McCain-Palin promise no bailouts like Freddie-Fannie

Republican White House hopefuls John McCain and Sarah Palin slammed the federal rescue of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as “outrageous” but needed in a joint editorial published Tuesday.

“The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another outrageous, but sadly necessary, step for these two institutions,” after years of mismanagement, the pair wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “Given the long-term mismanagement and flawed structure of these two companies, this was the only short-term alternative for ensuring that hard-working Americans have access to affordable mortgages during this difficult economic period.” Presidential candidate McCain and his running-mate Palin called for permanent reform of the mortgage firms, saying that legislative failure led to “crisis management rather than sound planning.” If the Republican ticket were to win the White House, “we will make sure that they are permanently restructured and downsized, and no longer use taxpayer backing to serve lobbyists, management, boards and shareholders.” The pair warned that all federal spending would face scrutiny at the start of a McCain-Palin administration if they were to win the November 4 vote. “In the first 100 days of our administration, we will look at every agency and department and expenditure of the federal government and ask this simple question: Is it serving the needs of the taxpayer? If it is not, we will reform it or shut it down, and we will spend money only on what is truly in the interest of the American people,” they wrote. Under the plan announced at the weekend, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will get government-appointed chief executives and shed their mission of shareholder profit. The Treasury agreed to inject 100 billion dollars in each if needed. As expected, shares in the two firms were nearly wiped out in trade Monday — Freddie Mac plunged 83 percent to 88 cents and Fannie Mae slid 89 percent to 73 cents in closing trade. Overall stocks were higher, however. Fannie Mae was originally a government agency created during the Great Depression to help provide liquidity for housing. It was privatized in 1968 and Freddie Mac was chartered by Congress in 1970 to provide competition. advertising

Palin agrees with Bush even more than McCain

As he wrapped up his interview with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this evening, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann asked about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and whether she is ready to be president. Obama demurred on that question, but told Countdown’s host that he has a different problem with Palin — he thinks she would be even more inclined to continue the Bush administration’s policies than McCain would be:


Olbermann: “One more campaign question. It pertains to not knowing someone or something. This is a question I have not really heard asked directly of anybody in a position perhaps to answer it, let alone answered.

“In your opinion, is Governor Palin experienced enough and qualified enough to become president of the United States in the relatively short-term future?

Obama: “Well, you know, I’ll let you ask Governor Palin that when I’m sure she’ll be appearing on your show.

“But rather than focus on a resume, I just want to focus on where she wants to take the country.

“As far as I can tell, there has not been any area, economic policy or foreign policy, in which she is different from John McCain or George Bush.

“In many ways, in fact, she agrees with George Bush even more than John McCain. So if John McCain agrees with Bush 90% of the time, maybe with her it’s 97%. And so my — the thrust of our argument is going to be that the McCain-Palin ticket is offering the same stuff that has resulted in the middle class struggling, not seeing their incomes go up, seeing their costs go up, falling deeper into debt, at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, unable to save or retire.

“Those are going to be I think the issues that ultimately matter to the voters, and that’s why I’m trying to offer to them a very clear set of prescriptions, very clear ideas about what we intend to do, how we want to change the tax code, stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, give 95% of Americans tax relief.

“Have an energy policy that is serious about climate change, is serious about weaning ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil, investing in solar and wind and biodiesel so we’ve got energy independence and creating jobs here in the United States, having a health care system that makes sure that we don’t have 47 million people without health insurance.

“That message of possibility is, I think, the one that the American people are looking for.”

Part two of Olbermann’s interview airs tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET. As we noted earlier, the interview Obama taped with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly for The O’Reilly Factor also continues tomorrow and Wednesday evenings, also at 8 p.m. ET.

MCCAIN THE MAVERICK

John McCain has an impressive personal story. Imprisoned by the North Vietnamese for five and a half years, mostly in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” he showed great courage, resilience and reservoirs of strength. It is the central narrative of his life, a theme he returns to again and again.


In choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain picked another politician with an interesting personal narrative. Hers isn’t heroic — as his is — but it is still inspiring. A mother of five, she overcame long odds to oust the entrenched Republican governor in 2006. When she and her husband learned their fifth child would be born with Down syndrome, they didn’t terminate the pregnancy. That’s a decision I and many other Americans find admirable.

McCain hopes those compelling biographies will be enough to take him and his running mate over the line in November. Since personality matters as much as (and sometimes more than) policies — George W. Bush was elected in 2000 because he was Mr. Congeniality — the Arizona senator has decided to give short shrift to issues and go all out on charming personal stories.

“This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates,” his campaign manager, Rick Davis, told The Washington Post last week.

So it’s no surprise McCain’s acceptance speech on Thursday night was heavy on biography and short on policy prescriptions. The short film that introduced him offered a romantic, Hollywood-esque arc: A rambunctious young man trying to earn his place in a family of war heroes goes off to the Naval Academy and becomes a fighter pilot; he is chastened by the torture he endures at the hands of his enemies; the young hero not only survives but triumphs, winning a seat in the U.S. Senate. It’s quite a tale, with the added dimension of truth.

McCain seemed most comfortable when he was speaking of the ideals he embraced in those years — honor, service, courage. But he was oddly lifeless and unconvincing when he rattled off a laundry list of domestic issues, touching on “school choice,” health insurance and taxes. That’s clearly not where his heart is.

Even less persuasive was his attempt to snatch the mantle of change from his rival, Barack Obama. (How many times did he use the word “change”?) McCain is 72 years old; besides, he is a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, which has held power for the last eight years. It’s hard to run as an insurgent if you’ve been part of the establishment.

The aging war hero apparently believes that he is still the “maverick,” the daring, even swashbuckling, senator who bucks a Republican machine to serve the interests of the people above the party — a “Mr. Smith” played by John Wayne instead of Jimmy Stewart. But that McCain gave up the good fight after his crushing defeat at the hands of Bush forces in the 2000 Republican presidential primary. Since then, the “maverick” has set about ingratiating himself to the same establishment he now vows to fight. He has adopted nearly every one of Bush’s failed policies.

Don’t be fooled by Palin. She’s just a fresh face to rev up the culture wars. She opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest; she urged an Alaska librarian to ban books; she believes “creationism” should be taught in public schools; she asked ministry students at her former church to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it “God’s will.” In choosing her, McCain caved in to the rigid Christianists who now form the core of the GOP.

Still, his gamble could well pay off. Even in a year when voters say they agree with Democrats on most issues, the polls still show the presidential contenders virtually tied. It’s a very close race.

No wonder. The John McCain on display as he closed his speech, speaking passionately of duty and sacrifice, is still a compelling figure. That McCain, who has not always been on display this season, is a man who wants to resist partisanship, a man who wants to clean up corruption, a man who would shrink from the vicious attacks his campaign has, in fact, run against Obama. If voters believe in that McCain and think that’s all the country needs, he wins.

But if the campaign is fought on the issues, McCain loses. That’s why he stays away from them.

McCain & Obama Joint 9/11 Plans

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama said yesterday that they would put aside partisan politics for a joint appearance at ground zero to mark the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, in a statement, said they would appear together at the World Trade Center site on Thursday “to honor the memory of each and every American who died” in the 2001 attacks.

The campaigns already had agreed to suspend television advertising critical of each other on Sept. 11. The McCain campaign has said it will air no ads that day.

Both campaigns have been running negative television ads and, at the just-concluded political conventions, pulled no punches in exploiting partisan differences.

Obama and McCain said Thursday would be different.

“All of us came together on 9/11 – not as Democrats or Republicans – but as Americans,” they said. “We were united as one American family. On Thursday, we will put aside politics and come together to renew that unity.”

A group backing community service, MyGoodDeed.org, wants Sept. 11 to become a national day of voluntary service and had asked that Obama and McCain perform acts of community service instead of campaigning.


Obama and McCain: 1st Job is Lowering Taxes

Job No. 1 for the next president? In the minds of an overwhelming number of Americans, it’s fixing what ails the sick economy. What the voters will have to sort out are very different approaches offered by Barack Obama and John McCain.

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Both of their fix-up plans rely heavily on tax cuts, but in sharply different ways that speak to the historic differences between Democrats and Republicans.

McCain, borrowing a page from Ronald Reagan and President Bush, would keep tax rates low for higher-income taxpayers and slash rates for corporations, arguing that this is the way to jump-start a lethargic economy and create more jobs.

Obama, focusing on a theme of many past Democratic campaigns, seeks to target his help to the squeezed middle class and address the growing income inequality between rich and poor. He would retain all of the Bush tax cuts for families making less than $250,000 a year, but would do away with Bush’s cuts for people making more than that.

The money raised from tax increases on the wealthy would be redirected by Obama to tax relief for lower-income Americans.

Unlike a lot of campaign debates where the promises of neither side get enacted into law, this war of words will make a difference because all of Bush’s tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010.

Since neither party wants to go back to the tax rates in effect before 2001, whoever wins will have to work with Congress to pass legislation shaping how the tax code will look beyond 2010. At stake will be billions of dollars.

Under Obama, the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers, those making roughly $600,000 or more, would see their taxes go up on average by $93,709 in 2009, according to an analysis done by the Tax Policy Center, because Obama would begin implementing his tax changes even before the scheduled expiration of the Bush cuts.


Under McCain, those same taxpayers would see an average reduction of $48,860, reflecting in part additional cuts he is proposing.

By contrast, the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers, those with taxable income of roughly $19,000 per year or less, would see their taxes cut by an average of $567 under Obama’s program and $21 under McCain’s plan, the tax center estimates.

For the 20 percent of taxpayers right in the middle of the income scale, making roughly between $37,600 and $66,400, the tax break would be $1,118 under the Obama plan and $325 under the McCain plan in 2009, according to the analysis done by the tax center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, two Washington think tanks.

In addition to tax cuts, both presidential candidates are out promising voters a lot of programs in the areas of health care, energy and education.

But the outlook for the federal budget is much darker now than in 2000. In that year, candidate Bush traveled the country promoting across-the-board tax cuts as a way to fix what ailed America in the wake of a sudden slowdown in growth and a bursting of the bubble in high-tech stocks.

With the Congressional Budget Office and others forecasting record-breaking surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion over the decade, it seemed like a good idea to a lot of Washington policymakers to return a part of those surpluses in the form of a $1.35 trillion tax cut passed in 2001 and a follow-up measure in 2003.

The problem was that the surplus forecast turned out to be wildly inaccurate because of an unforeseen recession that began in 2001 just as Bush was taking office and the soaring costs of fighting a global war on terror that began in the wake of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The federal books were in the black in 2001 — for the fourth consecutive year — but since then, the U.S. has returned to running huge deficits, including the largest in history in dollar terms, a $413 billion imbalance in 2004.

Now, with the government pumping out $106.7 billion to Americans in stimulus payments to keep all the problems in housing and the credit markets from pushing the country into a deep recession, the deficits are surging again.

The CBO predicts a $400 billion imbalance this year, and the administration is forecasting that the deficit for the next budget year that begins Oct. 1 will hit an all-time high of $482 billion.

That forecast doesn’t include the cost of the government takeover announced by the administration on Sunday of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That effort, which has the potential of adding tens of billions of dollars to the deficits in the short run, won the qualified backing of both Obama and McCain.

The CBO’s current forecast for the next decade doesn’t look that bad on paper, projecting the budget will go into the black in 2012, giving the country a small surplus of $270 billion over the next 10 years.

However, that forecast comes with a warning label. The CBO has to make its estimates based on current law, which has the Bush tax cuts expiring after 2010 and makes no provisions for further outlays to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax on the wealthy from hitting millions of middle-income taxpayers, a huge expense every year.

The economic plans that McCain and Obama have put forward do include the billions needed to deal with the AMT plus extending the Bush tax cuts. McCain would extend all of them except the total elimination of the estate tax, while Obama would extend only the cuts for individual taxpayers making less than $200,000 annually or couples making less than $250,000.

With those big-ticket tax cuts plus the impact of other changes in the tax code included, McCain’s plans would slash revenues by $4.2 trillion over the next decade while Obama’s reduction would be a slightly smaller $2.9 trillion. Both would transform the CBO’s small surplus over the 10-year period into big deficits, according to the tax center.

The two campaigns argue that it is not fair to hold them to the unrealistic CBO baseline. Rather, the campaigns like to compare their proposals to a current policy baseline which assumes the Bush tax cuts are extended and the AMT is patched every year. Under that baseline, according to the tax center, McCain’s plan would cut taxes by $596 billion over the next decade; Obama’s would increase taxes by $627 billion during the same period, reflecting the fact that Obama is raising tax rates on the wealthy and boosting the taxes they pay on dividends and capital-gains earnings. Obama is also not embracing McCain’s proposal to cut the top rate on corporate taxes.

Regardless of the baseline used, the government’s debt would go up sharply — by $3.5 trillion under the Obama plan and by $5 trillion over the next decade under McCain’s plan, the tax center estimates.

While both campaigns argue they are not getting enough credit for their plans to cut spending, history shows that campaigns always pledge to pay for their tax cuts but seldom achieve that goal because spending cuts prove much more difficult to get through Congress.

And how about the overall goals — McCain’s effort to give the country a boost by cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations and Obama’s efforts to narrow income inequality?

Economists say there are things to like in both programs. They generally favor reductions in top rates as a way to spur new investment and job creation, so on that point McCain’s program gets good marks. However, there are worries that the higher deficits that are expected because of the tax cuts could drive up interest rates, raising the cost of money for businesses and result in less investment, not more.

For Obama, the concern is that all of his new and expanded tax credits, such as his “Making Work Pay” refundable credit which would provide low-income workers with a maximum of $500 per individual and $1,000 per family, will further complicate an already complex tax system and won’t make a very big dent in the problems of income inequality.

And neither candidate is talking very much about tackling what all experts see as the biggest budgetary challenge facing the next president — the explosion in the government’s big benefit programs for Social Security and Medicare as the baby boomers retire.

Obama has proposed levying a 2 percent to 4 percent tax on payroll earnings above $250,000 a decade from now to deal with Social Security, but experts say that would fix only a small part of the problem with the pension program. And neither campaign has put forward any proposals that experts say would make a meaningful dent in fixing Medicare, the far bigger entitlement problem because of soaring health care costs.

Some experts see tax increases, not cuts, in the country’s future regardless of who wins the presidency.

“We are starting out with very big deficits, and the demographics are turning more unfavorable with all the baby boomer retirements,” said Nigel Gault, senior economist at Global Insight, a Lexington, Mass., forecasting firm. “The deeper you get into the next presidency, the more likelihood that taxes will have to be raised.”

Media Attacks on Bristol Palin

Since last Friday, there have been rumors circulating around the leftard blogosphere, and in particular at the Daily POS (which is living up to its name), about Sarah Palin and her youngest child Trig. The Kossack rumor mill has been attacking the Alaskan Governor’s daughter in their questioning of the validity of the birth of Palin’s 5th child. The rumor mongers over at the POS have been claiming “proof” that Palin didn’t give birth to Trig, rather that Bristol, the Palin’s 17 year old daughter, had. And to protect Bristol, Gov. Palin claimed that the child was hers.

Now their “proof” is a picture of the Palin family where Bristol looks as if she may have a “baby bump” when in actuality the picture is from 2006. If that picture is proof that Bristol was preggers with Trig, then that was the longest pregnancy known to man.


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Time for some facts campers…

Trig has Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21) which has been known to occur at a higher rate when the mothers are over the age of 40. Gov. Palin is 44. So that jives.

Today Gov. Palin announced that Bristol is 5 months pregnant. If this is true, and there is no reason why they would lie about this tidbit of information, then Bristol became pregnant a month BEFORE Trig was born. Can we say – rumor quashed!

With today’s announcement, the big question has been did McCain know about Bristol’s pregnancy before choosing Palin? That question has too been answered.

Senior McCain campaign officials said McCain knew of the daughter’s pregnancy when he selected Palin last week as his vice presidential running mate, deciding that it did not disqualify the 44-year-old governor in any way.


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“The despicable rumors that have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama’s name in them, is a real anchor around the Democratic ticket, pulling them down in the mud in a way that certainly juxtaposes themselves against their ‘campaign of change,’” a senior aide said. SOURCE

In other words, the left has nothing to go after Gov. Palin about, therefore have nothing to go after McCain about, so they have to make up vicious rumors attacking an innocent 17 year old girl and drag her into the political mud because it gives them their jollies. The Clintons demanded that the media leave Chelsea alone and they did. Even after they paraded her out on stage to make speeches about her mother – the press wasn’t permitted to ask her questions. I think it only right that the same courtesy be afforded to Bristol Palin.

That said, what of today’s announcement?

Bristol’s decision to have and keep her baby is the admirable thing to do. Making a decision in line with her family’s stance of life would be expected. The only choice one has at this point is whether to keep the child or offer it up for adoption by another family. Bristol chose to keep her baby. It is one that she must have come to after a long conversation with her mother and father. Her decision to marry the baby’s father says a lot about him as well. He isn’t shirking his responsibilities in a day when men seem to think that it is acceptable to spread their seed throughout the world without consequence.

So now can we put this tabloid trash behind us and focus on what is important to this nation? Bristol’s pregnancy is a fact of life that is faced by millions of Americans each year. Dealt with.

UPDATE 9/1/08 1617 EDT:

From the Politico –

“I have said before and I will repeat again: People’s families are off limits,” Obama said. “And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18 and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics.”

On charges that his campaign has stoked the story via liberal blogs:

“I am offended by that statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us,” he said. “Our people were not involved in any way in this, and they will not be. And if I thought there was somebody in my campaign who was involved in something like that, they would be fired.”

It’s about freakin’ time the Obamassiah chimed in.