Back in November of 2007 Republican John McCain said to the Wall Street Journal, "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." McCain went on to point out that he was accompanied by his close adviser and former Senate colleague Phil Gramm who was an expert in economic matters. Phil Gramm would later become McCain's top economic advisor and only a few months ago said that Americans were suffering from a "mental recession" and that all the economic doom and gloom was really just in our heads and that we had become a nation of whiners. Despite this obvious gaffe, Phil Gramm has been instrumental in helping McCain craft his economic policy which most outside economists say is nothing more than a continuation of the current Bush policies.
Unfortunately our senior citizens in Florida and throughout the country for that matter are dependent on a president who can change the current course that we are on before we plunge our economy off a cliff. Sadly many of these senior citizens lived through the "Great Depression" of the late 1920's as children and probably thought they would never have to live through something like that again.
By continuing the devastating economic policies of the Bush administration McCain's lack of understanding of the basic "fundamental" problems with the current economy will continue to strip seniors of their precious retirement savings. Couple this with the continued deregulation and privatization of our healthcare system that is also in crisis and the growing population of senior citizens in Florida will be faced with the catastrophic combination of skyrocketing health care costs and an ever shrinking wallet and retirement account.
In just the first three days of this week the Dow Jones component of the stock market has compiled a cumulative loss of 812 points and an evaporation of $1.12 trillion in shareholder wealth and retirement savings. On Monday when the stock market plunged 504 points, the largest loss since the 9/11 attacks, McCain said in a stump speech in Jacksonville, Florida that the economy was "fundamentally strong".
Figure 1. This Weeks Stock Market Collapse
Even Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, said this past weekend that the United States economy is in no condition to finance McCain's tax cut plan with borrowed money. Alan Greenspan went on to say that the current economic crisis is a "once in a century" event requiring the utmost care and attention to reverse the current course.
It's no secret that McCain's economic advisor Phil Gramm is a strong advocate for deregulation of the financial industry. As a senator Phil Gramm was the chief architect of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed much of the Glass - Steagall act of 1933. The Glass - Steagall act was put into place after the "Great Depression" to establish the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and to provide regulations designed to control dangerous speculation within the banking industry. Most everyone is familiar with the FDIC which is a federal guarantee program that insures deposits up to $100,000 per account if a bank fails. Thankfully the FDIC was not also repealed. However, with the current U.S. deficit now over $9.6 trillion, if a nationwide failure of banks occurred there is some doubt as to whether the federal government would have the collateral to uphold all the FDIC guarantees. As Senator Harry Reid said yesterday no one really knows for sure what will happen and "we are in new territory, this is a different game".
Many of the 21,000 investors in Lincoln were elderly customers and lost their entire life savings because they did not realize their investments were not federally insured. Many were left destitute while Keating was bailed out and maintained a lavish lifestyle. Mary MacElveen of OpEdNews just wrote an interesting piece on the McCain - Keating debacle and quipped, "I wonder what has happened to those elderly citizens that lost everything after the collapse of Mr. Keatings Lincoln Savings and Loan." Republican John McCain along with five other U.S. senators were investigated for their involvment with Keating and the scandal became know as the Keating Five.
All of these events call into serious question, McCain's judgement on economic matters. The vast majority of Americans can convincingly say they are NOT better off now than they were 8 years ago. And to the 95% of Americans that did not reap the benefits from the Bush tax cuts and who have had to live through 300% increases in gas, 50% increases in milk, 42 - 70% increases in prescription drugs, and 74% increases in healthcare premiums [reference], all McCain can say is stay the course. AARP recently stated that the two biggest concerns for its members and retirees in the coming years are "access to affordable quality health care and lifetime economic security".
A new CNN/Times poll [reference] has Barack Obama picking up 5-6 points in Florida and is now deadlocked with McCain at 48% apiece. It appears that senior citizens are starting to see the writing on the wall and that their health and economic survival depends on Barack Obama winning the presidency in November.