Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why I will not be voting for John McCain

There are two main reasons why I will not be voting for John McCain for President in this November's election: (1) John McCain's demonstrated willingness to assist the left wing of the Democrat party on important issues and (2) the fact that, given America's decentralized electoral system, America will not likely move to the right until a Democrat is elected President of the United States.

First, let's look at John McCain's record of assisting the Democrats on important issues.

The 2001 and 2003 Bush Tax Cuts

In the spring of 2001 George W. Bush was in his first year as President and he had just inherited a recession from President Bill Clinton. The tax cut proposal that Bush had campaigned on became all the more necessary due to the sagging economy. Among the 50 Republican US Senators, nearly all of them supported the Bush tax cuts. Most of the Democrat US Senators opposed the Bush tax cuts, partly for ideological reasons and partly for tactical reasons.

The Democrats generally support redistribution of wealth and, thus, oppose tax reduction. In addition, given that Bush's main purpose in proposign tax cuts would be to get the economy out of recession and to create economic growth, most Democrats believed that this would work to their political disadvantage. A weak economy under a Republican president would be more political advantageous for the Democrats than a strong economy.

So, most Republican US Senators supported the Bush tax cuts and most Democrat US Senators opposed the Bush tax cuts. What was John McCain's opinion of the 2001 Bush tax cuts? McCain opposed the 2001 Bush tax cuts using rhetoric nearly identical to that of Massachusetts US Senator Ted Kennedy
"I cannot 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 middle-class Americans who need tax relief." --- John McCain June 9, 2001
During the 2008 Republican primaries, McCain stated that he opposed the 2001 Bush tax cuts because they did not include spending restraint. But a look at the record shows that this is misleading.
Senator McCain not only voted against the Bush tax cuts, he joined leading liberal senators in offering and voting for amendments designed to undermine them. All in all, Senator McCain voted on the pro-tax side of 14 such amendments in 2001 and 2003. These included such odious measures as:

An amendment sponsored by Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) to prohibit a reduction in the top tax rate until Congress enacted legislation to provide a prescription drug benefit.

An amendment sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) against full repeal of the Death Tax.

This vote is in keeping with Senator McCain's 2002 vote against repealing the Death Tax.

An amendment sponsored by Tom Daschle (D-SD) and co-sponsored by Senator McCain to limit tax reduction in the top tax bracket to one percentage point.
McCain was only one of two Republican Senators to vote against the 2001 Bush tax cuts and one of only three Republican Senators to vote against the 2003 Bush tax cuts.

The Democrats' Filibusters of Bush's Judicial Nominess

In McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican convention last Thursday, McCain said that he supports judges who objectively interpret the law and do not legislate. But it's important to look at McCain's behavior during the Clinton and Bush administrations to see whether McCain's recent words really match up to his intentions.

Like most US Senators at the time, McCain voted for Clinton's US Supreme Court nominees Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994. At no time during the Clinton administraton did McCain vote to prevent any of Clinton's judicial nominees from receiving a confirmation vote.

When the Democrats took over the US Senate in May of 2001 during George W. Bush's first year in office, Bush began having trouble getting his judicial nominees confirmed as the Democrat controlled Senate judiciary committee often refused to even hold confirmation hearings for Bush's judicial nominees. In the November 2002 elections, however, the Republicans gained a net of 2 US Senate seats and obtained a majority of the US Senate and, thus, obtained majority control over the Senate judiciary committee. It looked like Bush's judicial nominees would have a chance to get confirmed to the US Court of Appeals.

That's when the Democrats began using the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote. This had not been done when the Republicans were a minority in the US Senate during the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1994. Many Republicans Senators protested against the Democrat minority's use of the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote. But John McCain was not one of them. In total, the Democrats successfully prevented 10 of Bush's nominees to the federal court of appeals from receiving a confirmation vote.

In the November 2004 elections the Republicans gained a net of 4 US Senate seats, a 55 to 45 seat majority while President Bush was reelected in his race against Democrat John Kerry. The Republican Senate leadership indicated that they would use a parliamentary vote, often referred to as "the nuclear option," to bypass the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule if the Democrats continued to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote.

Most Republican US Senators vocally supported their leadership, President Bush and Vice President Cheney in their determination to allow Bush's judicial nominees to receive a confirmation vote. That's when John McCain became the first Republican US Senator to announce that he would vote with the Democrats on the issue of the filibusters on Bush's judicial nominees. Here's an excerpt from McCain's interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball program on April 14, 2005.
MATTHEWS: But bottom line, would you vote for what’s called the “nuclear option,” to get rid of the filibuster rule on judgeships?

MCCAIN: No, I will not.

MATTHEWS: You will stick with the party?

MCCAIN: No, I will vote against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: You will vote—

MCCAIN: Against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you will?


MATTHEWS: So you will vote with the Democrats?

MCCAIN: Yes, because I think we have got to sit down and work this thing out. Look, we won’t always be on the majority. I say to my conservative friends, some day there will be a liberal Democrat president and a liberal Democrat Congress. Why? Because history shows it goes back and forth. I don’t know if it’s a hundred years from now, but it will happen. And do we want a bunch of liberal judges approved by the Senate of the United States with 51 votes if the Democrats are in the majority?
McCain's argument that "some day there will be a liberal Democrat president and a liberal Democrat Congress" and that, therefore, Republicans should want to preserve the option of the judicial filibuster was made by McCain knowing that most MSNBC viewers were unaware that McCain voted for US Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an ACLU General Council who supported Co-ed prisons and lowering the age of sexual consent to age 12. McCain not only didn't attempt to filibuster any of Clinton's judicial nominees, he voted for many of them even if they were extreme Left-Wingers. But when Democrats filibustered Bush's judicial nominees, McCain announced that he would vote with the Democrats to allow them to continue their obstructionist behavior.

America's electoral system and the perverse effect of electing a Democrat President

President Clinton takes more credit for the 1996 Welfare Reform than he should. But it is also true that Welfare Reform would probably not have occurred if President George Herbert Walker Bush had defeated Bill Clinton in 1992. Why? Because the political party that holds the White House usually loses Congressional seats in mid-term elections. The 1994 mid-term congressional election represented an example of this, as did the 2006 mid-term congressional elections. Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was president in November 1994 and the Republicans ended up winning both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. This would not likely have happened had President George Herbert Walker Bush prevailed over Governor Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election. The Republican Congress elected in 1994 would pass welfare reform in 1996. President Clinton reluctantly signed the welfare reform legislation.

If one is dissatisfied with a US House of Representatives led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi and a US Senate led by Democrat Harry Reid, the quickest way to remove the Democrats from their majority status in Congress is to elect a Democrat president. Again, this is because of the perverse nature of America's decentralized electoral system. The American people tend to view the party of the President, not the party that holds a majority in Congress, as responsible for what is happening in the country even though Congress arguably has as much or more power over the direction of the country. That's why it shouldn't be surprising that the Democrats regained control over Congress not during the Clinton administration, but during the George W. Bush administration.

If this country is to be turned around, the Democrats must be removed from their majority status in Congress. For that to happen, the Democrats must first win the White House.