Making a case for McCain
With the financial crisis and the decline of Cleveland’s economy, we need a president with a record of accomplishing real reform, who understands our problems and knows what needs to be reformed. John McCain is that man.
Foreclosures/financial crisis. With 800 homes in foreclosure, it is critical to Cleveland Heights that we get this right. Obama has it wrong. He has blamed the crisis on Republicans and deregulation. First, the 1999 deregulation he criticizes occurred under President Clinton and was supported by Senator Biden. Further, it is hard to understand how eliminating a regulation protecting commercial banks can be blamed for the failures of investment banks. Second, he ignores McCain’s and Republicans’ attempts to regulate Fannie and Freddie. Though these two are exempt from state and local taxes, SEC disclosure regulations, and regulations on debt levels, the Democrats blocked attempts to regulate them. Even President Clinton criticized congressional Democrats for “resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”
The fundamental problem here is our government’s well-intentioned, but ill-advised attempt to increase home ownership. No one has ever said free markets are perfect. Run by humans making bets based on forecasts of the future, they are prone to mistakes. The beauty of markets is that, like the dot-com bubble, they are self-correcting, which likely would have been the case here. $500 billion of losses has a way of changing behavior. Unfortunately, the federal government in the form of Fannie and Freddie threw gas on the fire. These two giants purchase, guarantee, and re-sell half of the mortgages in the country, more than $5 trillion worth. Since 1992, in the face of political pressure to encourage homeownership, especially among low- and moderate-income buyers, they steadily relaxed downpayment and credit requirements. By 2004, they were buying 44% of the toxic sub-prime loans. Worse, they set the standards the rest of the industry follows. By relaxing lending standards, they enabled no-doc, no/low down payment loans that grew into this crisis.
The real solution requires getting the government out of the mortgage business. Let markets determine who can afford a home based on sound economics, not political pressure. McCain understands this and tried to regulate Fannie and Freddie. Obama? Despite his brief tenure, he somehow managed to garner more political contributions from Fannie than all but one other senator, and he asked a scandal-plagued former Fannie CEO to lead his team vetting potential VPs. Does that sound like “change we can believe in”?
Reform. Both McCain and Governor Palin have records of standing up to entrenched special interests even within their own party. Obama and Biden simply don’t. McCain has long been a maverick at odds with his party on issues from campaign finance to immigration to the Bush tax cuts. Confronted with corruption in Alaska, Palin unseated an incumbent Republican governor and brought ethics charges against the head of her state party.
Experience/Partisanship. Obama would have the thinnest presidential resume in the last century. On the job 25 months when he decided he was ready to be president, he simply has no record of accomplishment or of working across the aisle. Meanwhile, McCain has a long record of service –22 years in the Navy, 26 in Congress. We know him, and we can measure him by a long record of bi-partisan leadership and accomplishment, including the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
Secret ballots. The right to a secret ballot is as fundamental and sacred as our right to free speech and freedom of religion. Obama wants to deny that right to workers in union elections. He wants their votes to be public and, undoubtedly, subject to union arm-twisting.
This is also terrible economics. Unions have killed Cleveland. No one wants to do business with them. While non-union auto jobs grow in this country, United Auto Workers jobs, so vital to our local economy, die on the vine. Old-fashioned work rules and job banks that pay UAW members to do nothing prevent Detroit from restructuring itself. While this country still produces as much steel as it did a quarter century ago, United Steelworkers jobs, and our economy, are down as production shifts from unionized, integrated mills to less unionized, mini-mills. (In fairness, manufacturing efficiency has played a big role, too.) Embracing outdated union practices is not “change we can believe in.”
For these reasons and more I will vote for John McCain, for change we can believe in.
Michael G. Connors is the Republican Ward Leader in Cleveland Heights where he was born and raised.