Fiscal Conservatives


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

In the tradition of the Grand Old Party, this election year Republicans had hoped they had nominated a fiscal Conservative.  In March 2008, Columnist Bonnie Erbe mused; John McCain might return the messianic rule Republicans think “Right.”  The Journalist scribed.

Is McCain the Return of the Fiscal Conservative?

USA Today

March 26, 2008 03:57 PM ET

Ah, finally, one of the presidential candidates actually offers a common-sense approach to resolving the mortgage crisis.  Sen. John McCain yesterday “derided government intervention to save and reward banks or small borrowers who behave irresponsibly . . .”

The Senator from Arizona and Presidential aspirant has often spoken of the need to be economically accountable.  Financial folly is conduct John McCain does not favor.  John McCain rejects earmarks.  He wants no Senator to spend dollars on local projects.  He is proud of his rigid record; he has not supplied his home State with money for roads or bridges to nowhere.  As President of the United States, the “maverick” Republican, will not reward capriciousness.  Yet, perhaps he has and will when in the White House.

Irresponsibility is a term not easily defined.  American history illustrates, the interpretation varies dependent on how the arrears accrue and for whom.

John the Caterer, Pam the Antique Shop owner, Tito the Truck Driver, or possibly, Jane the Dressmaker believe a responsible person takes care of them self first.  Money in my pocket matters more than dollars for those on government programs.  Uncaring or less than conscious of consequences; you dear reader decide.

These small business entrepreneurs work hard for the cash they earn.  In these tough times, John, Pam, Tito, and Jane cannot afford to contribute to the goodwill of others in their communities.  They are strapped.  In McCain Palin commercial after commercial, proprietors proclaim as the candidate they support does, it would be fiscally irresponsible to spread the wealth or to have tax dollars pay for plans that might buy more body armor, build more roads, better hospitals and schools, or stimulate a green economy.

Each of these mini-tycoons, along with the now third person on the Republican ticket, Joe the Plumber,  tells the American people of personal concerns; the trials and tribulations of taxes.  These citizens crave policies that typify the Republican tradition of economic restraint.  McCain Palin supporters, common folks such as Carole the Cook and Charles the Contractor muse; it is reckless to grow debt.  American workers, businessmen, and women think it is prudent to hold on to every hard earned dollar.  They too have no love for an economic adventurous policymaker.

That has been the mantra for many American’s for decades.  “We want a fiscal Conservative in the White House!”  However, frequently, the fine people of this country elect other than a President who is cautious with American dollars.  United States citizens intend to cast ballots for those who practice economic restraint.  Yet, annals reveal, too often they do not.  Responsible, reckless; you dear reader decide.  (Please review the chart)

Recent Republican Administrations exemplify the dichotomy between monetary judiciousness and those who adopt the title, fiscal Conservative.  Past Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and the current Chief Executive, George W. Bush brought this country to its economic knees.  While the latter may be a bit bruised, it seems his supporters are happy to follow in a Republican tradition.  They will vote for the John McCain, the candidate who now represents the Republican Party.  Fortunately, for the Arizona Senator, past Grand Old Party fiscal follies does not tarnish the reputation of the “Right.”  Republicans and Independents, who think taxes are irresponsible, endorse the Bush protégé, John McCain in the current 2008 Presidential campaign.  

Although Republican Administrations accrued billions in national debt, these former Commanders-In-Chief personally prospered.  They, did as John the Caterer, Pam the Antique Shop owner, Tito the Truck Driver, and of course, the now famous Joe the Plumber hope to do, held their dollars closely and benefit at the expense of others.

The third person on the Republican Presidential stump, Joe the Plumber has already accomplished as his political leaders did.  Samuel J. Wurzelbacher’s debt resulted in liens.  However, he also garnered greater monetary wealth.  Irresponsible, accountable; only you the American taxpayer can decide for yourself.

It appears there is a perceptible pattern.  People who prosper from the hardship of others leave enormous sums unpaid.  Former Presidents and the few big or small business owners thrive, while the average American, lives on meager wages, or salaries that do not allow much money to be saved.  Responsible behavior, or the ruinous result of regressive taxes; individual readers will choose what they wish to trust as truth.

However, no one will negate, common people find themselves in a financial crisis, that for him or her, perhaps feels more dire than the national or global catastrophe.  Circumstances, may force the poor and Middle Class to be more fiscally Conservative.  As the economy tightens, remunerations are reduced.  Expenses expand.  People who work hard may have little to show for the blood, sweat, and tears of toil.

The Center for American Progress reports, in recent years, as another a Republican ruled the White House, America’s Middle Class has fallen deeper into a financial abyss. Income growth slows, and costs climb for the average person in the United States.  For the common folks, financial solvency is on a downward descent; fiscal liability ascends.  

A typical middle income family earning around $45,000 a year saw its debt burden grow by 33.1% between 2001 and 2004, even after adjusting for inflation.  Debt relative to income rose even more, to 33.9%, during this period for middle-income families.  Personal bankruptcies among these households are rising steeply.

The reasons for greater economic distress among middle class households are not hard to pinpoint.  Slow income growth between 2001 and 2004, the last year for which complete data is available, has not kept pace with the rising cost of big ticket items such as housing and education loans, medical expenses and transportation.  Family budgets have been squeezed.

A common but misplaced assumption is that the growth in debt among middle-income families – those with incomes roughly between $25,000 to $70,000 a year – is the result of over-consumption through increased credit card debt.  Rather, growth in debt is primarily due to heavier borrowing for investments in homes or education, both of which saw dramatic price increases in recent years.  The cost of a college education, for example, grew by 24.6% between 2001 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation.

These rising debt levels are also beginning to affect groups of middle income families that historically have not struggled with debt.

As the ordinary American grapples with the newer reality of reduced revenue, under the auspices of a Grand Old Party Administration, the affluent enjoy greater gains than ever before.  The Middle Class who lack funds are forced to be money-wise, not pound-foolish.

Wealthier Republicans, such as John McCain, who wail of personal responsibility, take no note of what occurs to others less fortunate or financially not fluid.  

Indeed, when President, John McCain intends to make the tax cuts established in the current Administration permanent.  The Presidential aspirant disregards the damage done.  Perchance, a desire to discount the cause and effect of an economic crisis could be considered fiscally imprudent

Republican President George W. Bush does not worry of what his irrational policies produced He offers with emotional detachment, “The fact is that income inequality is real — it’s been rising for more than 25 years,”  For Mister Bush and Senator McCain that truth is just the way it is, and perchance, they think the disproportionate distribution is the way it should be.  This is known as a redistribution of wealth . . . upwards.

The moneyed move millions, billions into preferred pocketbooks.  The super-rich, and those who represent them in the Oval Office, do this through duties that divide the population.  The regressive tax system subtlety imposed upon the nation by recent Republican Administrations helped supplement substantial income and capital gains.  Might this tax  practice be rash or rational?

Today [in 2003 and since], with state taxes becoming more regressive – and the two Bush tax cuts providing large tax savings for the rich – the tax system is moving in the direction of a flat tax, but doing so out of the spotlight.  For example, despite sharp debate about the administration’s tax cuts on the campaign trail, talk about whether taxes are regressive or progressive is hardly material for the stump speeches of presidential candidates  . . .

[A]t the top, the tax system has already become regressive.  The super-rich pay proportionately less in federal income tax than the merely rich.  In 2000, the nation’s 400 richest taxpayers, making an average $173 million, paid an effective tax rate more than 5 percentage points lower than those making $1.5 million to $5 million, notes economist Martin Sullivan in Tax Notes magazine.

That gap has probably shrunk a bit since then.  In 2000, the peak year for stock market prices, the super-rich probably saved some taxes on their huge capital gains.  (Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.)  Since then, stock-market capital gains have diminished.  But Congress also cut the capital gains rate from 20 to 15 percent – a provision especially beneficial to the rich.

“At the rate we are going, in which more and more investment income is simply untaxed, we will end up with a federal income tax that is not only regressive at the top, but regressive overall,” warns Richard Kogan, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.  “The middle class will be the tax-bearing class.”

Then, in 2003, and now, a levy structure put in place by the Grand Old Party benefits the moneyed, and punishes those with less dollars.  Under the auspices of Republican rule, the average American has and will realize greater debt.  So too will the country.  

Self-invested proprietors, a collective of self-interested persons, or Republican Administrations that do not require people of means to contribute to the greater good soon realize they have created an economic calamity.  These persons who prefer a Conservative in the White House, have opted for deregulation of banks and brokers.  Depositories built on free and open markets, without restraints, have done as individuals, Presidents, and property owners have.  They sought to endow self and sacrifice service to the community.  Are they prudent, practical, fiscally Conservative, or just careless . . .?

America, under the direction of the last three Republican Presidents, fiscal Conservatives who were not prudent with cash, encouraged the electorate to charge it.  Now, Joe the Plumber, John the Caterer, and Betty the Baker who [kneads] needs more dough before she can purchase a storefront understands why everyday people borrow from banks.  

The regressive Republican tax structure has made it hard for these individuals to manage on the money they have set aside.  Those who advocate for less taxes and look out for their personal gains, as the mammoth monetary monuments crumbled do well when the consumer wants more. However, as history shows us, amongst Grand Old Party Presidents and the more prosperous, too much is never enough for people with plenty.

When faced with a monetary meltdown after years of irrational, irresponsible, exuberance, self-proclaimed fiscal conservations like John McCain morphed.  The love of money does that to people, even if they wish to think themselves traditionalist.

The Bush Administration proposed a government bailout of big businesses who behaved irresponsibly.  The newer Grand Old Party, leader, and Presidential aspirant, understood that he was expected to be standard-bearer for self-sufficiency.  However, if he stood that ground, those he helped to thrive through deregulation would go down.  Thus, as a faithful Republican soldier, John invoked the plea that would point out that he is perchance, not a fiscal Conservative.  In September 2008, Senator McCain offered an early election year surprise.  The once traditional Republican requested, Please, “Let the government bailout business.”  As a fiscal Conservative, John McCain said, “Let my corporate cohorts eat cake.”  Americans may ask as Journalist  Bonnie Erbe did months earlier; Is McCain the Return of the Fiscal Conservative?

References for Republican Resources . . .

Common Sense Taxation

CNN Crunches Obama and McCain Tax Plans

The only question is as to sustaining the change [to higher taxes] before the people.  

I believe it can be sustained, because it does not increase the tax upon the “many poor” but upon the “wealthy few” . . .

~ Letter to William S. Wait, March 2, 1839, reprinted in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, volume 1, p. 148.  Rutgers University Press. (1953, 1990).

I go for all sharing the privileges of government who assist in bearing its burdens.

~ Letter to the Editor of the Sangamon Journal, June 13, 1836, reprinted in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, volume 1, p. 48.  Rutgers University Press. (1953, 1990).

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

The chap was well-dressed as was his wife.  She expressed her distain with her husband’s choice.  He would cast his ballot for John McCain in this election year.  Taxes were his only concern.  This lovely lady declared herself an active Democrat.  She had been a Clinton supporter, Hillary that is.  Now, she was decisively behind Barack Obama, and proud of it.  I might not have known this or much else about the couple of strangers; however, in the year 2008, everyone seems anxious to share political concerns.  

Times, as the adage states, are “tough.”  Yet, life goes on.  Families still celebrate birth dates, nuptials, and anniversaries.  People continue to purchase gifts, although most do not feel they can afford to shop.  Persons do not purchase until they drop.  Instead, individuals in stores stop and chat of the financial crisis.  They speak of fears and folly.  Countless recount tales of pink slips received.  Others anxiously await what they cannot predict.  Will they soon be among the  6.1 percent unemployed Americans?  

Those in malls understand the woes and are apprehensive they might be next.  With more citizens out of work, millions find they cannot pay the mortgage.  Ruthless subprime rates raked many United States residents over the proverbial coals.  Home loan representatives, who indulged in illicit although not illegal, practices, have helped cause an abundance of  foreclosures. Many Americans are out on the streets.

Rage, resentments, and calls for a revolution, are rampant.  However, on the issue of tax policies those who benefited under the Bush plan want no change.  Dollars held tightly in the palm of an individuals’ hand make sense to those such as this stylish gentleman I met more than a month ago.  

For me, the discussion of government assessments began long before America became acquainted with “Joe the Plumber.” It commenced when, I met a couple, whose names I do not know.  Perchance, as I tell this tale, I will call them John and Jane Doe.  The man, woman, and I did not exchange names, although we had an extensive conversation.  The three of us were in a second-hand store.  Still, we all wondered whether we could afford to buy even one item.  

Today prices are high.  The cost of living soars.  Incomes are depressed; dollars are too.  Small businesses suffer.  Workers employed in large and little companies fear they will not be able to survive.  In September 2008, 159,000 jobs were lost. This monthly calculation is the worst seen in five years.  Americans are not surprised.  This computation confirms what most have felt.  The economic downturn is severe.  Hence, the trepidation for higher taxes.

Talk of tariffs adds to the daily stress people experience in hard economic times.  John Doe expressed, for him, the only issue of import is levees.  His spouse Jane sighed.  Restless, she pleaded to her husband, “There is more to consider.”  However, her husband remained resolute.  This genteel gent was concerned with his own fortune, not with societal failures.  The proposal presented before the public by Barack Obama, says persons such as “Joe the Plumber” and the fine fellow who stood before me, are reminiscent of Socialism.  Republicans and Independents who see themselves as rugged individualist react strongly to the idea of wealth redistribution.  Democrats attempt to remind all Americans of history.

A prominent Republican, Abraham Lincoln, first introduced the strategy that would rearrange the division of riches.  During the Civil War, as costs to run a nation and sustain a war effort could no longer cover expenses, President Lincoln imposed an income tax, a progressive rate of return applied to revenue.  Responsibly in 1862, the then President of the United States, choose to seek and preserve fiscal common sense.  Unlike the current Commander-In-Chief, the former Chief Executive believed budgets must be balanced.  Thus, citizens were charged a fee on income in order to pay for the conflict between the States.  

The Civil War Commander also grasped an awful truth; if war is profitable, people will prefer the fight,  President Lincoln hoped to ensure economic gain would not be an incentive for bloody battles. While his plan worked, the prosperous protested, just as they did during the Persian Gulf conflict.

Commander-In-Chief Lincoln struggled in his efforts to find a way to pay for the Civil War.  Initially, President Lincoln turned to bankers to pay for the battles.  After all, the citizens called barons of capitalism, in a derogatory fashion, had the money and the means.  Yet, then, just as now, financiers would not fund what they thought an uncertain future.  

In the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, lenders groused; loans are liens. Repayment is required.  The individuals of yesteryear who wished to secure and retain personal profits were more than reluctant to part with cash.  Indeed, they refused.  The stranger who stood before me and “Joe he Plumber’ might relate.  They too do not want to contribute a penny more of their cash to assist the country.  Miserly might best describe the early proprietors of principal.  The term may also apply to the gracious gentleman in my presence, the person I refer to as John, or to “Joe,” the man who fits pipes for his wages.

President Lincoln, may too have been as these fellows are, early in his career.  However, wartime realities transformed him.  As Chief Executive of a country divided, Abraham Lincoln realized the toll discordance takes.  Lincoln learned to consider Thomas Paine a prophet.  He acknowledged, as the astute author penned in Common Sense, as the population increases, individuals and small clusters of people can no longer care for themselves, friends, and family.  Nor can a modest collective control the chaos that comes when people are overwhelmed by a desire to be the one and only.

John may wish to ponder the wisdom his wife expressed.  Plumber Joe may want to join him.  What the two thoughtful men might define as Socialism is, what Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln would classify as a society where government is of, by, and for the people.

Perchance, the truth of what became self-evident after the Republican experiment of 1862 had a profound effect on what occurred decades later.  The excise became permanent with the adoption of the Constitution’s 16th amendment in 1913. Earlier the Supreme Court had rejected the duty; however, Congress, members of the Grand Old Party and Democrats together, overturned the decision.

Income tax has allowed America to civically function and build communities that flourish for near a century and one half.  For the last one hundred years, citizens of this country have endured, enabled by a tax system that secures education for all.  The current tax structure redistributes wealth so that we all might travel on paved roads, feel safe on secure bridges, and enjoy the creature comforts of cheap electricity, and access to ample water.  John McCain, Sarah Palin, “Joe the Plumber,” persons of their ilk, and perhaps John Doe may prefer to be without the luxuries Americans take for granted.  Fear of what they characterize as Communism or Socialism, could cause our society to crumble further.

That is exactly what the person I refer to as Jane, John’s  life-long partner had endeavored to communicate as the three of us exchanged philosophies on the floor of A Consignment Shoppe.  Jane attempted to assert the Bush Administration engaged in redistribution.  George W. Bush gave to the super-rich and took from the poor and Middle Class.  The trickle-down theory was in truth a splash up.  The abundantly affluent were doused in dollars.  Common citizens crumbled under the weight of the wealthiest gains.

Jane hoped she could explain, as did I.  Our efforts proved futile.  Neither of us had, close at hand, the evaluation of experts.  Perhaps, had John been able to see the charts and graphs, had he read the terms of an agreement with Barack Obama or with John McCain, he would have recognized as Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and we did.

Barack Obama John McCain
New Tax Cuts Refundable “Making Work Pay Credit” of 6.2 percent of earnings up to a maximum earnings of $8,100 per worker

Refundable “Universal Mortgage Credit” of 10 percent of mortgage interest for nonitemizers up to $800

Eliminate income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year

Make Research and Development and renewable energy production tax credit (wind, solar) permanent

Extend childless Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) phase-in range and increase phase-out threshold; increase EITC phase-in rate to 45 percent for families with three or more children; increase add-on to EITC phase-out threshold for married filers to $5,000

Make Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable and equal to 50 percent of child care expenses less than $6,000

Make saver’s credit refundable and change to a 50 percent match of the first $1,000 of contributions

Rename the Hope Credit the “American Opportunity Tax Credit” and expand it to a refundable credit of 100% of the first $4,000 of college expenses

Mandate automatic 401(k)s and automatic IRAs

Allow first-year deduction of 3 and 5-year equipment, deny interest deduction (expires after 2013)

Reduce maximum corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent (phased in by 2015)

Increase the dependent exemption by two-thirds (phased in by 2016)

Convert Research and Development credit to 10 percent of wages incurred for Research and Development, make permanent

Capital Gains Increase maximum capital gains rate to 20 percent for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples)

Require information reporting of basis for gains

Make permanent current rates on capital gains and dividends, (0 and 15 percent)
2001/2003 Tax Cuts Permanently extend child credit expansions, 10, 15, 25, and 28 percent rates, and changes to tax implications of marriage

Restore 36 and 39.6 percent statutory income tax rates in 2009

Restore phase-out of personal exemptions and itemized deductions (PEP and Pease) for households making more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples), increase the PEP and Pease threshold

Make permanent all provisions other than the estate tax repeal
Alternative Minimum Tax Extend and index 2007 AMT patch Extend and index 2007 AMT patch, further increase exemption by additional 5 percent per year after 2013 (temporarily)
Estate Tax Make permanent estate tax with $3.5 million exemption and 45 percent rate Make permanent estate tax with $5 million exemption and 15 percent rate
Simplification Provide taxpayers with simple returns the option of pre -filled tax forms to verify, sign, return to IRS Create optional alternative tax with two rates and larger standard deduction and personal exemption
Revenue Raisers and Tax Havens Eliminate oil and gas loopholes

Close loopholes in the corporate tax deductibility of CEO pay

Tax carried interest as ordinary income

Reallocate multinational tax deductions

Impose a windfall profits tax on oil and gas companies

Require publicly traded financial partnerships to pay corporate income tax

Codify economic substance doctrine (requires transactions that qualify for tax benefits have economic justification beyond those benefits)

Create an international tax haven watch list of countries who do not share information with the U.S. and require greater financial disclosure to decrease tax shelters

Repeal domestic production activities deduction

Eliminate oil and gas loopholes

Unspecified corporate base broadeners

Health Income-related federal tax subsidies for health insurance purchased through new health insurance exchange

Require employers to provide insurance or pay a percentage of payroll to support the national plan

Small business healthcare tax credit of 50 percent of employer paid premiums

Replace exclusion from income for employer sponsored health insurance with refundable credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families who purchase qualifying health insurance

As economic experts evaluate the numbers, calculate the computations, and consider how the Presidential challengers will pay for public works and raise revenues, the conclusion the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center professionals reach is a resolute reminder from the past.  If John McCain is elected, American wealth will be redistributed as it was under George W. Bush.  The smallest percentage of the population, the select few who qualify as super-rich will prosper.  Should voters place Barack Obama in the Oval Office, we the poorer Middle Class will survive, perchance, even thrive.

The two candidates’ tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects.  Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income.  In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers.  The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution . . .

The infrastructure [the supply of power and water, public transportation, telecommunications, roads and schools,] the luxuries that make life in America lovely will not exist without taxes.  The discreet dude, John Doe, who spoke of his stocks, bonds, and levees imposed on income could have come to the conclusion that if we hold on tightly to what we, as individuals have, our hands are not open and free to build a greater communal wealth.  The Oracle who resides in Nebraska understands this.

The “Sage of Omaha” thinks the strategy Barack Obama wishes to exercise is wise. The multi-billionaire investor states Barack Obama “is going to bring outstanding ideas” to the White House.  Warren Buffett worries that America, under John McCain might stay the course that has not served us well.  As the nation’s economy free falls into a downward spiral, Warren Buffett reasons.

“I think that the US has followed and is following policies which will cause the US dollar to weaken over a long period,” he said.

After voicing support for Obama, Buffett nonetheless noted the US economy had managed to do “awfully well” despite a depression, two world wars, and many financial crises.

“They say in the stock market … buy stock in a business that’s so good that an idiot can run it because sooner or later one will,” he added.

“Well, the United States is a little like that.  We can take a little mis-management from time to time,” Buffett said.

The Presidential candidate, McCain understands that Mister Buffett may muse of more than his personal pocketbook.  However, John McCain grieves not for one vote lost.  Senator McCain and his handlers trust in human nature.  Common people disregard the good sense of one who is unaffected by the financial crisis.

The Arizona Senator has faith; if he devotes his attention to everyday Americans, he can still win the presidency.  The people’s choice is a reflection of how the public feels about the economy. If John McCain can convince John Doe, the man who might be an Investor, and Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the self-described soon-to-be owner of a profitable small plumbing business, that Barack Obama, like Abraham Lincoln before him, is a Socialist, Senator McCain will be successful in his bid for the White House.  

Granted, if McCain become President, John Doe may not be provided for.  Jane, his spouse, and I are sure Senator McCain will not care for our needs, but then Commander-In-Chief aspirant and Arizona affluent, McCain does not want the vote of those who recognize the rich reaped greater treasures from the Bush redistribution of wealth plan.  Senator John McCain does not desire the vote of Obama supporters, such as billionaire Warren Buffett, who he cannot sway with slams of Socialism.  

John McCain’s only wish is to seize a commitment  from constituents who have not learned from history.  The abundantly affluent Arizona Senator desires to hold on to those voters who are apprehensive.   He seeks support from citizens who declare, as the Republican candidate does, the proposed tax plan of Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, is as Abraham Lincoln’s redistribution of wealth strategy was, “Socialism”

References to the past and hopeful future . . .

The GOP has their man

To view the original art, please travel to The GOP has their man

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

I was planning on doing another Democratic primary toon this week, but, with John McCain officially wrapping up his party’s nomination, it seemed like an appropriate time to return fire on the GOP. This is my second published caricature of McCain; it’s better, but still a work in progress.

Check out “I’m John McCain …” above and let me know what you think.

GOP spin sounding tired already

To view the original art, please travel to GOP spin sounding tired already

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

[Posted 02/19/08]

With the Republican nomination all but wrapped up, John McCain used his TV time following the latest primaries to try out attack lines on Barack Obama. Somehow, I don’t think “The GOP’s Best Argument” is going to hold up against Obama’s youth-driven change tsunami. But November is a long way off, and Obama still has work to do in the Democratic primaries before he can worry too much about McCain.

Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?

To view the original art, please travel to Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

[Posted 02/06/08]

Super Tuesday lived up to its hype, giving us political-junkie types plenty to digest.

On the Democratic side, voters continue to be torn between two historic contenders: The first woman, a wonkish machine of a candidate who brings back memories of a better time; and the first black, an inspirational orator, a bit light on substance, who promises a brighter tomorrow. Yesterday’s split decision means this thing could go on all the way until the convention in August. Barak Obama looks to have an edge in almost all of the remaining February contests (including my home state of Washington, which caucuses Saturday), and maintains a major fundraising advantage. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, maintains double-digit leads in the three remaining big states: Ohio and Texas (both March 4), and Pennsylvania (April 22).

Because of the winner-take-all nature of several of the Republican primaries, Super Tuesday all but anointed John McCain as their nominee. The exit polls reveal serious weakness in support from the conservative base of the party, but who else can the GOP rally around? Few seem impressed by the clone-meat artificiality of Mitt Romney, while Mike Huckabee seems stuck in the South. The rank and file appear ready to hold their noses and move on.

Finally, the thing that really stood out to me yesterday is how far Iraq has fallen off the map as a campaign issue. Except for Obama’s occasional poke at Hillary’s authorization vote, the Dems have lost their way on this issue. Where’s the outrage over McCain’s talk of staying in Iraq for 100 years? It appears the war is “The Forgotten Issue” of this election year – and the topic of this week’s cartoon.

Back from the dead, but still past due

To view the original art, please travel to Back from the dead, but still past due.

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

Left for dead more than once, John McCain seized control of the GOP primary race with a tough-fought victory in Florida today. If this were still 2000 – before eight years of kowtowing to the Bushies, and before his unwavering support for a misbegotten war – I might care. Back in 2000, McCain’s brand of straight talk was a breath of fresh air. But now the best thing he’s got going for him is that he’s not Mitt Romney. Sadly, that makes him the “Fresh Face of the GOP.”