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, which addresses virtually every major economic issue that affects the US. I’m very well versed on economics. That’s why I have a strong team around me that respect my views and my vision. And that’s why The Wall Street Journal, in a survey of economists recently, that the majority of economists thought that I could handle the nation’s economy best. And I have been a consistent fighter to restrain spending and to cut taxes. And my credentials & my experience & my knowledge of these economic issues, I think, are extensive. And I would match them against anybody who’s running.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

FactCheck: Said--then denied--he needed economics education

McCain cast doubt on moderator Tim Russert’s assertion that the candidate had said he was no expert on economics. Russert claimed that McCain had repeatedly said, “I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” McCain responded, “Actually, I don’t know where you got that quote from. I’m very well-versed in economics.”

Russert’s quote comes from a 2005 interview with the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 26, 2005: “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.”

We could not find that McCain has said that quote “repeatedly,” but he has made similar comments recently The Chicago Tribune quoted McCain talking to reporters on Dec. 18, 2007: “The issue of economics is something that I’ve really never understood as well as I should. I understand the basics, the fundamentals, the vision, all that kind of stuff.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

Will be able to reduce war costs & have a stable Middle East

Q: You would leave troops in Iraq for an indefinite period. How will you do this, both militarily & economically?

A: I know of no military leader, including Gen. Petraeus, who says we can’t sustain our effort in Iraq. So you’re wrong. The fact is, we are succeeding in Iraq. We’re going back down to previous levels, and we will be able to withdraw troops over time if we succeed. We have American troops all over the world today & nobody complains about it because we’re defending freedom That’s one of the obligations of being the world’s superpower. I’m proud to adopt the strategy that is succeeding, and that’s happened. I’m the only one that said that. It is succeeding. We will be able to reduce our costs, and we will be able to have a stable Middle East, where our vital national interests, national security interests are at stake. I’m so proud of the job that the men and women in the military are doing there, and they don’t want us to raise the white flag of surrender.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

Reform insurance to cover violent weather patterns

As more and more violent weather patterns take place, people’s homes are more and more in jeopardy. We can address it regionally. We can address it with the governors and the legislatures working with the federal government to have insurance spread across state lines, increasing the risk pool. We can reform insurance. I will call the regulators, the governors and the legislators and work together to provide every American that’s in jeopardy to have the insurance that they need and deserve.
Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

To avoid recession, stop out-of-control spending

Q: If we’re talking about a recession in the next few months, in 2008, what kind of short-term, more immediate government fixes would you propose to try to keep the slowdown diminished or to reverse it? And would you support them even if they added to th government deficit?

A: The first thing we need to do is stop the out-of-control spending. Out-of-control spending is what caused the interest rates to rise. It causes people to be less able to afford to own their own homes. We need to stop the spending And the way we can get our budget under control is to have strong, fundamental fiscal underpinnings. The second thing that we need to do, of course, is stop spending $400 billion a year overseas to oil-producing countries that come right out of our economy immediately. Some of that money goes, unfortunately, to fund terrorist organizations. We’ve got to develop technologies to reduce this dependency on foreign oil, and eventually eliminate it, and stop this outflow of some $400 billion a year.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in S.C. sponsored by Fox News , Jan 10, 2008

Loss of economic strength leads to losing military strength

Q: Does our country’s financial situation creates a security risk?

A: Of course, any nation that no longer has economic strength sooner or later will lose its military strength, so it’s a national security issue. We have many trillions of dollars of unfunded liability. Obviously, we’ve been on a spending spree. If oil reaches $100 a barrel, which many people think it may, $400 billion of America treasure will go to oil-producing countries. Some of those monies will go to terrorist organizations.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate , Dec 12, 2007

Republicans have forgotten how to control spending

Q: Have Republicans forgotten how to control spending?

A: Absolutely. We let spending lurch completely out of control. As president of the United States, I’d take an old veto pen that Ronald Reagan gave me, and I’d veto every single pork barrel bill that comes across my desk. And we’ve got to stop it and stop it now. I look forward to it.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida , Nov 28, 2007

AdWatch: Outrageous to spend $233M for bridge to nowhere

[McCain ad, “Outrageous,” which began running Nov. 12]

ANNOUNCER: $233 million for a bridge to nowhere. Outrageous. $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Unbelievable. A million dollars for a Woodstock museum in a bill sponsored by Hillary Clinton. Predictable. Who has the guts to stand up to wasteful government spending? One man, John McCain.

McCAIN: I’ll stop wasteful spending by Congress and restore Americans’ trust in their government. I’m John McCain and I approve this message.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Outrageous” , Nov 20, 2007

FactCheck:Bridge-to-Nowhere never built; would serve 200,000

McCain’s TV ad cites “$233 million for a bridge to nowhere,” calling the cost “outrageous.” Funding for the “bridge to nowhere,” also known as the Gravina Island bridge in Alaska, was tacked on to a 2005 transportation bill.

Whether it was truly a “bridge to nowhere” is debatable: Gravina Island, while it has almost no permanent population, is also home to the Ketchikan International Airport, which processes about 200,000 passengers a year. Alaskan officials hoped that the bridge would simplify airport access and allow development on Gravina. The bridge was not the only or the most expensive project attached to the transportation bill, and it may not have been the most frivolous. But it became a symbol for government pork.

In light of the furor over the “bridge to nowhere,” Alaska’s governor opted to use the money for other pursuits. The bridge was never built, but McCain has been using it as his prime pork example since 2005.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Outrageous” , Nov 20, 2007

FactCheck: Criticized “Woodstock museum,” but skipped vote

One earmark McCain highlights in his TV ad is $1 million for a Woodstock museum, which, he mentions not-so-subtly, was proposed by Sen. Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender. The earmark would have allotted $1 million to New York state’s Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, future site of a museum celebrating the 1969 Woodstock music festival and its effect on American culture.

But McCain wasn’t present for the vote on an amendment he co-sponsored to remove the stipulated funding for the museum and reroute about a third of it to maternal and child health services. He was out on the campaign trail.

It’s true, as the McCain campaign points out, that McCain’s vote would not have changed the outcome. Still, we wonder whether voters might have a different view of McCain’s ridiculing of the museum not just in this ad but in two others, as well as a presidential debate, if they knew of his absence for the key votes.

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Outrageous” , Nov 20, 2007

Congress spends money like a drunken sailor

We lost the election in 2006 because we lost our way. We began to value principle over power, and spending got out of control. Spending lurched completely out of control. Ronald Reagan used to say, we spend money like a drunken sailor. I never knew a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination of the Congress. I received an e-mail recently from a guy who said, “As a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress.”
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Consistent conservative voting on free-market principles

For someone whom critics characterized as insufficiently conservative in the 2000 Republican primary, McCain compiled a domestic voting record in the House that reflected a standard, and highly consistent, conservative record. In this, he was no different from any other sun-belt conservative, espousing a fairly predictable line on a range of issues which hung together, perhaps loosely, but which hung together nonetheless.

He was on the right-hand side of most "values" issues--at a time when they had NOT been endorsed by Democrats. In economic policies, McCain's priorities also revealed the same type of free-market principles as Phil Gramm of Texas, "Boll Weevil" Democrat-turned-Republican, who moved from the House to the Senate in the early 1980s and would continue to be one of McCain's closest allies, even though they diverged on campaign finance reform and tobacco legislation.

Source: John McCain: An Essay, by John Karaagac, p.148 , Sep 20, 2000

FactCheck: Obama’s new programs cost $286B; McCain’s $211B

McCain claimed, “Do you know that Sen. Obama is proposing $860 billion of new spending now? New spending.” That’s based on a McCain campaign estimate of how much Obama’s new proposals will cost, without figuring in any savings or reductions in spending. Any increase in funding and any created program counts as “new spending” in this estimate, whether or not it is offset by decreases in spending elsewhere.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has found that both Obama and McCain are proposing combinations of tax and spending policies that would increase the federal deficit. It found that in 2013, Obama’s proposals would produce a net deficit increase of $286 billion, while McCain’s major policies would produce a net deficit increase of between $167 billion and $259 billion. In talking to CNN, the CRFB President estimated that McCain’s deficit increase would fall midway between the extremes of that range, at $211 billion.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 second presidential debate , Oct 7, 2008

Use veto power to reduce government spending

McCAIN [to Bush]: You seem to depict the role of the president as a hapless bystander. [Clinton] is threatening to shut down the government and vetoing bills to force the congress to spend more money. An active president, i.e. me, will veto bills and threaten to shut down the government to make them spend less money.

Bush: It’s the president’s job to make sure Congress doesn’t have the money to spend in the first place. It is the president’s job to stand up to express the will of the people, advocate and fight for a meaningful real tax cut. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Source: (X-ref to Bush) GOP Debate in Manchester NH , Jan 26, 2000

Distribute surplus: 23% tax cuts; 62% Social Security

McCain says he would dedicate just 23% of [the federal budget surplus] to a tax-cutting plan. For the rest of the surplus, McCain says 62% would bolster Social Security, 10% would go to Medicare, and 5% would pay down the national debt. “John McCain has never voted for a tax increase, but he thinks saving Social Security is the issue,” McCain’s campaign manager said.
Source: Associated Press, in The Enterprise (Brockton MA), p. A9 , Jan 4, 2000

$9B of pork in current budget bills; cut subsidies

McCain said he has found at least “$9 billion worth of pork and wasteful spending” in the appropriations bills now being considered by Congress that could fill the budget gaps. He specified subsidies for oil, ethanol and sugar as examples. “Congress has found the funds to raise their own salaries but they can’t find enough to help and lower and middle-income Americans,” said McCain.
Source: Will Lester, AP/LA Times , Oct 1, 1999

For Balanced Budget Amend., & off-budget Social Security

McCain was one of only two Republicans who voted twice, in 1995 and again in 1997, to take Social Security “off-budget” - removing it from balanced budget calculations as part of a constitutional balanced budget amendment - which would have prevented the government from filling the trust fund with “IOU’s”.
Source: McCain for President web Site , Jul 2, 1999

List of budgetary spending priorities

Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

Supports Balanced Budget Amendment

McCain supports amending the US Constitution to require an annual balanced federal budget.
Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

Apply surplus to Social Security, Medicare, tax cuts & debt

Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Jul 2, 1998

John McCain on Financial Bailout

OpEd: Financial crisis gave best chance for 2008 comeback

John McCain wanted me to convene a White House meeting on the rescue package. He was on TV, suspending his campaign to work full-time on the legislation.

No question the economic trouble was hurting John. Our party controlled the White House, so we were the natural target of the finger-pointing. Yet I thought the financial crisis gave John his best chance to mount a comeback. In periods of crisis, voters value experience and judgment over youth and charisma. By handling the challenge in a statesmanlike way, John could make the case that he was the better candidate for the times.

When Obama finished, I turned to John McCain. He passed. I was puzzled. He had called for this meeting. I assumed he would come prepared to outline a way to get the bill passed. What had started as a drama quickly descended into a farce.

Toward the end of the meeting, John talked in general terms about the difficulty of the vote for Republican members and his hope that we could reach a consensus.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.460-462 , Nov 9, 2010

OpEd: could have single-handedly killed the bailout

When John McCain "suspended" his presidential campaign to come back to Washington in the midst of the crisis, he could have single-handedly killed the bailout.

"I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time," McCain told the press. "We much meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved."

Instead, both he and Democrat nominee Barack Obama essentially rubber-stamped the wishes of Congress and the White House. It was an opportunity tailor-made for the Maverick to stand on good policy and political ground by taking on both Wall Street's bad actors and the political corruption of the housing market. It was, we believe, a unique opportunity for the sinking Republican ticket to revive its standing with the American people and distinguish itself from a discredited Republican establishment. But that didn't happen, and the McCain campaign never recovered.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 48 , Aug 17, 2010

2008 financial bailout bill: GOP gets blamed if it fails

In the economic crisis of mid-2008, McCain and his advisers grappled with how to respond to the Paulson plan and to the crisis more broadly. In other circumstances, a massive federal bailout bill would be the kind of thing McCain would oppose on instinct and on principle.

Casting about for salvation, McCain briefly latched on to the idea of joining forces with Senator Clinton on a piece of legislation she'd introduced to ameliorate the epidemic of foreclosures that were plaguing the housing market. Impulsively, McCain grabbed his cell phone and called her; two minutes later he hung up and told the group, "She doesn't want to do it." There seemed only one plausible route to survival: McCain had to fly to Washington and stitch together a passable bill. "It's a big risk," McCain mused. "It's a big gamble." But gradually he warmed to the notion. McCain's instinct was to charge straight at it and try to solve it. He started thinking, "I can do this. I can cut this deal."

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.383 , Jan 11, 2010

Suspended campaign to call Sep. 2008 economic summit

McCain was headed for the high-stakes gathering he'd requested. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room. Obama took the floor and held forth for 5 or 6 minutes. "Can I hear from Senator McCain?" Obama asked, as if he really were running the session.

McCain's chagrin reflected another bedrock miscalculation in his decision to suspend his campaign. The premise of the strategy was that McCain could return to the capital and play the above-the-fray bipartisan dealmaker. But in any election year, the fray is boundless. Democrats lustily tore McCain from limb to limb and Republicans were mute

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.387-389 , Jan 11, 2010

Americans are innocent victims of Wall Street greed

Q: Sen. McCain, to address the economic crisis, you proposed a $52 billion plan that includes new tax cuts on capital gains, tax breaks for seniors, write-offs for stock losses, among other things. Comments?

McCAIN: Americans are hurting right now, and they’re angry. They’re hurting, and they’re angry. They’re innocent victims of greed and excess on Wall Street and as well as Washington, D.C. And they’re angry, and they have every reason to be angry. But we also have to have a short-term fix, in my view, and long- term fixes [as you outlined about my plan].

OBAMA: The fundamentals of the economy were weak even before this latest crisis. Sen. McCain and I agree that we’ve got to help homeowners. I disagree with Sen. McCain in how to do it, because the way Sen. McCain has designed his plan, it could be a giveaway to banks if we’re buying full price for mortgages that now are worth a lot less.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 15, 2008

$300B to buy up home mortgages; put a floor under it

The catalyst for this housing crisis was the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that caused subprime lending situation that now caused the housing market in America to collapse. I am convinced that, until we reverse this continued decline in home ownership and put a floor under it, and so that people have not only the hope and belief they can stay in their homes and realize the American dream, but that value will come up.

Now, we have allocated $750 billion. Let’s take $300 billion of that and go in and buy those home loan mortgages and negotiate with those people in their homes, 11 million homes or more, so that they can afford to pay the mortgage, stay in their home.

Now, I know the criticism: what about the citizen that paid their mortgage payments? It doesn’t help that person if their next door neighbor’s house is abandoned. And so we’ve got to reverse this. We ought to put the homeowners first. And I am disappointed that Secretary Paulson and others have not made that their first priority.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: $300B mortgage plan shifts burden to taxpayers

The Statement:Obama said that McCain’s plan to stem the mortgage meltdown “could be a giveaway to banks if we’re buying full price for mortgages that now are worth a lot less. And we don’t want to waste taxpayer money.”

The Facts: On his Web site, McCain calls it “an American Homeownership Resurgence Plan.” Under his plan, the government would buy up some troubled mortgages at their full value--meaning the lenders would not take a loss. The government would then renegotiate those mortgages, so that eligible homeowners would be paying rates based on their homes’ current, reduced value. The McCain campaign says the plan would cost about $300 billion: “Funds provided by Congress in the recent financial market stabilization bill can be used for this purpose.”

The Verdict: True. The McCain campaign acknowledges the plan would shift the burden to taxpayers.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 third presidential debate , Oct 15, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, “fundamentals are strong” but “threatened”

The Statement:Biden said, “At 9 AM on Sept. 15th, when the bottom started to fall out of the market, McCain said ‘the fundamentals of the economy are strong.’ At 11 AM that morning, he said, ‘There’s a great economic crisis.’ Lurching from one view to another in a matter of hours is not what presidents do.”

The Facts:On Sept. 15, at 9 AM, McCain said: “There’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets. I think still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times.“ About 3 hours later, McCain said: ”We’re going to put an end to the abuses on Wall Street that have resulted in the crisis that we are seeing unfold today.“ At the same event, McCain said, ”The American workers, those are the fundamentals of America & I think they’re strong. But those fundamentals are being threatened today because of greed & corruption on Wall Street.“

The Verdict: Misleading. Biden takes some of McCain’s remarks out of context.

Source: CNN FactCheck on 2008 presidential race , Oct 13, 2008

Buy up bad mortgages so people can stay in homes

This problem has become so severe, that we’re going to have to do something about home values. You know that home values of retirees continues to decline and people are no longer able to afford their mortgage payments. As president of the US, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes--at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

Is it expensive? Yes. But we all know, my friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy. And we’ve got to give some trust and confidence back to America.

I know how to do that, my friends. And it’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not President Bush’s proposal. But I know how to get America working again, restore our economy and take care of working Americans.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

I suspended my campaign to help resolve financial crisis

I left my campaign and suspended it to go back to Washington to make sure that there were additional protections for the taxpayer in the form of good oversight, in the form of taxpayers being the first to be paid back when our economy recovers, & a numbe of other measures.

The match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. I’ll bet you may never even have heard of them before this crisis. But they’re the ones that, with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies in Washington, that went out and made all these risky loans, gave them to people that could never afford to pay back.

Some of us stood up two years ago and said we’ve got to enact legislation to fix this. We’ve got to stop this greed and excess. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie were doing. They resisted any change. But Fannie and Freddie were the catalysts, the match that started this forest fire. There were some of us that stood up against it. There were others who took a hike.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against Barack Obama , Oct 7, 2008

FactCheck: Rescue package already has mortgage renegotiation

McCain made what he claimed was a new proposal to rescue over-mortgaged homeowners, saying “I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the diminished value of those homes... and let people stay in their homes.” McCain added, “It’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not Pres. Bush’s proposal.”

But in fact, the recently passed $700 billion rescue package already grants the treasury secretary authority to undertake just such a program. It requires the secretary to buy up troubled mortgages while considering “the need to help families keep their homes & to stabilize communities.” It also says “the Secretary shall consent to term extensions, rate reductions (or) principal write downs.”

Obama himself had urged this as the package was being considered. He said, “we should consider giving the government the authority to purchase mortgages directly instead of simply purchasing mortgage-backed securities.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 second presidential debate , Oct 7, 2008

Have no doubt about the magnitude of financial crisis

Have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. We’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street, we’re talking about failures on Main Street & people who will lose their jobs & their credits & their homes if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis probably in--certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while. We are finally seeing Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package. This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses rather than the government taking over those loans. It has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it. This isn’t the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning, if we come out with a package that will keep these institutions stable. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And we’ve got to create jobs. And one of the areas, of course, is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.
Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain , Sep 26, 2008

Recoup financial bailout cost by cutting spending

Q: What priorities would you adjust as president because of the financial bailout cost?

A: We’ve got to cut spending. We’ve let government get completely out of control. Obama has the most liberal voting record in the US Senate. It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left. The point is we need to examine every agency of government. First of all, I’d eliminate ethanol subsidies. Particularly in defense spending, we have to do away with cost-plus contracts.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain , Sep 26, 2008

Freeze on everything but Defense, Veterans & entitlements

Q: In the middle of a huge financial crisis that is yet to be resolved, how this is going to affect you not in small ways, but in major ways, and the approach you would take to the presidency.

A: How about a spending freeze on everything but Defense, Veterans Affairs and entitlement programs? We ought to seriously consider, with the exceptions of caring for our veterans, national defense and several other vital issues.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain , Sep 26, 2008

These are tough times; we need changes; so keep taxes low

Q: Senator Obama quoted you with saying that the fundamentals of the economy are strong, that it has made great progress under President Bush. And then he said, “It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”

A: I know and understand, and I did watch excerpts from Senator Obama’s speech. Look, I’ve said for a long time, America is in trouble. As I’ve been talking all across America, including the heartland, these are tough, tough times, and we need changes. Now, what Senator Obama wants to do is raise people’s taxes, wants to basically sort of redistribute the wealth. I want to keep everybody’s taxes low, and I want everybody rich. He wants to raise taxes.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Aug 31, 2008

Bailing out Bear Stearns necessary to protect economy

Q: You said, “It’s not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they’re big banks or small borrowers.” What about Bear-Stearns?

A: On the issue of Bear Stearns, every financial expert I know says that if it had failed, it would have rippled throughout the entire financial community and would have caused greater problems which eventually would have come down on the average citizen if our economy continues to decline the way that it’s been doing.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Apr 6, 2008

Key is to not to bail out homeowners who speculated

Q: You gave a speech recently in which you said, “It’s not the duty of government to bail out & reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they’re big banks or small borrowers.” What would you do to help the thousands of Americans who right now are in the process of losing their homes? Or do you feel, as you said in your speech, that’s not the duty of government?

A: Look, Americans are hurting right now. They don’t know if they have to get another job. The challenges are enormous right now. The key to it is not to bail out people who speculated or people who engaged in unsavory practices. The key to it is get the lender and the borrower together. We know how hard that is because of identifying the lender, but there’s ways to do it. Of course there’s a role for government, but it’s not to reward greedy speculators. It is not to reward people who misbehave. And it certainly isn’t a huge expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars which, in the long run, could exacerbate the problems that exist

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Apr 6, 2008

Impose some fiscal discipline to revive the economy

Q: Why should we continue a Republican in the White House with the current kind of economic record?

A: I will, as president, veto every one of these big spending bills. I will impose some fiscal discipline. We will clean up our act and we will regain the confidence of the American people as being careful stewards of our tax dollars, and we will fix this problem with having to borrow money from China, then we will balance our budget, just like every governor in America has been required to do.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

John McCain on Voting Record

Veto all pork-barrel bills and announce pork spenders

Q: How will you be different, in any way, from Pres. Bush?

A: I would have vetoed spending bill after spending bill after pork-barrel project after pork-barrel project, in the tradition of President Reagan. The first pork-barrel bill that crosses my desk, I’m going to veto it and make the authors of those pork-barrel items famous all over America. We’re going to stop it.

Q: What specific programs would you cut if you were president?

A: Line-item veto is the best tool. We need it very badly.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Voted NO on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment; Bill H.R. 3357 ; vote number 2009-S254 on Jul 30, 2009

Voted YES on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.

Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; Bill HR1106&S896 ; vote number 2009-S185 on May 6, 2009

Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.

Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Bill H.R.1 ; vote number 2009-S061 on Feb 10, 2009

Voted YES on $40B in reduced federal overall spending.

Vote to pass a bill that reduces federal spending by $40 billion over five years by decreasing the amount of funds spent on Medicaid, Medicare, agriculture, employee pensions, conservation, and student loans. The bill also provides a down-payment toward hurricane recovery and reconstruction costs.
Reference: Work, Marriage, and Family Promotion Reconciliation Act; Bill S. 1932 ; vote number 2005-363 on Dec 21, 2005

Voted NO on prioritizing national debt reduction below tax cuts.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would increase the amount of the budget that would be used to reduce the national debt by $75 billion over 5 year. The debt reduction would be offset by reducing the tax cut in the budget framework from $150 billion
Reference: Bill S Con Res 101 ; vote number 2000-55 on Apr 5, 2000

Voted YES on 1998 GOP budget.

Approval of the 1998 GOP Budget which would cut spending and taxes.
Status: CR Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: H. Con. Res. 84 as amended; Bill H. Con. Res. 84 ; vote number 1997-92 on May 23, 1997

Voted YES on Balanced-budget constitutional amendment.

Approval of the balanced-budget constitutional amendment.
Status: Joint Resolution Defeated Y)66; N)34
Reference: S. J. Res. 1; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 1997-24 on Mar 4, 1997

Balanced Budget Amendment with 3/5 vote to override.

McCain signed H.J.RES.1& S.J.RES.22

Constitutional Amendment to prohibit outlays for a fiscal year (except those for repayment of debt principal) from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year (except those derived from borrowing) unless Congress, by a three-fifths rollcall vote of each chamber, authorizes a specific excess of outlays over receipts.

Source: Joint Resolution for Amendment to the Constitution 09-HJR1 on Jan 6, 2009

Disapprove of increasing the debt limit.

McCain co-sponsored Joint Resolution on Debt Limit

Congressional Summary:JOINT RESOLUTION: Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That Congress disapproves of the President's exercise of authority to increase the debt limit, as submitted on Jan. 12, 2012.

Congressional Vote: Vote #4 in the House: 239 Yeas; 176 Nays; Senate declined to vote on the Resolution.

OnTheIssues Explanation: On Jan. 12, 2012, Pres. Obama notified Congress of his intent to raise the nation's debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion, two weeks after he had postponed the request to give lawmakers more time to consider the action. Congress then had 15 days to say no before the debt ceiling is automatically raised from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion. Hence the debt ceiling was increased.

In Aug. 2011, the US government was nearly shut down by an impasse over raising the debt ceiling; under an agreement reached then, the President could raise the debt limit in three increments while also implementing $2.4 trillion in budget cuts. The agreement also gave Congress the option of voting to block each of the debt-ceiling increases by passing a "resolution of disapproval." The House disapproved; the Senate, by declining to vote in the 15-day window, killed the Resolution. Even if the resolution were passed, Pres. Obama could veto it; which could be overridden by a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate. The House vote only had 57% approval, not enough for the 67% override requirement, so the Senate vote became moot. The same set of actions occurred in Sept. 2011 for the first debt ceiling increase.

Source: HJRes.98/SJRes34 12-SJR34 on Jan 23, 2012

Supports constitutional amendment for balanced budget.

McCain supports the CC survey question on balancing the budget

The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution' The Christian Coalition notes, "You can help make sure that voters have the facts BEFORE they cast their votes. We have surveyed candidates in the most competitive congressional races on the issues that are important to conservatives."

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 16_CC20 on Nov 8, 2016

Maintain & enforce existing spending caps in the future.

McCain adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

What we offer today are not the precise spending decisions of a given year's budget; rather, we call upon the Congress and the nation to adopt the following guidelines for our fiscal policy over the next decade. This long-term blueprint is essential for maintaining both the immediate public-sector goal of balancing the budget and the private-sector goal of a healthy economy. This can be achieved through the following steps:

Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP5 on Sep 9, 1998

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