McCain policies are bad for Boilermakers

Newton B. Jones, International President

GOP candidate promotes corporations and the wealthy over workers

THE CANDIDACY OF Senator John McCain is an enigma. His reputation as a “straight-shooter” and a “maverick” has convinced many Democrats and Independents he would be a welcome change from the current administration. But his voting record and public statements — particularly during the past two years — depict a candidate who offers no change at all.

Since President Bush took office in 2001, McCain has voted to support his positions 89 percent of the time. Since January 2007, McCain’s support has grown to 95 percent.

And when you analyze his public statements on the issues that most greatly affect working Americans — the economy, trade, taxes, health care, Social Security, OSHA, prevailing wages, and many others — he begins to sound exactly like Bush.

But apparently many American voters have not figured that out yet. Bush’s approval rating has sunk to 28 percent — in the past 50 years, only Richard Nixon has polled lower. Yet a March 2008 poll gave McCain a 67 percent approval rating among voters. Considering how close their positions are, this survey result does not make sense.

McCain is neither a straight-shooter, nor a maverick

THIS DISCREPANCY MAY be explained by McCain’s ability to get away with being deceptive. During his 2000 presidential campaign, McCain dubbed his tour bus the “Straight-Talk Express,” convincing journalists and the public that he was a rare entity in the political world — a candidate who did not “spin” the truth, but always gave an honest, straightforward answer — even if it made him look bad.

Perhaps, in 2000, he was. Not in 2008. These days he spins like a top, claiming one day that he doesn’t “know as much about economics” as he should, and a month later claiming to be “well-versed in economics.” Then there is his now-infamous claim that General Petraeus goes through the streets of Baghdad “every day” in an unarmed humvee, and McCain himself wore no armor while visiting there. The general’s office later said the general “never goes out in less than an up-armored humvee,” and photographs of McCain during his visit show him wearing full body armor.

Likewise, when he ran against Bush in 2000, McCain may have been challenging the Republican Party leadership. And when he voted against Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, he may have been thinking for himself. But his record since then has been party-line all the way, and he now says he wants to make those tax cuts permanent.

Electing McCain is like giving Bush four more years.

To be sure, McCain’s military record is commendable, and the American people should never forget the great service he gave this country when his plane was shot down in Vietnam and he became a prisoner of the North Vietnamese Army.

But being held captive does not necessarily prepare a person for the White House. We must examine McCain’s votes and his public statements and determine whether he is with working Americans or against us. Using that yardstick and no other, the senator falls short.

McCain supports the wealthy at the expense of workers

ON ONE ISSUE, we can agree with McCain. He has taken some heat for his support of a cap-and-trade policy that would enable the United States to reduce CO2 emissions while allowing the construction of coal-fired power plants to meet our nation’s growing electrical energy needs. Cap-and-trade can be environmentally friendly while keeping Boilermakers employed, and we are pleased to see he is with us on that issue.

But on almost every other issue, McCain is not with us.

He is not with us on the economy. As recently as January 10 of this year, he still did not believe the economy was moving toward a recession, claiming “I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong, and I believe they will remain strong.” For millions of working Americans, the recession is already here. The average worker’s wages have gone down since President Bush took office, oil prices are causing everything to cost more, and a staggering 243,000 home mortgages were foreclosed in April — triple the number of two years ago.

Yet McCain didn’t even bother to vote on the economic stimulus package that sent rebate checks of $600 to $1,200 to most working families. Instead, he proposed a gasoline tax holiday during the summer months. Not paying the 18 cents per gallon federal gas tax would net most families about $30 over a four-month span. If McCain thinks $30 will turn the tide on the national economy or help a working family avoid a foreclosure, he truly doesn’t know as much about economics as he should.

He is not with us on trade. McCain has never voted against a free-trade bill. In February, he was quoted in the New York Sun as saying, “Free trade is something I think that is vital to the future of America. As a free trader, I will open up every market in the world.”

He is not with us on prevailing wages (Davis-Bacon). McCain has voted to prevent Davis-Bacon being applied in disaster areas and on many occasions has voted to waive Davis-Bacon for specific projects. He voted against a sense-of-Congress resolution stating Davis-Bacon should be maintained.

He is not with us on job creation and infrastructure improvement. In 2004 he voted against highway bills that would have created five million jobs over six years in new highway and transit construction projects. The bills contained Davis-Bacon protections. In 2005 he voted against a six-year infrastructure modernization program that would have created a million family-supporting Davis-Bacon jobs.

He is not with us on overtime protections. In 2004 he supported President Bush’s rule change that threatened to take overtime pay protections from six million workers.

He is not with us on OSHA protections. In 2000 he voted to block OSHA from issuing, implementing, or enforcing standards to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries.

He is not with us on taxes. McCain wants to lower the corporate income tax and make permanent Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, nearly all the benefits of which went to high-income Americans. The Congressional Budget Office has said the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy caused most of the $2 trillion rise in the federal debt we’ve experienced under Bush.

He is not with us on Social Security. McCain has said repeatedly that he wants to privatize Social Security. In 2006 he voted to shift Social Security surpluses into private accounts. In March 2008, he suggested raising the retirement age and reducing cost-of-living raises. In 2005 he supported a plan that would require deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt. That same year, he voted against making Social Security a higher priority than tax cuts for the wealthy. In 2003 he voted to use the Social Security surplus to pay off the national debt.

He is not with us on Medicare. He has voted to raise the age for eligibility, increase copays and Part B insurance premiums, and require Medicare beneficiaries to purchase medical equipment. He claims these votes were intended to save taxpayers money, but he did not vote on a bill allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs, so Medicare prices are 50 percent higher than veterans pay. The Veterans Administration is allowed to negotiate. Oh, yes, and he missed the vote to add prescription drugs to Medicare, too.

He is not with us on health care. His proposal is much like many plans promoted by Republicans in the past 20 years. He wants to give tax credits to individuals and families who purchase insurance. His approach does nothing to bring down health care costs, provides a windfall for high-wage families who already have health care, and does not provide enough money for low-wage workers to buy insurance.

He is not with us on workers’ rights. He supports so-called “right-to-work” and opposes the Employee Free Choice Act.

This list could go on, because, on nearly every economic or workplace issue, McCain’s position is not good for working families. In regard to unions and to working Americans, McCain’s positions are virtually identical to those of the current president. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that electing McCain would be like putting Bush back into the White House for another four years.

If that happens, working Americans will see more jobs move overseas, more worker protections disappear, and more workers lose their health care and their pensions. Workers must not vote for John McCain.

Eleven Points of

McCain is not with us on these 11 critical issues (and many others)

The Economy Taxes
Trade Social Security
Davis-Bacon Medicare
Infrastructure Improvement Health Care
Overtime Protections Worker's Rights
OSHA Protections  

Paid for by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund, [phone: (703) 560-1493] and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.