Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig, where this article originally appeared. His latest book is The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America(Twelve).
Let me now defend white males. We can’t possibly be as dumb as the polls showing we are John McCain’s most reliable voting base would indicate. Do we white men believe for an instant that a vote for McCain would not represent more of President Bush’s failed economic policies at home and costly military adventures abroad? If we don’t hold such a belief, why are a majority of us expected to vote against the positive change that Barack Obama so clearly represents?
Most of us know how to read, and can even Google, so why would we think that GOP candidate McCain, who has supported Bush on every one of his economic initiatives, is now the anti-Bush? What exactly did McCain mean when he said, referring to his Democratic opponent during a campaign speech in Ohio on Monday, “We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy”?
Is McCain unaware that he consistently voted for the red ink run up by the Bush administration, or was he having a senior moment when he said that same day, “We cannot spend the next four years as we spent much of the last eight: spending ourselves into a ditch, and hoping that the consequences don’t come”?
The only time McCain took issue with Bush’s economic policy was in his short-lived criticism of the tax cut for the rich–a strategy he now defends. But if McCain doesn’t increase taxes for someone, just how does he plan to pay for the enormous Iraq war debt, now vastly compounded by the banking bailout? On Monday McCain gave his answer: “I will freeze government spending on all but the most important programs, like defense, veterans’ care, Social Security and healthcare, until we scrub every single government program and get rid of the ones that aren’t working for the American people.”
Is he kidding? If he doesn’t curtail those programs, which make up almost the entire federal budget, then he’s talking about chump change in possible cuts. There just isn’t enough money in those earmarks that McCain goes on about to make a dent in the massive national debt.
President Bush’s treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, left our collective credit card on Wall Street, where the bankers are once again to be trusted to regulate themselves. Are there any white males out there still so in the dark that they don’t know that the radical banking deregulation legislation that McCain pushed so aggressively is what legally enabled those he condemned on Monday as “the Wall Street bankers and brokers who got us into this mess”? Have they never heard of Phil Gramm, the man McCain picked to co-chair his presidential campaign, who sponsored the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act–both of which made legal, for the first time since the Great Depression, the credit swaps and hybrid instruments at the heart of the Wall Street scams?
Call me naïve, but I think white males, startled by job cuts and the devastation wreaked upon their retirement savings, are finally getting the point: someone’s got to pay for this mess, and better those who got rich off the stock market theft than the rest of us.
Can you imagine the uproar now if the McCain-Bush plan to privatize Social Security by linking it to stock purchases had become law? And have you noticed that the Wall Street crooks are not using the bailout money to ease credit but rather to line their golden parachutes? They know how to take care of their retirement.
I don’t think McCain gets that the rest of us could use a bit more lift from the government safety net. That’s the same federal support that GM CEO Rick Wagoner asked about when he went, hat in hand, to Washington on Monday to lobby for a $10 billion gift to keep his company out of bankruptcy. Or is the CEO of GM just another tax-and-spend socialist?