John McCain on the Economy

Sen. John McCain’s remarks on the credit crisis and the economy generally are a lot more sensible than the observations published in the Washington Post that I commented on a couiple of days ago:

I am prepared to examine new proposals and evaluate them based on these principals. But I think we need to do two things right away. First, it is time to convene a meeting of the nation’s accounting professionals to discuss the current mark to market accounting systems. We are witnessing an unprecedented situation as banks and investors try to determine the appropriate value of the assets they are holding and there is widespread concern that this approach is exacerbating the credit crunch.

We should also convene a meeting of the nation’s top mortgage lenders. Working together, they should pledge to provide maximum support and help to their cash-strapped, but credit worthy customers. They should pledge to do everything possible to keep families in their homes and businesses growing. Recall that immediately after September 11, 2001 General Motors stepped in to provide 0 percent financing as part of keeping the economy growing. We need a similar response by the mortgage lenders. They’ve been asking the government to help them out. I’m now calling upon them to help their customers, and their nation out. It’s time to help American families.

More important than the events of the past is the promise of the future. The American economy is resilient and diverse. Even as financial troubles weigh upon it other parts of the economy hold up or even continue to grow. I have spoken at length in other settings about the need to keep taxes low on our families, entrepreneurs, and small businesses; to make the tax code simpler and fair by eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax that the middle class was never intended to pay; to improve the ability of our companies to compete by reducing our corporate tax rate, which today are the second highest rates in the world;to provide investment incentives; to control rising health care costs that threaten the budgets of our businesses and families; to improve education and training programs; and to ensure our ability to sell to the 95 percent of the world’s customers that lie outside U.S. borders.

It doesn’t mollify me completely, however. I continue to think he’s seeing markets where there are no markets. And one doesn’t just elect a candidate, one elects an entire team and if his team is full of ideological airheads, a candidate with sound ideas isn’t a great deal of help. I also think that his allergy to taxes is unrealistic. I see no signs that the American people are willing to accept large cuts in programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the military. Indeed, all of the likely residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 2009 are proposing increases in one or all of those areas and, since they comprise most of the total budget, fiscal sanity means you’re either going to cut those programs or increase taxes. There really is no other way.

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