Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain's policies won't help workers

In an editorial on the third presidential debate, the New York Times observed:’s a shame that Mr. McCain hasn’t come up with policies that would actually help workers. Instead, he’s served up the same-old trickle-down theories and a government-is-wrong, markets-are-right fervor that helped create this economic disaster.

Wednesday night’s debate was another chance for Mr. McCain to prove that he is ready to lead this country out of its deep economic crisis. But he had one answer to almost every economic question: cut taxes and government spending. Unfortunately, what Mr. McCain means is to cut taxes for the richest Americans and, inevitably, to reduce the kinds of government services that working Americans need more than ever. ..

Mr. McCain’s biggest problem is that he has no big ideas for fixing the country’s problems. His speech on the economy this week was replete with seriously bad ones, starting with cutting the already very low capital gains tax in half. That won’t rescue the economy. What it will do is dig the government further into debt while making the current tax structure that rewards the rich even more unfair.

Mr. McCain made more sense when he proposed eliminating income tax on unemployment benefits in 2008 and 2009. He would have done a lot more for struggling Americans if he had pressed his party earlier this month to help extend expiring unemployment benefits.

Mr. McCain says he wants to help Americans threatened with foreclosure by using federal money to purchase loans that exceed the value of the home. A better approach — one that would not overburden the taxpayer — would be to allow a bankruptcy court judge to modify mortgage terms. Mr. Obama has long supported that change. Mr. McCain has not.

Mr. Obama has better ideas to respond to the financial crisis and to put the economy back on the right track. He supports a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and more money for states and localities, both of which would quickly bring relief beyond Wall Street.

Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Mr. McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent — a big break for the top 1 percent of society. Mr. Obama would cut taxes for low- and moderate-income families and raise them for richer Americans.

As for how Mr. McCain would create jobs, his big idea in Tuesday’s speech — surprise, surprise — was that “the most effective way a president can do this” is to use “tax cuts that are directed specifically to create jobs.” After the last eight years, that pinched view of government ought to sound depressingly familiar to the millions of Americans who are still waiting for that downward trickle of prosperity.

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