John McCain slithered down to the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans last week just to walk a few blocks and tell the American public how appalled he is by the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. To the area hardest hit by Katrina, he vowed, "never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way it was handled." This is classic political posturing to help McCain look like somebody who might actually have an ounce of empathy for the downtrodden. John McCain was an active member of the Senate throughout the entire Katrina ordeal. To suggest that he was surprised about the Bush administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina is hypocrisy at its best. In fact, he helped to shape that response by voting down several measures that would have helped the Katrina victims.
McCain voted against the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill of 2006, which would have provided, among other funding, $28 billion for hurricane relief. He also voted against a measure to provide emergency health care and other types of much-needed relief to Katrina survivors, such as access to Medicaid, $800 million in compensation to those providing care to Katrina evacuees, and access to the TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) Contingency Fund for the states affected by Katrina and those taking in Katrina evacuees. If John McCain truly cares about ensuring a more appropriate response to the next natural disaster, then why did he vote – not once but twice – against establishing a commission to provide a "post mortem" review of the response to Katrina? The final insult came in 2005 when McCain voted against extending up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. These are not the votes of a compassionate conservative.
The ultimate indignity for the people of New Orleans is John McCain using their city as a political prop, painting himself as the 'kinder, gentler' GOP candidate and vowing that such a disgraceful response will not happen if he's elected. That's great John, but the people of New Orleans are probably wondering just exactly what you're going to do to help them out of the mess they are in right now. When asked about rebuilding the lower 9th Ward, he fumbled around for an answer that ended up being clear in the end: He didn't know if he would rebuild it or tear it down if he is elected president. I'm sure it's a comfort to those who live there that McCain can authorize a $12 billion-a-month war but he cannot commit to providing affordable housing in an area devastated by natural disaster. There's something wrong about that.
The unkindest 'cuts' of all
McCain's PR handlers and the mainstream media can spin him any way they want, but his actions are at direct odds with what they want us to believe. In 2001, after being defeated by Bush, he voted against the administration's tax cuts. From the Senate floor he stated that he could not "in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us, at the expense of the middle class Americans who most need tax relief." That was six years ago when he had lost his bid for the presidency and was, by several accounts, disgusted with the way the Bush campaign was waged.
It's 2008 and John McCain is fighting for his political life. Do not ever misjudge his drive to become president. Bush's tax cuts will expire in 2010 and now Mr. McCain is in favor of making the majority of those cuts permanent (the one exception being the inheritance tax). Nothing has changed about them. The cuts are still weighted to the wealthiest people in America. What has changed is McCain's situation and whom he must assuage to reach what he no doubt feels is his destiny. It gets even more ugly when McCain is left to think for himself. He also has his own plan to eliminate the alternative minimum tax (originally created to prevent the wealthy from exploiting tax loopholes) and reduce the tax rate on corporate profits. The middle class may not be the only victim of McCain's tax plan. Some experts are concerned about the nation's solvency should this plan go into effect.
One other connection here that is rarely made by the mainstream media is the fact that John McCain's net worth is in the $40 million dollar range. His wife is the chairwoman of the third-largest Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship in the nation. They also have impressive real estate holdings. It is said that McCain and his wife own eight homes. Seems that the McCain family is in a perfect position to reap the benefits of those tax breaks. The media attention McCain receives for his position of wealth is minimal compared to the scrutiny given to John Kerry and John Edwards. McCain's supporters, of course, point out that it's really not his wealth. It's his wife's. So was John Kerry's, but that didn't stop the media from having a field day with it.
Throwing the public a bone
McCain's extraordinary compassion has inspired him to suggest rescinding the 18-cent gas tax through the summer. It saves the public about sixty cents a day (or $4.20 per week; just about where gas will be per gallon this summer). McCain went on to place his foot in his mouth by acknowledging it's not much money, but it will provide the American people with a "little psychological boost." This is absolutely useless to the people suffering sticker shock at the food stores and getting gouged for profits at the gas pumps. By the way, the money for this idea would be taken from funds used to build and maintain our roads and bridges. This money actually does create jobs and stimulate the economy.
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