Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr. Biz Whiz

John McCain told a room full of small business owners, the other day, that Barack Obama is bad news for business. McCain even went so far as to criticize the Democratic party hopeful for being willing to reconsider NAFTA.

It's a good thing Senator McCain acknowledges that economics isn't his strong suit given that, since 2001, the U.S. has lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs, and nearly 1 million professional, and information service, positions, and NAFTA trade deficits alone have resulted in the loss of hundreds and thousands of jobs.

Nor does it come as breaking news to most of us that real wages have stagnated in the past thirty-odd years, and have actually fallen in the past year. As reporter David Cay Johnston points out, the average annual income, for the upper one percent of the population, has increased by 650%, since 1975, while "the vast majority" have lost about 3% in annual income.

So, how is it then, that something can be good for small businesses when it's bad for small businessmen?

It's the same old song, since the great Depression, of the rich getting richer while the rest of us shine their shoes, but not since the 1920's has the disparity between rich and poor been this great. It's not only working Americans that are getting poorer. Thanks to this administration, which posted an unparalled $374 billion budget deficit in 2003, one that is projected to rise to $631 billion--nearly twice that--before Mr. Bush leaves office, the government is getting poorer, too. If things keep up at this rate, the U.S. Treasury may have to file for bankruptcy protection.

This president, whose tax policies have clearly favored the rich and corporations, are the model from which John McCain draws as he looks to greater deregulation, cutting even more taxes for corporations, and expanding NAFTA, all at the expense of federal programs. As we know, McCain vows to keep Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest, adding another $300 billion a year to an already bloated budget deficit. In fact, the senator from Arizona told his audience of small businessmen that he even plans to help them "write off some new investments." How about allowing you and me to write off the cost of gas?

Far from it. John McCain, along with his colleagues in the Senate, blocked a windfall profits tax on oil companies, and unless voters fill more Senate seats with Democrats, in November, you can bet that if elected #44, McCain will also veto any efforts, by Congress, to provide financial relief to those in foreclosure, penalize the excessive interest-gouging of the credit card companies, and eliminate what amounts to a $17 billion tax break, or governmental subsidy, to the oil companies over the next ten years.

Think about this: if McCain is elected president, and the Democrats win a majority of seats in the Senate, (they now have a majority in the House), he will already be a lame duck in his first term of office.

Okay, fair is fair. The senator from Arizona has already confessed that he needs a refresher course in Economics 101, and we believe him. After all, he wants to add another $300 billion a year to the deficit. His reputation, he reminds us, was built on his war hero record, as well as his championing of what he likes to think is ethical government, as well as proving his mettle as a staunch adversary of special interests by taking on the likes of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

While he has, in the past, admitted having lobbyists work for his campaign, McCain has been quick to point out their "honorable records." Clearly, this crusader against corporate lobbies facade wears thin when you consider revelations by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Washington Post, that John McCain's campaign staffers include high profile telecom immunity lobbyists.

That's right, two powerhouse lobbyists, Charlie Black, and Wayne Berman, each representing AT & T and Verizon , respectively, play pivotal roles in the Republican presidential candidate's campaign. Black is to McCain what Rove was to Bush. Berman is McCain's national finance co-chair. What exactly are these lobbyists trying to peddle? Nothing less than immunity from prosecution for telecommunication companies, AT & T and Verizon, that broke privacy laws when eavesdropping on phone calls , and turning over private consumer records to the federal government without a warrant.

McCain who spoke out against companies that violate their customers' confidence, several months ago, saying that "their actions undermine our respect for the law," now asserts that he supports immunity for telecommunication companies, unqualifiedly, if they help in a governmental investigation. In fact, he goes so far as to say that neither the government nor the telecoms have to apologize for acts that only "the ACLU and trial lawyers" would question. My, my, the Arizona senator is a quick study. He's already using the ACLU for target practice.

Too bad Spiro Agnew isn't around to run as McCain's vice president.

It's clear that not only will McCain have to outsource decisions that deal with abstinence-only programs as a requirement for HIV/AIDS funding, the economy, but he may even have to outsource ethics investigations due to an egregious conflict of interest.

We know---the president doesn't make the laws, but he sure gets to break them, doesn't he?

By flip flopping on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's surveillance program, and giving key telecom lobbyists prominent play in his campaign, the presumptive presidential heir apparent to the throne shows that he, too, can be bought.