John McCain is on the wrong side of the two most urgent issues facing the USA today. First, the Iraq war remains wildly unpopular despite the partial success of the surge. Second, McCain’s economic policies are not going to withstand scrutiny.

McCain “is now selling tax cuts mostly for high-income Americans (and corporations) as the solution to the economic problems of low-income Americans.”

The economic package he has laid out embraces many of the tax policies he once decried: extending Bush’s tax cuts he voted against, offering investment tax breaks he once believed would have little economic benefit and granting the long-held wishes of tax lobbyists he has often mocked.

Now there’s this, as reported by Talking Points Memo:

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Now, my friends, I’ll offer anybody here $50 an hour if you’ll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. So — OK? Sign up. OK.

You sign up. You sign up, and you’ll be there for the whole season, the whole season. OK? Not just one day. Because you can’t do it, my friend.

McCain’s point was, Americans wouldn’t be willing to pick lettuce in the heat of the Arizona summer even if you paid them $50 per hour to do it. Josh Marshall wonders,

Does this guy have any idea how much money ordinary Americans make or don’t make?

… US labor statistics say the actual wage for this work is about $10,000 per year. And at that wage — which, let’s be honest, we all reap a benefit from in the form of cheap lettuce prices — no wonder Americans are unwilling to do it.

With a follow-up post from TPM here:

My name is Kevin Flynn, I am the legislative/political director for the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. … I was at the legislative conference when McCain lost his cool and began this tirade. …

Our president (and myself since I worked in the field as well) was struck dumb because our members (not unlike those of the other trades represented in the crowd) work 8-12 hours each day in the heat throughout the country bending over and laying 80 lb concrete blocks, heavy stone & marble, brick, and working in hellish conditions worse than the Arizona summer.

Your original point was correct, John McCain is clueless when it comes to the economy or the experiences of ordinary people who work for a living.

Bring on the general election! Between Iraq and the economy, I think McCain is highly vulnerable, once people start paying attention to what he actually stands for.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 06:37:25

    Honest question, but what was the context of mcCain’s remarks? It’s difficult to tell from the post, but it looks to me as if this is probably from a speech defending his immigration policy, which is much more liberal than the Republican mainstream (i.e. if Americans won’t pick lettuces in the heat no matter what the wages involved, then they really have no right to complain if other people who are prepared to do so come in to the country instead, not if they want to eat cheap, home grown lettuce anyway), and isn’t really about economics at all.

    And in the spirit of motes and beams, I would point out that even if it is as daft as it looks he’s not the first candidate to put his foot in it on economic matters. Take Obama’s recent call to ban all imports of Chinese made toys for example, despite the fact that these represent something like 80% of the toys sold in the USA.

    Yes folks, Barack Obama is running as the candidate who will cancel Christmas for America’s children…


  2. Stephen
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 07:22:31

    Yes, it was a defense of McCain’s position on immigration. Regardless, McCain clearly thinks Americans wouldn’t pick lettuce even if it paid $50 per hour. Evidently he doesn’t understand how desperate some Americans are for a job that would pay enough to feed a family. That yes, they would be willing to bear the Arizona summer for such a job.

    As for Obama’s proposal: would American children really not get toys for Christmas? Wouldn’t American (and other) industries fill the void? Wouldn’t Americans pay more for whatever safe product was on the shelves?

    The proposal is probably unrealistic, but arguably it would generate new American jobs. So it’s not foolish to throw the idea out there for discussion.


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