WASHINGTON--Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) in Chicago on Monday, will tell the National Restaurant Association he appreciates their warm welcome--despite his Democratic rivals calling Chicago "their home town."
After that, in excerpts from his speech released by his campaign, McCain goes on to slam Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the likely Democratic nominee and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as tax twins picking the pockets of taxpayers. McCain also hits Obama on NAFTA, referring to an uproar triggered by domestic policy advisor Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago professor who told a Canadian official Obama may not be serious about wanting to re-negotiate NAFTA.
"It was bad judgment and a bit inconsistent. Senator Obama is fond of scolding others for engaging in the “old-style politics,” but when he plays on fears of foreign trade he’s resorting to the oldest kind of politics there is. It’s the kind of politics that exploits problems instead of solving them, that breeds resentment instead of opportunity," McCain's speech said.
Excerpts From Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
National Restaurant Association
May 19, 2008
Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of the National Restaurant Association and of the city of Chicago. Considering that both of my prospective opponents call this city their home town, I’ve received a very warm welcome here. Many Democratic voters in Illinois are especially proud of their junior senator. They believe more than ever that Barack Obama was the right choice for the Senate in 2004. I couldn’t agree more, and I promise to do everything in my power to help him finish his first term in the United States Senate.
Whoever wins the nomination of the Democratic Party, that candidate and I have some serious debates ahead of us. Some of our sharpest disagreements concern the American economy and how best to help American workers.
The nominees of each party have an obligation to make those choices clear to the American people, in civil and candid debate between now and the fourth of November. And I suggest we start sooner rather than later.
For their part, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton agree on so much in economic policy that it’s not always clear what the big argument is about in their party. The sales pitches are different, but in both cases we’d end up with the same package of more federal taxes, more federal regulation, more government control of the economy, and more government spending. The contest goes on in the Democratic Party. But their economic debate was pretty much over before the first primary vote had been cast. In case you missed it, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama have agreed to raise your taxes, to regulate your business more than ever, and to spend more of your money in Washington. That’s their idea of “change,” but it sure sounds familiar to me.
In economic policy, the disagreements can be plainly stated. The Democratic nominee will allow many of the current low tax rates to expire – effectively imposing, overnight, a tax increase of more than a trillion dollars over the next ten years. In other words, while your industry is planning to create two million jobs over the next decade, they’re planning to tax Americans by another trillion dollars or more. But your plans for growth and their plan for taxes are going to be hard to square, because you can’t raise taxes by a trillion dollars without hurting American workers. That’s true in your industry and in every other. And that is why I propose to follow a different course. As president, I will keep the current low tax rates, and I will leave that trillion dollars and more with the millions of Americans who earned it.
Under the various tax plans of both Democratic candidates, parents, seniors, small business owners, and Americans of every background would pay thousands of dollars in new taxes every year.
One of the most crucial economic issues in this campaign is the ability of American workers to benefit from exports to other nations, and how government policy can help them to do so. And here, too, I welcome the debate with the Democratic nominee.
American workers make and sell about 200 billion dollars worth of heavy machinery to other countries every year. Our companies export more than 70 billion dollars worth of aircraft and parts, more than 148 billion dollars worth of electrical machinery and equipment, 106 billion dollars in cars, trucks, and other vehicles. In all, one of every five American jobs depends on factory exports. And you’ll find a lot of those jobs right here in Illinois, like the workers who made the 48 billion dollars worth of goods that this state alone exported last year. Trade offers new opportunities and higher wages to workers like those at the Boeing and Caterpillar plants here in Chicago, who sell their materials and technologies across the world. Trade is good for small businesses, like the Bison Gear and Engineering Company in nearby St. Charles, which has added fifty new jobs just since 2006.
Yet our success in trading with other nations will be incomplete, and even a little hollow, unless every displaced worker gets a second chance and the training and education they need.
We have to help displaced workers at every turn on a tough road, so that they are not just spectators on the opportunities of others. And I have made that commitment with reforms to expand and improve federal aid to American workers in need. We need to help millions of workers who have lost a job that won’t come back find a new one that won’t go away. As American companies invest abroad, we need to invest in our own country and in our own workers. Our government also needs to protect the interests and safety of consumers, by holding every nation we trade with to the commitments they have made under the agreements we have signed.
For his part, however, Senator Obama has a habit of talking down the value of our exports and trade agreements. He even proposed a unilateral re-negotiation of NAFTA – our agreement with Canada and Mexico that accounts for 33 percent of American exports, and 17 billion dollars’ worth of exports last year just for Illinois. As you may recall, the Senator’s senior economic advisor told a representative of Canada to pay no attention to this anti-trade rhetoric from Senator Obama – it was all just, quote, “political positioning” for the primary elections. But for those of us who were paying attention, what we heard was not impressive. It was bad judgment and a bit inconsistent. Senator Obama is fond of scolding others for engaging in the “old-style politics,” but when he plays on fears of foreign trade he’s resorting to the oldest kind of politics there is. It’s the kind of politics that exploits problems instead of solving them, that breeds resentment instead of opportunity.
If I am elected president, this country will honor its international agreements, including NAFTA, and we will expect the same of others. And in a time of uncertainty for American workers, we will not undo the gains of years in trade agreements now awaiting final approval.
For any trade agreement to work, there must be good faith on both sides, and enforcement in both the letter and spirit of the treaties we ratify. And the good that trade agreements offer to other nations – from South America to Asia to Africa – comes back to us many times over, not only in jobs and prosperity but in greater security for America. Yet sometimes we in Washington have to confront blind spots of our own that interfere with the success of trade, in ways harmful to ourselves and well as others. And last week, in the business of the Senate, we saw this problem once again in the form of a farm bill costing roughly 300 billion dollars. I say “roughly” because nobody is quite sure what the thing will cost, even the people who stuffed it with hundreds of pages of subsidies and tax breaks.
It is a longstanding goal of American trade policy – and a goal I share – to open foreign markets across the world to American farmers. But the biggest obstacle is not to be found in any foreign market, or in the policies of any other government. It’s right there in the Congress of the United States, in the billions of dollars in subsidies served up every five years to corporate farmers. The original idea was to provide a buffer to small farmers in tough times and to assure a stable supply of food for our country. But nowadays, the small farmers have been forgotten, and instead the Congress sends a steady supply of subsidies to agribusiness.
It would be hard to find any single bill that better sums up why so many Americans in both parties are so disappointed in the conduct of their government, and at times so disgusted by it. Here we are at a time when food prices are at historic highs, and farm income is up by 56 percent in just the past two years. Yet even now, the Congress has voted to give billions of dollars in subsidies to some of the biggest and richest agribusiness corporations in America – many of which are heavy political contributors to members in both parties.
Even as American workers and taxpayers struggle to buy food, because of rising prices, the Congress refuses to place real limits on farm subsidies. Most of the subsidies are going to large commercial farms with an average income of two-hundred thousand dollars, and an average net worth of two million dollars. And, of course, along with the subsidies comes the usual harvest of tax breaks, bailouts, and other forms of corporate welfare. To take just a few examples, the thoroughbred industry hit it big this year with 93 million in tax breaks for race horses. The timber industry made off with 260 million dollars in tax breaks. And then there’s a company that describes itself as, quote, “the largest and most geographically diverse land owner in the nation.” That doesn’t sound like a hardship case to me. But the Congress has just voted to give that same company 250 million dollars in public money.
Ladies and gentlemen, when both parties in the House and Senate carry on like this, and show such incredible disregard for the public treasury and for the public interest, there is only one proper response – and that is a presidential veto. That is exactly what I would do as president, regardless of the vote count. I would veto that bill, and all others like it that serve only the cause of special interests and corporate welfare. And I would take my case to the American people themselves.
Lost in all of this deal-making and money-grabbing in Washington is not only the common good in our own country, but a concern for other people across the world – people who look to us for an example of fairness and honesty. When the United States and Europe subsidize our biggest agricultural producers, we distort global prices and we hurt the world’s poorest farmers in Africa and elsewhere. These men and women wonder how our government can live with such policies, even at the expense of our own citizens. They believe that our massive subsidies to American producers are a form of protectionism, helping already rich companies at the expense of people and nations in need. They think that these corporate subsidies are inconsistent with our own standards and ideals, and with the good heart of America. And my friends, they are right.
If I am elected president, I will seek an end to all agricultural tariffs, and to all farm subsidies that are not based on clear need. I will veto any bill containing special-interest favors and corporate welfare in any form. We’re going to base our farm policy on the common good, with policies that help our small farmers to succeed, and our rural communities to survive and flourish once again. We’re going to help American producers large and small to compete in foreign markets – because we know they are up to the challenge, without need of unfair advantages and billion-dollar favors. We’re going to help developing countries in every way we can – by sharing our technologies, by supporting micro-credit banking programs in Africa and elsewhere, and above all by setting an example of fair dealing with other nations.