"Culture of Corruption"Perhaps the most twisted claim the DNC makes about McCain is this:
DNC: [McCain] looked the other way as Jack Abramoff bought and paid for the Republican Party and the Culture of Corruption.
The truth is that McCain, as chairman of the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee, vigorously pursued an investigation into how tribes had been fleeced by the mostly Republican lobbyists they hired to back their casino ventures. Federal prosecutors later sent a number of players in the scandal to prison, including lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio. The scandal also entangled and contributed to the downfall of ex-Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the former Republican majority leader, who once described Abramoff as "one of my closest and dearest friends." It also contributed to the defeats of Republican Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana and eight-term Republican Rep. Richard Pombo of California. Even McCain's critics admit he kept pressure on the Bush Justice Department while it investigated Abramoff. To say that he "looked the other way" is false.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
Contact: Press Office
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery at the University of South Florida -- Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, in Tampa, FL, today at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
Thank you. I appreciate the hospitality of the University of South Florida, and this opportunity to meet with you at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. Speaker Moffitt, Dr. Dalton, Dean Klasko, thank you for the invitation, and for your years of dedication that have made this campus a center of hope for cancer victims everywhere. It's good to see some other friends here, including your board member and my friend and former colleague Connie Mack. And my thanks especially to the physicians, administrators, and staff of this wonderful place.
Sometimes in our political debates, America's health-care system is criticized as if it were just one more thing to argue about. Those of you involved in running a research center like this, or managing the children's hospital that I visited yesterday in Miami, might grow a little discouraged at times listening to campaigns debate health care. But I know you never lose sight of the fact that you are each involved in one of the great vocations, doing some of the greatest work there is to be done in this world. Some of the patients you meet here are in the worst hours of their lives, filled with fear and heartache. And the confident presence of a doctor, the kind and skillful attentions of a nurse, or the knowledge that researchers like you are on the case, can be all they have to hold onto. That is a gift only you can give, and you deserve our country's gratitude.
I've had a tour here this morning, and though I can't say I absorbed every detail of the research I certainly understand that you are making dramatic progress in the fight against cancer. With skill, ingenuity, and perseverance, you are turning new technologies against one of the oldest enemies of humanity. In the lives of cancer patients, you are adding decades where once there were only years, and years where once there were only months. You are closing in on the enemy, in all its forms, and one day you and others like you are going to save uncounted lives with a cure for cancer. In all of this, you are showing the medical profession at its most heroic.
In any serious discussion of health care in our nation, this should always be our starting point -- because the goal, after all, is to make the best care available to everyone. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are covered. Health care in America should be affordable by all, not just the wealthy. It should be available to all, and not limited by where you work or how much you make. It should be fair to all; providing help where the need is greatest, and protecting Americans from corporate abuses. And for all the strengths of our health-care system, we know that right now it falls short of this ideal.
Some 47 million individuals, nearly a quarter of them children, have no health insurance at all. Roughly half of these families will receive coverage again with a mother or father's next job, but that doesn't help the other half who will remain uninsured. And it only draws attention to the basic problem that at any given moment there are tens of millions of Americans who lost their health insurance because they lost or left a job.
Another group is known to statisticians as the chronically uninsured. A better description would be that they have been locked out of our health insurance system. Some were simply denied coverage, regardless of need. Some were never offered coverage by their employer, or couldn't afford it. Some make too little on the job to pay for coverage, but too much to qualify for Medicaid or other public programs. There are many different reasons for their situation. But what they all have in common is that if they become ill, or if their condition gets worse, they will be on their own -- something that no one wants to see in this country.
Underlying the many things that trouble our health care system are the fundamental problems of cost and access. Rising costs hurt those who have insurance by making it more expensive to keep. They hurt those who don't have insurance by making it even harder to obtain. Rising health care costs hurt employers and the self-employed alike. And in the end they threaten serious and lasting harm to the entire American economy.
These rising costs are by no means always accompanied by better quality in care or coverage. In many respects the system has remained less reliable, less efficient, more disorganized and prone to error even as it becomes more expensive. It has also become less transparent, in ways we would find unacceptable in any other industry. Most physicians groups and medical providers don't publish their prices, leaving Americans to guess about the cost of care, or else to find out later when they try to make sense of an endless series of "Explanation of Benefits" forms.
There are those who are convinced that the solution is to move closer to a nationalized health care system. They urge universal coverage, with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly. We'll have all the problems, and more, of private health care -- rigid rules, long waits and lack of choices, and risk degrading its great strengths and advantages including the innovation and life-saving technology that make American medicine the most advanced in the world.
The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves. Right now, even those with access to health care often have no assurance that it is appropriate care. Too much of the system is built on getting paid just for providing services, regardless of whether those services are necessary or produce quality care and outcomes. American families should only pay for getting the right care: care that is intended to improve and safeguard their health.
When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions, less likely to choose the most expensive and often unnecessary options, and are more satisfied with their choices. We took an important step in this direction with the creation of Health Savings Accounts, tax-preferred accounts that are used to pay insurance premiums and other health costs. These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for. And, as president, I would seek to encourage and expand the benefits of these accounts to more American families.
Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and wherever you work, your health plan is goes with you. And there is a very straightforward way to achieve this.
Under current law, the federal government gives a tax benefit when employers provide health-insurance coverage to American workers and their families. This benefit doesn't cover the total cost of the health plan, and in reality each worker and family absorbs the rest of the cost in lower wages and diminished benefits. But it provides essential support for insurance coverage. Many workers are perfectly content with this arrangement, and under my reform plan they would be able to keep that coverage. Their employer-provided health plans would be largely untouched and unchanged.
But for every American who wanted it, another option would be available: Every year, they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best. By mail or online, you would then inform the government of your selection. And the money to help pay for your health care would be sent straight to that insurance provider. The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's health-care plan, and yours to keep.
The value of that credit -- 2,500 dollars for individuals, 5,000 dollars for families -- would also be enhanced by the greater competition this reform would help create among insurance companies. Millions of Americans would be making their own health-care choices again. Insurance companies could no longer take your business for granted, offering narrow plans with escalating costs. It would help change the whole dynamic of the current system, putting individuals and families back in charge, and forcing companies to respond with better service at lower cost.
It would help extend the advantages of staying with doctors and providers of your choice. When Americans speak of "our doctor," it will mean something again, because they won't have to change from one doctor or one network to the next every time they change employers. They'll have a medical "home" again, dealing with doctors who know and care about them.
These reforms will take time, and critics argue that when my proposed tax credit becomes available it would encourage people to purchase health insurance on the current individual market, while significant weaknesses in the market remain. They worry that Americans with pre-existing conditions could still be denied insurance. Congress took the important step of providing some protection against the exclusion of pre-existing conditions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. I supported that legislation, and nothing in my reforms will change the fact that if you remain employed and insured you will build protection against the cost of treating any pre-existing condition.
Even so, those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions do have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need. I will work tirelessly to address the problem. But I won't create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control. Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate. The states have been very active in experimenting with ways to cover the "uninsurables." The State of North Carolina, for example, has an agreement with Blue Cross to act as insurer of "last resort." Over thirty states have some form of "high-risk" pool, and over twenty states have plans that limit premiums charged to people suffering an illness and who have been denied insurance.
As President, I will meet with the governors to solicit their ideas about a best practice model that states can follow -- a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP that would reflect the best experience of the states. I will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure that it is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs. These programs reach out to people who are at risk for different diseases and chronic conditions and provide them with nurse care managers to make sure they receive the proper care and avoid unnecessary treatments and emergency room visits. The details of a Guaranteed Access Plan will be worked out with the collaboration and consent of the states. But, conceptually, federal assistance could be provided to a nonprofit GAP that operated under the direction of a board that i ncluded all stakeholders groups -- legislators, insurers, business and medical community representatives, and, most importantly, patients. The board would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.
This cooperation among states in the purchase of insurance would also be a crucial step in ridding the market of both needless and costly regulations, and the dominance in the market of only a few insurance companies. Right now, there is a different health insurance market for every state. Each one has its own rules and restrictions, and often guarantees inadequate competition among insurance companies. Often these circumstances prevent the best companies, with the best plans and lowest prices, from making their product available to any American who wants it. We need to break down these barriers to competition, innovation and excellence, with the goal of establishing a national market to make the best practices and lowest prices available to every person in every state.
Another source of needless cost and trouble in the health care system comes from the trial bar. Every patient in America must have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice. But this vital principle of law and medicine is not an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers who exploit both patients and physicians alike. We must pass medical liability reform, and those reforms should eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to patient safety protocols. If Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are sincere in their conviction that health care coverage and quality is their first priority, then they will put the needs of patients before the demands of trial lawyers. They can't have it both ways.
We also know from experience that coordinated care -- providers collaborating to produce the best health outcome -- offers better quality and can cost less. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care, not an endless series of bills for pre-surgical tests and visits, hospitalization and surgery, and follow-up tests, drugs and office visits. Paying for coordinated care means that every single provider is now united on being responsive to the needs of a single person: the patient. Health information technology will flourish because the market will demand it.
In the same way, clinics, hospitals, doctors, medical technology producers, drug companies and every other provider of health care must be accountable to their patients and their transactions transparent. Americans should have access to information about the performance and safety records of doctors and other health care providers and the quality measures they use. Families, insurance companies, the government -- whoever is paying the bill -- must understand exactly what their care costs and the outcome they received.
Families also place a high value on quickly getting simple care, and have shown a willingness to pay cash to get it. If walk-in clinics in retail outlets are the most convenient, cost-effective way for families to safely meet simple needs, then no policies of government should stand in their way. And if the cheapest way to get high quality care is to use advances in Web technology to allow a doctor to practice across state lines, then let them.
As you know better than I do, the best treatment is early treatment. The best care is preventative care. And by far the best prescription for good health is to steer clear of high-risk behaviors. The most obvious case of all is smoking cigarettes, which still accounts for so much avoidable disease. People make their own choices in this country, but we in government have responsibilities and choices of our own. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. We can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs. I will work with business and insurance companies to promote the availability and use of these programs.
Smoking is just one cause of chronic diseases that could be avoided or better managed, and the national resources that could be saved by a greater emphasis on preventative care. Chronic conditions -- such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma -- account for three-quarters of the nation's annual health-care bill. In so many cases this suffering could be averted by early testing and screening, as in the case of colon and breast cancers. Diabetes and heart disease rates are also increasing today with rise of obesity in the United States, even among children and teenagers. We need to create a "next generation" of chronic disease prevention, early intervention, new treatment models and public health infrastructure. We need to use technology to share information on "best practices" in health care so every physician is up-to-date. We need to adopt new treatment programs and fi nancial incentives to adopt "health habits" for those with the most common conditions such as diabetes and obesity that will improve their quality of life and reduce the costs of their treatment.
Watch your diet, walk thirty or so minutes a day, and take a few other simple precautions, and you won't have to worry about these afflictions. But many of us never quite get around to it, and the wake-up call doesn't come until the ambulance arrives or we're facing a tough diagnosis.
We can make tremendous improvements in the cost of treating chronic disease by using modern information technology to collect information on the practice patterns, costs and effectiveness of physicians. By simply documenting and disseminating information on best practices we can eliminate those costly practices that don't yield corresponding value. By reforming payment systems to focus on payments for best practice and quality outcomes, we will accelerate this important change.
Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population.
There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care-related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities.
In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appear misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems.
Government can provide leadership to solve problems, of course. So often it comes down to personal responsibility -- the duty of every adult in America to look after themselves and to safeguard the gift of life. But wise government policy can make preventative care the standard. It can put the best practices of preventative care in action all across our health-care system. Over time that one standard alone, consistently applied in every doctor's office, hospital, and insurance company in America, will save more lives than we could ever count. And every year, it will save many billions of dollars in the health-care economy, making medical care better and medical coverage more affordable for every citizen in this country.
Good health is incentive enough to live well and avoid risks, as we're all reminded now and then when good health is lost. But if anyone ever requires further motivation, they need only visit a place like the Moffitt Center, where all the brilliance and resourcefulness of humanity are focused on the task of saving lives and relieving suffering. You're an inspiration, and not only to your patients. You're a reminder of all that's good in American health care, and we need that reminder sometimes in Washington. I thank you for your kind attention this morning, I thank you for the heroic work you have done here, and I wish you success in the even greater work that lies ahead.
Monday, April 28, 2008
**EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY**
REMARKS BY JOHN MCCAIN ON DAY ONE OF THE "CALL TO ACTION TOUR"
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
Contact: Press Office
Monday, April 28, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery at Miami Children's Hospital, in Miami, FL, today at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
It is indeed an honor to be here today at Miami's Children's Hospital. I am humbled to be in the presence of a group that has displayed such overwhelming strength, fortitude, and love of life. And I look forward to hearing your stories, stories that will be a testament as well to the power of innovation and medical science to improve our lives.
I join with all Americans in looking forward to a future of exciting breakthroughs, exploration of the human genome, and technological advances. The vibrancy of American medical science is the envy of the world.
Advances of this sort allow an infant born with complex congenital heart disease to survive and thrive, a vigorous young boy to survive an awful accident, and another to fight the ravages of brain cancer. Our medical professionals have developed surgical procedures to correct bilateral cleft, and our medical device industries invent innovative breathing support. But those efforts are surpassed by the willingness of American families to overcome obstacles, take responsibility for their futures, and look forward to a better life.
As President, I pledge to preserve the foundations that deliver innovation and hope to those who are in need of modern medicine. I will work to eliminate the worries over the availability and cost of health care that trouble the waking hours and disturb the sleep of more Americans than any other single domestic issue.
Despite its many virtues, the health care system as a whole does not mirror the successes in this room. As a nation, we do not uniformly deliver the best possible care. Shortfalls in patient safety and medical errors remain a dangerous reality, and too many Americans do not have health insurance.
But most importantly, our health care is too expensive. We spend a staggering amount of money on health care -- over $2 trillion and almost twice as much as any other country per person. Within the decade total health care spending will more than double and consume nearly one out of every five dollars in America.
These costs are a threat to the ability of Americans to have health insurance, the gateway to better health care. These costs are a threat as well to the ability of American workers to build a better life. Rising costs of health care and health insurance have squeezed the wages that workers earn and consumed the budgets of their families.
I have devoted much of my campaign to a discussion with Americans of my commitment to better care, at lower cost, for all Americans. I understand how important it is for families to be in control of their health care system, and not the reverse. And I want to help chart the right path to that laudable goal.
I am convinced that the wrong way to go is to turn over your lives to the government and hope it will all be fine. It won't. That route ignores the lessons of other countries where governments pay the bills, but real people pay a deeper cost through long waits for treatment or settling for care that does not take advantage of the latest medical science. It ignores the lessons of our own experience where Medicare beneficiaries have "access" on paper while doctors stop taking patients; where our promise to take care of our veterans is betrayed by inaccessible locations and long lines.
My approach to transforming health care is to put families in charge. I believe Americans want to be part of a system that offers better care at lower cost for all Americans, and that respects their individual dignity. We must reform the health care system to make it responsive to the needs of American families. Not the government. Not the insurance companies. Not tort lawyers. Not even the doctors and hospitals.
The next president will have to take on the parochial interests that thrive in the health care system. Doctors must do a better job of managing our care and keeping us healthy and out of hospitals and nursing homes. We will need alternatives to doctors' offices and emergency rooms. Hospitals must do a better job of taking care of us when we are there, commit fewer deadly and costly medical errors and generally operate more efficiently. Pharmaceutical companies must worry less about squeezing additional profits from old medicines by copying the last successful drug and insisting on additional patent protections and focus more on new and innovative medicine. Insurance companies should spend more on medical care and less on "administration."
We must move away from a system that is fragmented and pays for expensive procedures toward one where a family has a medical home, providers coordinate their efforts and take advantage of technology to do so cheaply, and where the focus is on affordable quality outcomes.
America can have a health care system that is characterized by better prevention, coordinated care, electronic health records, cutting-edge treatments -- and lower costs. America can have a health insurance system that innovates to provide policies that meet the needs of families, and that travel with Americans from job to job.
Government can play its part with public health programs that teach the need for personal responsibility to address chronic diseases, especially with the epidemic of obesity among our adults and children. We should again teach nutrition and physical education to our children, and better inform adults what our foods contain and the importance of exercise.
We can build a health care system that is more responsive to our needs and is delivered to more people at lower cost. The "solution," my friends, isn't a one-size-fits-all-big government takeover of health care. It resides where every important social advance has always resided - with the American people themselves, with well informed American families, making practical decisions to address their imperatives for better health and more secure prosperity. The engine of our prosperity and progress has always been our freedom and the sense of responsibility for and control of our own destiny that freedom requires. The public's trust in government waxes and wanes. But we have always trusted in ourselves to meet any challenge that required only our ingenuity and industry to surmount. Any "solution" that robs us of that essential sense of ourselves is a cure far worse than the affliction it is meant to treat.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
As more major media sources truly watch Sen. McCain operate in a general election campaign, those that are not lock-step partisan will come around. Sen. McCain has a small window of opportunity, while the Democrats continue to fight for the partisan left to show his bipartisan bona fides... the next two weeks are important, because if Sen. Obama wins Indiana he may move into general election mode.
I also think it's important that this editorial comes from a major media source in California. Sen. McCain should spend some time in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego in the next two weeks to prove he's serious about contesting California.
Far from pandering, John McCain tells financially hard-pressed voters things they don't want to hear.
* * *
John McCain's "Time for Action" tour of small and hard-hit towns played a bit like an extended campaign commercial, but with an important difference. Yes, there were the photo ops of the candidate in locales usually bypassed by Republicans seeking the White House, including an African American quilting hotbed in rural Alabama, a shuttered factory in a struggling Ohio town and an impoverished Appalachian community in eastern Kentucky. But instead of promising truckloads of aid if he's elected, McCain talked up his vision of a government that helps more by doing less.It's not a new message from the Arizona senator, who follows an unpredictable political muse but typically favors smaller government and less regulation. Yet the context was important. Standing outside the Ohio factory Tuesday, in a state where Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton pandered to protectionists, McCain actually stood up for the North American Free Trade Agreement and free trade.
* * *
The next day he visited Inez, Ky., where nearly a third of the population lives below the poverty line and almost half of the adults never made it through high school. President Lyndon Johnson announced his
War on Poverty in Inez, but McCain was there to withdraw the troops. "Government can't create good and lasting jobs outside of government," he said, adding that it should focus on encouraging businesses to create opportunities for the poor and reduce regulatory barriers to improving education.
* * *
[B]y making a point of saying things his audiences might not want to hear, he gave voters a better feel for who he is and how he thinks. As Obama and Clinton focused on exposing each other's weaknesses, it was nice to see one candidate reveal more about himself.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Also, after the call, I'll include a partial transcript of the highlights...
UPDATE: Sen. McCain spoke to bloggers for about 5 minutes, and then took about 25 minutes of questions this morning at 10AM ET. Highlights include:
- Sen. McCain emphasized his "Time for Action" tour this week to Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana and today to Mike Huckabee's home state Arkansas. He has been visiting places "left out of America's economic success" in the past decade, and emphasized that as President he would seek to serve all Americans.
- When asked by Hugh Hewitt about Senator Obama's comparison between Bill Ayers -- an unrepentant terrorist and founding member of the Weatherman responsible for bombing the US Capitol, the State Department and the Pentagon -- and Tom Coburn -- a sitting US Senator who has advocated severe penalties for those performing abortions -- Sen McCain said he was "offended by the comparison" between his colleague and friend Sen Coburn and a terrorist and was surprised that Sen. Obama's comparison had not been covered more fully by the media.
- Sen. McCain continued to emphasize -- when asked repeatedly by bloggers about an Ad in North Carolina that he condemned and encouraged the NC Republican Party not to run --that he thought the campaign should focus on the vast differences between the candidates on the issues (tax cuts v. tax increases, national security policy, role of government in American's lives) and spend their limited resources in that way.
- In response to a question about President Carter's visit with terrorist organization Hamas and Hamas' endorsement of Sen. Obama, Sen. McCain stated that he's sure Hamas would not endorse him for President.
- Sen. McCain finished the call at 10:30AM ET, and was on a flight to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he will meet Gov. Huckabee today and visit Arkansas Baptist College.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
This move probably puts him off that path, but with the General back in Tampa, Florida heading CentCom, and MoveOn.org's previous smear, this can't be completely nonpolitical...
On another note, it looks like the "popular vote" argument is going to be the big argument for Sen. Clinton. If you take a look at the link with the popular vote laid out, FL and MI are going to continue to come up (can you believe they haven't resolved that issue??!), and the drumbeat of "you won't debate me in NC" will be daily and shrill from Sen. Clinton.
As I just heard on CNBC this morning, this is a "dream scenario" for Republicans. I haven't yet completely believed that, but if Sen. Clinton wins Indiana, I think the Democrats have reached the nightmare...
Monday, April 21, 2008
UPDATE: A nice overview of the "Time for Action" tour...
All: Embargoed until 6am Monday, please see excerpts below from Sen. McCain's remarks Monday, during the first day of his "Time for Action" tour, in Selma and Thomasville, Alabama. Thanks
Remarks As Prepared For Delivery -- Embargoed Until 6am
Outside St. James Hotel
Thank you. Forty-three years ago, an army of more than five hundred marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge; an army that brought with them no weapons, which intended no destruction; that sought to conquer no people or land. At the head of the column, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, tie and tan raincoat, marched a twenty-five year old son of Alabama sharecroppers, John Lewis. They had planned to march from Selma to Montgomery, but they knew they would never reach there. They had been warned they would be met with force, and at the crest of the bridge, they were. Until then, they had marched in silence, with dignity and resolve, men, women, children and old people. All was quiet, even the angry crowd that watched the marchers. But everything was alive with apprehension, with the expectation that something momentous and terrible was imminent.
On the other side of the bridge, row upon row of state troopers in blue uniforms and white helmets, many on horseback, prepared to charge and stop with violence the peaceful army, intent only on conquering injustice. John Lewis took the first blow, a baton thrust to the stomach that shoved him back on the marchers behind him. He took the second blow, too, a hard swung club to his head, leaving a permanent scar where it struck. Blood poured from the wound, darkening his raincoat. He tried to struggle to his feet, and then collapsed unconscious, his skull fractured.
That evening, millions of Americans watched in stunned silence as ABC News broadcast the clash of might against right. They watched brave John Lewis fall. They watched the marchers – peaceful, purposeful, loving, kneeling in humble resistance – scattered and overrun by the troopers, who struck them with clubs and whips, chased them as they fled, trampled them beneath their horses’ hooves. They watched old men and women fall. They saw dignified people claiming only their constitutional rights; affirming the promise of the Declaration of Independence without anger, malice or the least threat of violence, whipped and clubbed for their patriotism. They watched, and were ashamed of their country. And they knew that the people who had tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge weren’t a mob; they weren’t a threat; they weren’t revolutionaries. They were people who believed in America; in the promise of America. And they believed in a better America. They were patriots; the best kind of patriots.
The beaten and dispersed army on Edmund Pettus Bridge had conquered something after all – the indifference of too many Americans to their courageous struggle for the basic rights of American citizenship.
“When I care about something,” John Lewis wrote, “I’m prepared to take the long, hard road.” I’ve seen courage in action on many occasions in my life, but none any greater or used for any better purpose than the courage shown by John Lewis and the good people who marched for justice with him. All his life, John Lewis has believed in Dr. King’s concept of the “beloved community;” a country “not hateful, not violent, not uncaring . . . not separated, not polarized, not adversarial.”
In America all things are possible, even a civilization as great as the one envisioned by Dr. King and John Lewis. But we are practical people, and most of us are honest, and we know we have a ways to go. This week, I will be traveling to places in America that aren’t enjoying the prosperity many other parts of America enjoy, but where people are walking a long, hard road to make sure that their children will know the opportunities that other American children possess. They are places that for too long suffered too many disadvantages, but where people of good character and stout hearts believe in the possibility of making the future better than the past, the essence of the American Dream.
I want to discuss with them how they are working hard to make a better future for their communities and their country. I am going to listen to and learn from them about what government is doing to help their efforts and what it does to hinder them. I’m not going to tell anybody about how government can make their choices for them, but how we can help grow our economy so that people have better choices to make for themselves. I’m going to share some of my ideas for making our schools better, and how to help all parts of America have access to the astonishing improvements in education made possible by the information revolution, and the economic opportunities they bring. I’m going to talk about the great potential of America’s community colleges to help people learn new skills that will help them find secure jobs in the global economy. I want them to know, that as we begin to address the security and environmental threats caused by our dependence on foreign oil, I’m dedicated to making sure our efforts to start a green technology revolution – which could be as transformative as the information revolution -- produces prosperity throughout this country.
There must be no forgotten places in America, whether they have been ignored for long years by the sins of indifference and injustice, or have been left behind as the world grew smaller and more economically interdependent. In America, we have always believed that if the day was a disappointment, we would win tomorrow. That’s what John Lewis believed when he marched across this bridge. That’s what he still believes; what he still fights to achieve: a better country than the one he inherited.
My friends, Americans change things. We always have. We don’t hide from problems or mistakes or history. We change things and we make history. Hope in America is not based in delusion, but in the faith that everything is possible in America. The time for pandering and false promises is over. It is time for action. It is time for change; the right kind of change; change that trusts in the strength of free people and free markets; change that doesn’t return to policies that empower government to make our choices for us, but that works to ensure we have choices to make for ourselves. For we have always trusted Americans to build from the choices they make for themselves, a safer, stronger and more prosperous country than the one they inherited.
I have always believed in this country, in a good America, a great America. But I have always believed we can build a better America. I am here because it is a place where great Americans once fought to do just that, and I’m going to places where they are still fighting for change; to make us a better country. I am going to meet and learn from patriots.
Excerpts From Remarks As Prepared For Delivery -- Embargoed Until 6am
Alabama Southern Community College
Thank you. I’m very pleased to be here. I began today with a visit to Gee’s Bend. Forty-six years ago the ferry from Gee’s Bend to Camden was discontinued, further isolating the community from the rest of Wilcox County and modernity, and causing a lot of suffering there. They are proud people in Gee’s Bend, and revere their old traditions. But change and progress is not something they fear. Camden shut down the service to stop change; to stop the people of Gee’s Bend from answering Dr. King’s call and coming to Camden to demonstrate for their civil rights. It didn’t work. They marched -- some of them on the Edmund Pettus Bridge; they demonstrated; many were jailed; they voted and they helped change Alabama and America. We’ve come a long way since then. The old hatred and injustice that kept people in a state of second class citizenship might still live in some hard hearts in our country, but it is no longer the author of our laws. We’re a better country than we were then. But it is no slight to the people of Gee’s Bend or elsewhere to recognize we still have a ways to go; there are still things that must change in this country. There are still places that haven’t shared in the opportunities enjoyed elsewhere in our country; places that have long been ignored or are losing ground as the global economy forces change faster than many ever expected. For the people in those places, the time for talking about change is over. It’s time for action.
That’s why I am so pleased to come to Thomasville and Alabama Southern Community College, where you have made impressive gains attracting investment, improving education and job opportunities, and building a community that will not be denied its fair share of the American Dream – building a better life for you and your children. One of the great success stories in America are our community colleges that are doing so much to help Americans adapt to our always changing economy. I’m a great believer in using community colleges to help young Americans acquire the skills that will set them on the road to a good and purposeful life, and help workers who have lost a job that’s never coming back find a job that won’t go away. Community colleges can also serve to effectively train and certify teachers, who might remain in the area where they were educated.
Your college illustrates why I am so convinced that community colleges are indispensable to our future prosperity, particularly your dual enrollment program with Thomasville High School, where the students attend classes and earn credits at Alabama Southern, use the resources here, shorten the time and increase the likelihood that they will receive a college degree. The City of Thomasville plays a critical role in ensuring the program’s success by offering scholarships to qualified students. It is an excellent example of a community working together to make the best use of existing resources to improve education, which, in turn, will attract new business investment because of the skills and reliability of your labor force. I commend you for it, and appreciate very much your willingness to meet with me. I came to Thomasville to understand the things you have done to improve your opportunities, and how they might serve people in other communities.
I also wanted to share a few ideas with you for improving the quality of public education in many American communities. The information revolution that has transformed the world’s economy has also greatly enhanced the value of education to any American’s personal success. At the same time – and this is one of the most disturbing facts of our society today – the quality of elementary and secondary education has declined. As a newspaper columnist put it the other day, “for the first time in the nation’s history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the one’s coming in.” That is absolutely unacceptable in a country as decent and prosperous as ours. And it is long past time we did something about it.
Rural areas often struggle to attract young highly qualified and motivated new teachers. At the same time, we make it very difficult for Americans with exceptional skills for teaching to enter the field of education through non-traditional means. These are often people who would like nothing better than to take advantage of the quiet beauty and traditional values that are the foundation of rural America. But the path to teaching is often made up of more barriers than gateways. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today. The next president should aggressively support state and national initiatives that attract exceptionally qualified candidates into teaching and that provide certification based on the candidates’ demonstrated knowledge of the subjects they will teach, as well as their knowledge of how to teach. Terrific organizations like Teach for America attract the very best young college graduates from all disciplines to enter the teaching profession. The Troops to Teachers program takes advantage of the sense of heightened responsibility and duty that military veterans were taught in the discipline of the armed forces, and which makes many of them excellent candidates to impart those virtues to our children, and help them see the value of learning as a means to self-improvement.
Information technology has the potential for overcoming obstacles facing rural and small town schools. Virtual classrooms offer everything from remediation programs for struggling students to advance placement courses for students seeking extra challenges. And they offer training for teachers looking to improve their methods or acquire new skills. For students who work independently, there are even certified on-line high schools that offer full-blown alternatives to brick-and-mortar public schools.
Our small towns and rural communities have so much to offer to Americans interested in assuming the unique leadership role so many teachers play in these communities. We must break down the barriers that prevent them from doing so. There is no reason on earth that this great country should not possess the best education system in the world. We have let fear of uncertainty, and a tired reliance on the old ways of doing things, and, for some, the view that education’s primary purpose is to protect jobs for teachers and administrators degrade our sense of the possible in America. There is no excuse for it, not in this country.
In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us. We don’t need to search for it. And no work could possibly be more important to increasing and spreading our prosperity to every part of America than reforming public education. We must make it the envy of the world, as many of our leading universities are, as befits a great and good country.
Thank you. Now I would like to take your questions and listen to your ideas. Like you, I have come to Alabama Southern Community College to learn.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
It is one of the main reasons I support him. Honor is something Sen. McCain has in spades, and it is something in short supply in Washington... I can't believe the Post gave Karen Johnson the last word in its smear piece.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I've seen him in town hall meetings, and he is so good at the format, and solid on the issues that it will be impressive to all (even, very importantly, those who disagree with him on the issues... for example, the war in Iraq). He gains regular Americans respect, because he listens, interacts and reciprocates his own respect by taking their questions.
He will be unscripted by it, and this will impress the media and contrast directly from Sen. Obama (I am beginning to assume he will be the candidate, sooner or later... although, frankly, Sen. Clinton has been ever more stilted and scripted). Eventually, the media and the Americans watching will begin to see that Obama is very much flash and symbolism, but not willing to get in the trenches... I think, while this clip got the crowd going (where he wipes the "dirt" off his suit... and the constant complaining about Hillary), it will come back to haunt Sen. Obama because it makes him look like he's either unable or unwilling to take the tough questions.
Sen. McCain, on the other hand, is in the trenches every day taking questions from media (national and local) and all kinds of citizens from all walks of life with all political viewpoints... I can't wait for this to get started...
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Carnegie Mellon University
April 15, 2008
Thank you. I appreciate the hospitality of the Allegheny Business Conference … the Pittsburgh Tech Council … and the students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon University. We have a strong showing this morning from the Carnegie Mellon Naval ROTC unit as well. And I'm happy to be with all of you.
In our free society, it is left to each one of us to make our own way in the world – and our jobs, businesses, savings, pensions, farms, and homes are the work of years. Take these away and you are diminishing a lot more than the GDP, or the final tally on the Big Board on Wall Street. Take these away, and a million dreams are undone. The gains of hard work and sacrifice are lost. And something can be lost that is very crucial in our economy, and very slow to return – confidence.
Economic policy is not just some academic exercise, and we in Washington are not just passive spectators. We have a responsibility to act – and if I am elected president I intend to act quickly and decisively. We need reforms that promote growth and opportunity. We need rules that assure fairness and punish wrongdoing in the market. We need tax policies that respect the wage-earners and job creators who make this economy run, and help them to succeed in a global economy. In all of this, it will not be enough to simply dust off the economic policies of four, eight, or twenty-eight years ago. We have our own work to do. We have our own challenges to meet.
Americans are also right to be offended when the extravagant salaries and severance deals of CEO's – in some cases, the very same CEO's who helped to bring on these market troubles – bear no relation to the success of the company or the wishes of shareholders. Something is seriously wrong when the American people are left to bear the consequences of reckless corporate conduct, while Mr. Cayne of Bear Stearns, Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide, and others are packed off with another forty- or fifty million for the road.
In the same way, many in Congress think Americans are under-taxed. They speak as if letting you keep your own earnings were an act of charity, and now they have decided you've had enough. By allowing many of the current low tax rates to expire, they would impose – overnight – the single largest tax increase since the Second World War. Among supporters of a tax increase are Senators Obama and Clinton. Both promise big "change." And a trillion dollars in new taxes over the next decade would certainly fit that description.
Of course, they would like you to think that only the very wealthy will pay more in taxes, but the reality is quite different. Under my opponents' various tax plans, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise – seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market. All these tax increases are the fine print under the slogan of "hope": They're going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars per year – and they have the audacity to hope you don't mind.
In so many ways, we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties. For Republicans, it starts with reclaiming our good name as the party of spending restraint. Somewhere along the way, too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats they used to oppose. The only power of government that could stop them was the power of veto, and it was rarely used.
If that authority is entrusted to me, I will use the veto as needed, and as the Founders intended. I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks. I will seek a constitutionally valid line-item veto to end the practice once and for all. I will lead across-the-board reforms in the federal tax code, removing myriad corporate tax loopholes that are costly, unfair, and inconsistent with a free-market economy.
As president, I will also order a prompt and thorough review of the budgets of every federal program, department, and agency. While that top to bottom review is underway, we will institute a one-year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veterans benefits. "Discretionary spending" is a term people throw around a lot in Washington, while actual discretion is seldom exercised. Instead, every program comes with a built-in assumption that it should go on forever, and its budget increase forever. My administration will change that way of thinking.
In my administration there will be no more subsidies for special pleaders … no more corporate welfare … no more throwing around billions of dollars of the people's money on pet projects, while the people themselves are struggling to afford their homes, groceries, and gas. We are going to get our priorities straight in Washington – a clean break from years of squandered wealth and wasted chances.
The goal of reform, however, is not merely to check waste and keep a tidy budget process – although these are important enough in themselves. The great goal is to get the American economy running at full strength again, creating the opportunities Americans expect and the jobs Americans need. And one very direct way to achieve that is by taking the savings from earmark, program review, and other budget reforms – on the order of 100 billion dollars annually – and use those savings to lower the business income tax for every employer that pays it.
So I will send to Congress a proposal to cut the taxes these employers pay, from a rate of 35 to 25 percent. As it is, we have the second-highest tax on business in the industrialized world. High tax rates are driving many businesses and jobs overseas – and, of course, our foreign competitors wouldn't mind if we kept it that way. But if I am elected president, we're going to get rid of that drag on growth and job creation, and help American workers compete with any company in the world.
I will also send to the Congress a middle-class tax cut – a complete phase-out of the Alternative Minimum Tax to save more than 25 million middle-class families more than 2,000 dollars every year.
Our tax laws and those who enforce them should treat all citizens with respect, whether they are married or single. But mothers and fathers bear special responsibilities, and the tax code must recognize this. Inflation has eroded the value of the exemption for dependents. I will send to Congress a reform to increase the exemption – with the goal of doubling it from 3,500 dollars to 7,000 dollars for every dependent, in every family in America.
The tax laws of America should also promote and reward innovation, because innovation creates jobs. Tax laws should not smother the ingenuity of our people with needless regulations and disincentives. So I will propose and sign into law a reform agenda to permit the first-year expensing of new equipment and technology … to ban Internet taxes, permanently … to ban new cell phone taxes … and to make the tax credit for R&D permanent, so that we never lose our competitive edge.
It is not enough, however, to make little fixes here and there in the tax code. What we need is a simpler, a flatter, and a fair tax code. As president, I will propose an alternative tax system. When this reform is enacted, all who wish to file under the current system could still do so. And everyone else could choose a vastly less complicated system with two tax rates and a generous standard deduction. Americans do not resent paying their rightful share of taxes – what they do resent is being subjected to thousands of pages of needless and often irrational rules and demands from the IRS. We know from experience that no serious reform of the current tax code will come out of Congress, so now it is time to turn the decision over to the people. We are going to create a new and simpler tax system – and give the American people a choice.
Americans also worry about stagnant wages, which are caused in part by the rising cost of health care. Each year employers pay more and more for insurance, leaving less and less to pay their employees. As president, I will propose and relentlessly advocate changes that will bring down health care costs, make health care more affordable and accessible, help individuals and families buy their health insurance with generous tax credits, and enable you to keep your insurance when you change jobs.
Many retired Americans face the terrible reality of deciding whether to buy food, pay rent or buy their prescriptions. And their government should help them. But when we added the prescription drug benefit to Medicare, a new and costly entitlement, we included many people who are more than capable of purchasing their own medicine without assistance from taxpayers who struggle to purchase their own. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers. Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so. This reform alone will save billions of dollars that could be returned to taxpayers or put to better use.
When new trading partners can sell in our market, and American companies can sell in theirs, the gains are great and they are lasting. The strength of the American economy offers a better life to every society we trade with, and the good comes back to us in many ways – in better jobs, higher wages, and lower prices. Free trade can also give once troubled and impoverished nations a stake in the world economy, and in their relations with America. In the case of Colombia, a friend and crucial democratic ally, its stability and economic vitality are more critical now, as others in the region seek to turn Latin America away from democracy and away from our country. Trade serves all of these national interests, and the interests of the American economy as well – and I call on the Congress once again to put this vital agreement to an up or down vote.
These reforms must wait on the next election, but to help our workers and our economy we must also act in the here and now. And we must start with the subprime mortgage crisis, with the hundreds of thousands of citizens who played by the rules, yet now fear losing their houses. Under the HOME plan I have proposed, our government will offer these Americans direct and immediate help that can make all the difference: If you can't make your payments, and you're in danger of foreclosure, you will be able to go to any Post Office and pick up a form for a new HOME loan. In place of your flawed mortgage loan, you'll be eligible for a new, 30-year fixed-rate loan backed by the United States government. Citizens will keep their homes, lenders will cut their losses, and everyone will move on – following the sounder practices that should have been observed in the first place.
I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people – from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year. The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus – taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up. Over the same period, our government should suspend the purchase of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has also contributed to the rising price of oil. This measure, combined with the summer-long "gas-tax holiday," will bring a timely reduction in the price of gasoline. And because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging, and just about everything else, these immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy.
By summer's end, moreover, millions of college students will be counting on their student loans to come through – and we need to make sure that happens. These young Americans, including perhaps some of you at CMU, are among the many citizens whose ability to obtain a loan might be seriously hurt by faraway problems not of their own making. So, today, I propose that the Department of Education work with the governors to make sure that each state's guarantee agency has the means and manpower to meet its obligation as a lender-of-last-resort for student loans. In the years ahead, these young Americans will be needed to sustain America's primacy in the global marketplace. And they should not be denied an education because the recklessness of others has made credit too hard to obtain.
These are just some of the reforms I intend to fight for and differences I will debate with whoever my Democratic opponent is. In the weeks and months ahead, I will detail my plans to reform health care in America … to make our schools more accountable to parents and taxpayers … to keep America's edge in technology … to use the power of free markets to grow our economy … to escape our dependence on foreign oil … and to guard against climate change and to be better stewards of the earth. All of these challenges, and more, will face the next president, and I will not leave them for some unluckier generation of leaders to deal with. We are going to restore the confidence of the American people in the future of this great and blessed country.
Monday, April 14, 2008
REMARKS BY JOHN MCCAIN TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS' ANNUAL MEETING
EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY
Contact: Press Office
Monday, April 14, 2008
ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery to The Associated Press' annual meeting in Washington, D.C., today at 10:30 a.m. EDT:
Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here. I want to keep my remarks brief so that I can quickly get to your questions, comments or insults. Let me begin by offering a few thoughts about the press's role in political campaigns. Long ago in my career, I made a decision to be as accessible to the press as the press would prefer me to be, and, perhaps, even more than they would prefer. There have been days on the back of the bus when I couldn't help but notice the relief that spread among reporters when, after hours had passed, our conversation exhausted the day's questions of policy and politics and finally turned to ball scores, vacation plans, and the amusing eating and sleeping habits of my friend, Lindsey Graham. For those of you interested in what those habits might entail, Liz Sidoti, Libby Quaid and Dave Espo can fill you in.
Running campaigns under the frequent if not constant scrutiny of the press can be challenging. And there have been days when I wished you had been somewhere else when I made comments that were interpreted in ways I didn't intend and took on a longer life than I would have preferred. Occasionally, the penalties a candidate suffers by granting widespread access can reinforce a campaign's natural tendencies to avoid risk and closely control its message. There have been times when my enthusiasm in arguing a point and my glibness have had an effect that caused me to appreciate the qualities of tight message discipline and my staff to become distraught because I answered a question simply because I was asked. I confess also that on occasion, perhaps many occasions, I have felt reporters' questions, their redundancy and sometimes adversarial quality, were intended more at producing candidate fatigue and, consequently, mistakes than the enlightenment of y our readers.
These aren't trivial worries, and they do tend to support arguments for a more careful approach to talking to you. I want to win this election as do my opponents, and Americans have always taken the view that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Thus, campaigns naturally look suspiciously at the more circuitous route to success that wends and sometimes loses its way through the obstacle course of the candidate's exchanges with the press. But I've become rather accustomed to it. And though my campaign certainly took a circuitous route to securing my party's nomination -- to put it charitably -- I don't intend to change that particular habit of a lifetime.
I believe in giving great access to the press for three reasons. First, I much prefer long back and forths, where reporters have multiple follow ups and I have an opportunity to explain my views in greater detail -- and, occasionally to correct any initial mistakes I might have made in communicating them -- than is allowed in the short exchanges and bright lights of the press avail. The dynamics of the avail, in my opinion, tend to produce more heat than light on your part and excessive caution on the candidate's part. Reporters have one, maybe two shots at me, and they want it to count, by which I mean they would like to catch me in a mistake, a discrepancy or a less than artful expression. And candidates tend to approach them with the primary intention of not saying anything beyond a single message or not saying anything newsworthy at all.
Second, I think reporters are better able to meet their first responsibility of ensuring an informed citizenry if they are allowed to press a candidate for more than a gotcha quote or a comment on whatever the cable driven news environment has decided is the process story of the day.
Last, and most importantly, the responsibility of an informed citizenry is as much my responsibility as it is yours. I don't believe in deceiving voters about my positions, my beliefs or how I would govern this country were I to have the extraordinary privilege of serving as President. I want voters to know and understand my positions. I intend to stand by them, to defend them and even, at times, to engage in spirited debate with voters about them. But I want them to know what and why I believe the things I believe. And I think the press wants voters to know that as well, even though, at times, my views can suffer from your translation of them, sometimes more through my fault than yours. That is why I prefer the townhall format to other forms of communication with the voters. And that is why I make myself regularly available to all of you. I will screw up sometimes, and, frankly, so will you. But on the whole, you, I and, most importantly, the Ame rican people are better served by the openness and accountability that direct, lengthy and frequent exchanges with the press produces. And I will take my chances with you and trust in the American people to get it right in the end.
In the spirit of that commitment to communicating my views fully and honestly to you, I want to address quickly an issue I know is important to you, the so-called "shield law" pending before Congress. I have had a hard time deciding whether to support or oppose it. To be very candid, but with no wish to offend you, I must confess there have been times when I worry that the press' interest in getting a scoop occasionally conflicts with other important priorities, even the first concern of every American -- the security of our nation. I take a very, very dim view of stories that disclose classified information that unnecessarily threatens or makes it more difficult to protect the physical security of Americans. I think that has happened before, rarely, but it has happened. I think the New York Times' decision to disclose surveillance programs to monitor the conversations of people who wish to do us harm came too close to crossing that line. And I understand completely why the government charged with defending our security would want to discourage that from happening and hold the people who disclosed that damaging information accountable for their action.
The shield law would give great license to you and your sources, with few restrictions, to do as you please no matter the stakes involved and without fear of personal consequences beyond the rebuke of your individual consciences. It is, frankly, a license to do harm, perhaps serious harm. But it also a license to do good; to disclose injustice and unlawfulness and inequities; and to encourage their swift correction. The First Amendment is based in that recognition, and I am, despite the criticism of campaign finance reform opponents, committed to that essential right of a free society. I know that the press that disclosed security secrets that should have remained so also revealed the disgrace of Abu Ghraib, a disgrace that made it much harder to protect the American people from harm. Thus, despite concerns I have about the legislation, I have narrowly decided to support it. I respect those of my colleagues who have decided not to; appreciate very much the concerns that have informed their position, and encourage further negotiations to address those concerns. But if the vote were held today, I would vote yes. By so doing, I and others, on behalf of the people we represent, are willing to invest in the press a very solemn trust that in the use of confidential sources you will not do more harm than good whether it comes to the security of the nation or the reputation of good people.
No profession always meets its responsibilities or always meets them perfectly. Certainly not mine, and not yours either. There will be times, I suspect, when I will wonder again if I should have supported this measure. But I trust in your integrity and patriotism that those occasions won't be so numerous that I will, in fact, deeply regret my decision. And I would hope that when you do something controversial or something that many people find wrong and harmful you would explain fully and honestly how and why you did it, and confess your mistakes, if you made them, in a more noticeable way than afforded by the small print on a corrections page. In truth, the workings of American newsrooms are some of the least transparent enterprises in the country, and it is easy to believe that the press has one set of standards for government, business, and other institutions, and entirely another for themselves. And if you don't mind a little constructive cri ticism from someone who respects you, I think that is an impression the press should work on correcting.
Now, before I take your questions, I would like to respond briefly to the comments one of my opponents made the other day about the psychology and political mindset of Americans living in small towns and other areas that have experienced the loss of industrial jobs.
During the Great Depression, with many millions of Americans out of work and the country suffering the worst economic crisis in our history, there rose from small towns, rural communities, inner cities, a generation of Americans who fought to save the world from despotism and mass murder, and came home to build the wealthiest, strongest and most generous nation on earth. They were not born with the advantages others in our country enjoyed. They suffered the worst during the Depression. But it had not shaken their faith in and fidelity to America and its founding political ideals. Nor had it destroyed their confidence that America and their own lives could be made better. Nor did they turn to their religious faith and cultural traditions out of resentment and a feeling of powerlessness to affect the course of government or pursue prosperity. On the contrary, their faith had given generations of their families purpose and meaning, as it does today. And their appreciation of traditions like hunting was based in nothing other than their contribution to the enjoyment of life.
In my other profession and the war I served in, the country relied overwhelmingly on Americans from these same communities to defend us. As Tocqueville discovered when he traveled America two hundred years ago, they are the heart and soul of this country, the foundation of our strength and the primary authors of its essential goodness. They are our inspiration, and I look to them for guidance and strength. No matter their personal circumstances, they believed in this country. They revered its past, but most importantly they believed in its future greatness, a greatness they themselves would create. They never forgot who they were, where they came from, and what is possible in America, a country founded on an idea and not on class, ethnic or sectarian identity. And America must not and will not forget them.
Next week, I'll begin a tour of places in America that do not frequently see a candidate for President. They are places far removed from the prosperity that is enjoyed elsewhere in America. I want to tell people living there that there must not be any forgotten parts of America; any forgotten Americans. Hope in America is not based in delusion, but in the faith that everything is possible in America. The time for pandering and false promises is over. It is time for action. It is time for change, but the right kind of change; change that trusts in the strength of free people and free markets; change that doesn't return to policies that empower government to make our choices for us, but that works to ensure that we have choices to make for ourselves. For we have always trusted Americans to build from the choices they make for themselves, a safer, stronger and more prosperous country than the one they inherited.
As a kid from suburban Kansas City, I just watched it and it strikes a chord...
A bit more uplifting version, that also hits the note is this one by Trace Adkins. As Mr. Instapundit says: while I would bet a million dollars that nearly every one of the "bitter" Americans would say hell yeah that song is about me, I can imagine the elites who look down upon ordinary Americans wouldn't have the first idea what in the world they are "clinging" to in this song, or what Trace is talking about...
Friday, April 11, 2008
McCain Talks About U.S. Economy in Brooklyn
Thank you for joining me here today. It is a real pleasure to be participating in this roundtable with so many accomplished entrepreneurs and small business owners. You represent the engine of economic growth in America. Small business creates the majority of new jobs in America every year -- so thank you for your ingenuity, perseverance, and hard work.
For Americans, a good job is the best program for housing, education, clothing, health care and transportation ever devised. A strong, growing economy with good jobs is central to everything we want for America. Today our economy is weakening, and as I travel this country and meet and talk with people, I can see how things are getting tougher for many Americans.
As I see it, individuals and families are feeling real pressure in four major areas. Housing prices are flat or declining and Americans have lost their homes or are in danger of losing them. A credit crunch is making personal loans, student loans, or business loans harder to get. Gas prices and food prices are threatening family budgets. And people are worried about their jobs.
I have a plan of action to get the American economy back on track. My plan is comprised of two parts: First is a tangible, near-term plan to address and relieve some of the serious problems that Americans are facing right now. The second part of the plan is to create the right medium and long-term environment for our economy to rebound and thrive.
Let me discuss the short-term challenges and actions first.
Recently, a sustained period of rising home prices made many home lenders complacent, giving them a false sense of security and causing them to lower their lending standards. They stopped asking basic questions of their borrowers like "can you afford this home? Can you put a reasonable amount of money down?" Lenders ended up violating the basic rule of banking: don't lend people money who can't pay it back. Some Americans bought homes they couldn't afford, betting that rising prices would make it easier to refinance later at more affordable rates. There are 80 million family homes in America and those homeowners are now facing the reality that the bubble has burst and prices go down as well as up.
More generally, credit is drying up and liquidity is now severely limited -- and small business and hard-working families find themselves unable to get their usual loans. Business managers have become not only more cautious about hiring, but some have been reducing their workforce. All of this led to a discouraging jobs report last Friday.
As if this were not enough, oil prices and therefore gas prices have been climbing for well over a year. For a long time, companies and businesses absorbed those increases but recently they have had to pass them on to consumers. The reason the price of milk, eggs and all kinds of goods are up so much is, simply, the increased cost of transporting these products to your store. Even the costs of product containers and cartons -- often made from petroleum products -- have been affected by the rising cost of oil and gas.
So what can we do in the near term?
Let's start with the housing challenges. There is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority number one is to keep well meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes. I am pleased that the Congress is considering bi-partisan reforms to help the mortgage crisis. Bipartisan efforts may not make for great political theater, but they remain the most effective way to address quickly our nation's problems. Bipartisan efforts are also sometimes less than perfect, and I believe we can improve on the legislation before Congress.
I've made my principles in this area clear: Tax breaks for builders, funds to purchase homes in foreclosure, and tax credits that are not targeted to where the need is greatest do not constitute the federal help that is warranted. In some case, lenders and borrowers alike were caught up in the speculative frenzy that has harmed the housing market. And it is not the responsibility of the American public to spare them from the consequences of their own bad judgment. The goal should be to help homeowners who are struggling, and only about $5 billion of the bill addresses their concerns in any way. I believe we can do better.
We can also encourage groups like Neighborworks America and others provide mortgage assistance to homeowners in their communities. And our government can give them the resources to expand their efforts. I also believe that the mortgage lending industry has an obligation to help refinance mortgages. If what I have read about industry-led efforts is true, it appears that a stronger effort could be launched.
I believe a more robust, timely and targeted effort is my HOME plan. It offers every deserving American family or homeowner the opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects the market value of their home. This plan is focused on people. People decide if they need help, they apply for assistance and if approved the government under my HOME Program supports them in getting a new mortgage that they can afford. There will be qualifications which require the home to be a primary residence and the borrower able to afford a new mortgage. We will combine the power of government and the private sector to find immediate solutions for deserving American homeowners.
My plan follows the sound economic principle that when markets decline dramatically, debts must be restructured. It is built on the reality that homeowners should have an equity capital stake in their home. Homeowners would end up with a 30-year mortgage and an equity stake in their home. The new lender would receive a federal guarantee of the mortgage. And the taxpayer gets a benefit if the sale value ever recovers.
The result is a restructured financial arrangement for the homeowner. Over the long term, financial institutions must follow suit, writing off losses, restructuring their balance sheets, and raising more capital.
I am also calling for an immediate DOJ task force to aggressively investigate potential criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage lending and securitization industry. If there were individuals or firms that defrauded innocent homeowners or forged loan application documents, then the punishments of the market are not enough, and they must answer for their conduct in a court of law.
Now let me turn to gas and food prices. We need to help everyone who relies on gas to commute or pick up the kids or get to doctors appointments. As President, I promise to pursue a national energy strategy that won't be another grab bag of handouts and a full employment act for lobbyists. It will promote the diversification and conservation of our energy sources, including a robust expansion of nuclear power, that will in sufficient time break the dominance of oil in our transportation sector.
Right now I think we should stop adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The SPR is intended to offset the impact of physical disruption of oil supplies. But with oil at over $100 a barrel and an adequate supply in the SPR, it is time to suspend purchases. This will lessen worldwide demand for oil, and if the classic laws of supply and demand hold, we should see a welcome decrease in the price of oil. And I ask every American to consider how you can sacrifice a bit for the common good and cut back where you can on your energy use.
Job security may well be the most pressing problem of these challenging economic times. Right now, jobs are in jeopardy and the government backstop is not up to the task. For over a year, I have been calling for a comprehensive reform to our unemployment insurance and displaced worker programs.
In our current unemployment insurance system, benefits are the same regardless of whether a job is found quickly or slowly. There is no reward for work, or getting to work quickly. Training programs are duplicative, balkanized and inefficient. The Department of Labor alone has over a half-dozen programs under different organizational umbrellas.
I propose that we build a new system so that as women and men work, their taxes help to build up a buffer account against lost earnings. Then, if they are unfortunate enough to lose a job, they will be able to better meet their obligations. There will also be no need to wait for a bureaucrat or obey a timetable. Every day will count and give incentives to get back to work.
If new skills are needed, displaced workers should find quick assistance at a community college using a flexible training account that permits them to pay for training and use some of the leftover to keep their health insurance. They will be able to get the hands-on skills needed by employers in the area and move to a new job. And my plan contains special, targeted assistance for older workers.
We also must make health care portable. The biggest fear people have when they lose their job is losing their health insurance. I have proposed comprehensive reforms that will lead to innovative, portable insurance. But we can start by making sure that workers are eligible for affordable coverage under COBRA.
These short term measures are designed to help people where they face the most challenges right now. I think they could make a significant difference in the everyday lives of many people.
Much work remains to be done on addressing the issues and challenges that will ensure we remain the largest and strongest economy in the world in the future. I believe that in order to accomplish this we must do three things. First, we must invest in the greatest resource we have, the American people. Second, we must reignite and drive a spirit of innovation in America. And third, we must foster growth and economic freedom, which really means low and effective taxes, free trade on a level playing field, small government and a smart, enforceable regulatory and legal framework.
Next week I will outline my longer term vision for American economic growth and power. But let me make it clear that in these challenging times, I am committed to using all the resources of this government and great nation to create opportunity and make sure that every deserving American has a good job and can achieve their American dream.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
This is exactly where Sen. McCain's strengths are, and exactly what I cheered for last month. Go for it!
I expect there will be updates and the speech will be released later this morning, and I will update as I receive/find those items...
UPDATE: Apparently this is at a business roundtable in BROOKLYN... anyone have any intelligence on this thing??
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
His opinion on Romney as VP is similar to mine... he would really help on economic issues and in Michigan and western states, which will be key against Obama...
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
They will start in the Senate Armed Services committee at 9:30AM ET. They will then testify and take questions in the afternoon in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. McCain is the ranking Republican member of Armed Services, and will speak and ask questions second, after Chairman Levin.