Sen. John McCain tells Newsmax he can’t blame Americans for being disgusted by Congress and the president’s performance in the debt ceiling crisis, but insists that Republicans were determined not to “betray” voters’ 2010 election mandate to cut federal spending.
The GOP’s 2008 presidential candidate vows he will be fighting “on the Senate floor” against deep cuts in military spending, states that he favors eliminating all agricultural subsidies, calls pork barrel spending “corruption,” and charges that President Obama was a “bystander” in the debt ceiling debate.
The Arizona legislator also says he is “very concerned” about another four years under Obama, but is confident that Republicans will take the White House in 2012.
Now that the debt ceiling crisis has been averted and spending cuts agreed upon, further cuts will be left to 12-member Congressional joint committee.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Sen. McCain was asked how much faith he has in the committee’s ability to agree on spending cuts and tax increases.
Partisanship in Washington, he says, “is bred by a difference in philosophy between ourselves and the Democrats and President Obama. Fundamentally, we believe in shrinking the role of government and cutting spending, and they have the opposite view.
“I believe these 12 individuals will very likely come to some agreement. But I also believe our Republican members on this committee will state at the outset that we will not support tax increases. We think that would harm an economic recovery. But I think they will be talented enough and dedicated enough and frankly have a bit of ego — they don’t want to end up in failure.”
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If the committee fails to agree on spending, cuts to the Pentagon could automatically be implemented and amount to $550 billion over 10 years.
McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, declares: “If there were those kinds of cuts, which would result if the committee failed, I would be on the Senate floor that day fighting to preserve our nation’s security.
“The problem is that the administration is mandating cuts in defense without it being justified by policy, by national security. The president is tossing out numbers when we have to find out what our strategy and policy is and then shape the budget around that, not vice versa.”
Democrats are pushing for closing tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry and private jets, and Obama in a Tuesday speech once again took aim at the rich.
“I think most Americans are sick and tired of this class warfare,” McCain comments.
“And it would take about 200 years to get the budget in balance if we did away with jets.
“I want to encourage the oil companies. I want us out there in offshore drilling. Class warfare doesn’t work. One reason why it doesn’t work is because we all want to be rich.
“On this topic of loopholes, if you call ethanol subsidies and solar subsidies loopholes, count me in. I’ve been against ethanol subsidies for the last 15 years. I think we should take the corporate tax and cut it from 35 percent to 25 percent and at the same time do away with these special tax breaks that special interests have gotten just because of their lobbying power in Washington.
“Ethanol subsidies, sugar subsidies — I’d want to get rid of all agricultural subsidies, and if you call that a tax increase, fine. I call it doing away with special interest influence.”
A Newsmax poll conducted by InsiderAdvantage found that 73 percent of Americans are disgusted with the overall job performance of Congress and the president in efforts to reach the debt deal.
Asked about this disconnect between politicians and the public, McCain — who spoke from Phoenix — responds: “I saw another poll that said seventy-some percent said we were behaving like spoiled children and I think 14 percent said we weren’t. I haven’t met anybody in the 14 percent category since I’ve been home.
“Americans don’t like to be frightened – they’re not going to get their Social Security check or their access to the benefits they earned would be cut off. So in a way I don’t blame them.
“But I would like to point out that last November the message to Congress from the American people was: cut the spending. Stop mortgaging our children’s future. So for us to betray what was a clear message from last November, then we would be ignoring the will of the voters.”
Republican Sen. Mike Lee recently told Newsmax that elected officials can’t accept a balanced budget amendment because it would lessen the power of Congress.
“First of all I agree with him, especially on the earmarking and pork barreling, which I’ve been fighting against for years,” McCain says. “It’s really corruption.
“But it’s more than that. I really believe that the president philosophically believes we need to spend more money. He had the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. That expansionary view is something that I think has gotten us into a lot of trouble.
“I’d also point out that during the Bush administration years we spent too much money too. That’s why I voted against most of the appropriations bills, because they weren’t paid for. So there’s blame to be spread around. But the deficit has gone from $10 trillion to $14 trillion on President Obama’s watch and he’s not going to be able to get away with ‘blame it on Bush.’
“I think Americans are most interested in jobs, jobs, jobs. But our view is that unless we get this spending under control we are going to use so much of America’s precious treasure on paying off the debt, the interest on the debt, that we will not be able to create jobs.
“Two quick recommendations: One, a hiring freeze on federal employees. Just stop hiring. That’s what Ronald Reagan did. And the other is a moratorium on regulations. Ask any business person, small or large, and they will tell you they are being choked by regulations. The number and amount and the cost of regulations that have been enacted in this administration is unbelievable.”
As for which party was helped most by the debt debate, McCain tells Newsmax: “Neither came out looking very good. But it is a fact that the president was basically a bystander. The deal was really orchestrated by Mitch McConnell.
“Presidents are supposed to lead, and I think the American people are fully aware that he didn’t lead.”
Asked what four more years of the Obama administration would mean for America, McCain says: “I’d obviously be very concerned about it. And I’m confident, by the way, that we will come up with a candidate that will be viable, that will be competitive, and I really believe we will win.”
McCain says his 2008 vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin, if she chooses to run for president in 2012, would be “a very viable candidate, in spite of the merciless attacks that the liberal media continue to mount on her.”
McCain says a balanced budget amendment could not pass the current Senate — although he thinks it would be the “ultimate solution” to the spending problem — and thinks Washington should implement reforms to Medicare and Social Security that are “absolutely necessary.”
And on the FAA shutdown, he says Republicans must continue to fight Democrats’ efforts to make it easier to unionize the airlines and to continue funding small, unnecessary airports, “subsidizing up to $3,000 taxpayer dollars per ticket. We want to do away with that kind of obscene subsidies, which we can’t afford.”
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