Tuesday, April 17, 2007

McCain's Economic Speech

It's no secret that we are fond of Senator John McCain. Very fond.

So we don't feel uncomfortable when it comes time for us to give Team McCain some GreenMountainPolitics1 "Straight Talk".

Which we feel obligated to do after reading (and twice re-reading) the good (but not great) speech on economic policy that McCain gave at the University of Memphis yesterday.

There is no question that John McCain has a long and admirable record as a strong fiscal conservative.

There is no question that John McCain, who is criticized by "morons" (our words) for his opposition to Bush's '01 and '03 tax cuts, was right to oppose the tax cuts because the country could not afford them at a time when the Congress and the President were trying to pay for huge entitlement expansions.

And, if the Heritage paper is a little too "sissy" for you, simply ask Pete Peterson what his take on the Bush tax cuts are. Peterson ain't sissy.

Remember, the world is always more complicated than what monkeys like this are attempting to sell you.

But the folks who read our humble little Blog already know that the world is complicated so why, they ask, do we have a problem with the McCain economic speech from yesterday?

Our beef is that it took John McCain 14 paragraphs (half of his speech) before he began talking about reforming Medicare and Social Security. Here are paragraphs 15 and 16 of the 27 paragraph speech:

"I'll fight to save the future of Social Security and Medicare. I won't leave office without doing everything I can to fix the fiscal problem that, more than any other, threatens our future prosperity and power. No problem is in more need of honesty than the looming insolvency of our entitlement programs. No government program is the object of more political posturing and spin than Social Security and Medicare. Americans have the right to know the truth, no matter how bad it is. So here's a little straight talk: the current Social Security system is unsustainable. Period. A half century ago, sixteen American workers supported every retiree. Today, it's just three. Soon, it will be only two. If we don't make some tough choices, Social Security and Medicare either won't be there for our children and grandchildren or we will have had to raise taxes so dramatically to support them that we will have crushed the prosperity of average Americans.

"If I'm President, I'll submit a plan to save Social Security and Medicare, and I'll ask Democrats in Congress to do the same. We'll listen to what people outside government suggest as well. I'll work on a bipartisan basis to make the hard choices; to protect the retirement security of the American worker, and the growth of the American economy. And if Congress is afraid to make those choices, then they can just let me do it. I'll take the heat. I'll ask Congress to let me submit a comprehensive proposal. I'll prepare it carefully, fairly and honestly. And they can vote yes or no on that proposal: no amendments; no filibuster; no tricks: no band-aid solutions; no more lies; no more kicking the can down the road as the problem becomes harder and more expensive to solve; no more hoping that a future generation of leaders will have the courage we lack. If some of their constituents complain, and they will, they can put the blame on me. I can take it. What I can't take is the shame of leaving office knowing that America's future was less promising than its past. I've spent my life fighting to make sure that sad day never comes.

While McCain's language goes further than does the language of any other Republican candidate for President on this issue it's still not good enough. Any "real" government speech on the "future" of the American economy must begin and end with entitlement reform. With details. With details that make people sit up and take notice. With some sort of "phased-in overhaul of the entire system".

Just ask David Walker.

McCain's record of support for the line-item veto, cutting government waste, attacking pork barrel projects and making the the business of government more transparent is Noted and appreciated.

We also know, from listening to McCain on the stump in New Hampshire and talking with him on the Straight Talk Express, that the Senator takes entitlement reform very seriously.

Which must scare the hell out of some of the Senator's political Game Players.

But we are not sure that his Game Players need to be that antsy.

David Walker told 60 Minutes "We've been to 13 cities outside of Washington with the fiscal wake up tour. They are absolutely starved for two things: the truth and leadership."

Starved for the truth and leadership? Paging John McCain?

Now all the good Senator has to do is get in there and own this issue. Because, with this, it really is about our children.

We're just saying.