Sen. John McCain tells Newsmax that drug cartels and human traffickers have taken over Mexico and pose a direct threat to the security of the United States.
The Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential candidate also says bipartisanship is dead in this Congress as Democrats are intent on ramming through a left-wing agenda . . . asserts that the Obama administration has demonstrated a “fundamental misreading” of Iran and its nuclear ambitions . . . and warns that Americans will likely face a “dramatic” increase in taxes.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy for Newsmax.tv, McCain explains his support for the tough new immigration law recently signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in his border state.
“I think the legislation is clearly a reaction to the federal government’s failure to carry out its responsibilities and secure our borders,” he says.
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McCain notes that in one year, 241,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the border in the Tucson sector. Figuring they represent only about 25 percent of those who cross, McCain says that means “about a million people have crossed Arizona’s border in just one year. And it’s all mixed up with the drug cartels.
“Last year in Arizona, in the Tucson sector, they apprehended over 1.3 million pounds of marijuana. The drug cartels and the human traffickers have taken over Mexico, and they are a direct threat to the security of the United States of America.
“We all want to fix this problem, but the fact is Arizona reacted.
“By the way, that law does not mean that law enforcement people will stop someone simply to check whether they are in the country illegally or not. There has to be reasonable cause.
“The majority of lawmen that I have talked to in Arizona say they will train their people so there is no racial profiling.”
McCain and his fellow Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl have called for 700 more miles of fencing along the Mexican border, and McCain supports sending 3,000 troops to beef up security on the border. Ruddy asked if there is a long-term solution to the illegal immigration problem.
McCain responds: “Jon Kyl and I have a 10-point plan: 3,000 National Guard troops immediately; over time, 3,000 additional Border Patrol agents being hired; complete the fence; surveillance capabilities; hardship pay for those in the Border Patrol who work under tough conditions. It’s a long list.
McCain is currently facing a Senate primary challenge from former Republican U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, but one recent poll shows McCain up by 26 points. Most experts believe McCain will glide into a November re-election if he wins the August primary.
“The fact is that we can secure our borders. There are people who will say we can’t secure our borders. We can and we have already in certain areas of the country.”
The Finance Regulation Bill has now been cleared by the GOP to go to the Senate floor. Ruddy asked if Democrats are likely to incorporate some of the issues Republicans want in the bill.
“I hope so, and negotiations continue,” says McCain.
“But we run into philosophical differences about the role of government the way we did with Obamacare. So I hope we can get improvement.
“One question is, how much government intervention. Secondly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were two of the prime catalysts of this breakdown and there’s nothing in this legislation to address those two. They are still government-backed entities that are costing the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
“One more point: The real litmus test of this is, does it insure that no institution will ever again be too big to fail and require taxpayers’ dollars. So far this legislation does not do that.”
McCain has a history of working in a bipartisan fashion on important national issues. But is bipartisanship now dead in this Congress? Ruddy asked.
“I would say that’s largely so,” the senator responds.
“There are certain areas where we can work together. But to all intents and purposes, yes.
“The fact is, this administration came to power with 60 votes in the Senate, an overwhelmingly majority in the House of Representatives, and they decided that they would ram through legislation — the stimulus package, omnibus appropriations bills, healthcare. So there’s never been any genuine outreach on the part of this administration to work in a bipartisan fashion.
“I’ve been involved in bipartisanship, and it’s not there. And it’s compounded by the fundamental fact that Americans are a right of center nation and this administration is governing from the left.”
Should Republicans remember that if they come back into power? Ruddy asked.
“I think we should remember that we blew it last time by letting spending get completely out of control,” McCain says.
“We disillusioned our base. We still have a selling job to get people back. We have to make an absolute commitment that we will stop the out-of-control spending which has mortgaged our children’s futures.”
Sarah Palin has praised McCain for “leading the fight against reckless spending for decades,” while the Congressional Budget Office estimate that the national debt will rise to $10 trillion in the next decade. How do we solve this looming problem? McCain was asked.
“Let’s start off with a balanced budget amendment in the Constitution of the United States,” he responds.
“The city of Phoenix cut its budget last year by some 35 percent. We increased domestic spending here by some 20 percent. What’s the difference? We print the money.
“Sure we can get the budget under control. Will it be tough? Absolutely. But we are paying the penalty of letting these deficits get out of control.
“It was bad under Bush. It is terrible under this administration. The president just isn’t telling the truth when he says he inherited the problem. He inherited part of the problem but he has compounded the problem.”
The Bush tax cuts are set to expire this year — in the midst of a recession — and Democrats are already talking about a Value Added Tax. But McCain says there may be hope that Congress would compromise and keep the cuts for a while longer, and in general keep taxes under control.
“We have to try,” he declares. “For the American people the worst thing we could do to them is to raise taxes, which is what the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would be. But it appears that we’re going to see dramatic increases in taxes.
“The president has already contradicted his pledge during the campaign not to raise taxes on families making over $250,000 or individuals making over $200,000. There’s some $60 billion in new taxes on lower-income Americans just as a result of Obamacare. Disgraceful.”
If Republicans have a big comeback in the November elections, Obama might have to rethink some of these tax increases, according to McCain.
“I think we could force him to. I think we might even have a showdown, because it’s that important to American families that we not increase taxes.”
Iran could be within a year of developing a nuclear weapon. Why is Obama not pushing to make sanctions stronger and setting a deadline for Iranian cooperation? Ruddy asked.
“I don’t know,” McCain concedes. “There’s been this continuous outreach to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have pending sanctions in the Congress that obviously the administration is holding up.
“They continue to chase this illusion that the Chinese and Russians will cooperate with us on meaningful sanctions. They haven’t. They won’t.
“It’s a fundamental misreading of the nature of the Iranian regime. We have to speak out on behalf of the human rights of the Iranian people, and understand that this regime is bent on the acquisition of nuclear weapons.”
McCain adds that Israel is faced with “two terribly difficult choices” regarding the Iranian nuclear program.
“One is to allow the Iranians to continue and thereby proliferate the Middle East with nuclear weapons, and sooner or later a terrorist organization will get a nuclear weapon. Second, to attack unilaterally, and that of course brings the whole world down on them.
“If we could act on really tough sanctions, I think there is still an opportunity” Israel won’t have to face those choices.
McCain expresses misgivings about the START treaty Obama recently signed with Russia to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
“One of our concerns is that during the signing ceremony the Russians issued a statement saying that any missile defense developments that they thought were threatening” would allow them “to abrogate their involvement in the treaty. And that’s after we’ve been assured by the Obama administration that it wasn’t on the table.
“One of the things that brought about the end of the Cold War was Ronald Reagan standing up to Gorbachev and saying we will not abandon our missile defense efforts. It seems that this administration is at least trying to turn a blind eye to a statement made by the president of Russia that missile defense developments in Europe would be viewed as a reason for them to abrogate their involvement in the treaty. That’s not acceptable.”
Finally, McCain was asked, after being in Congress for nearly three decades, how he would compare this current time period with the past.
“I have great faith in this country and its ability to make the 21st century as the 20th century was, the American century,” he tells Newsmax.
“But in the short term there’s an appearance of [America’s] weakness through the world. The Chinese have become assertive in our own hemisphere. We have Hugo Chavez buying $4 billion worth of weapons from the Russians. There’s a perception in the Middle East that we may be leaving, causing certain individuals and countries to reassess their relationship with America and other countries. There’s the statement from President Obama that we would withdraw from Afghanistan in 2011 no matter what.
“So there is an appearance of weakness. There was an appearance of weakness under Jimmy Carter.
“I have a great confidence in the fact that we’re still the best nation — militarily, economically, ideologically — in the world, and under the right leadership we will maintain our position.
“I was very disturbed by the president’s statement that the United States remains the world’s premier superpower, military power, ‘whether we like it or not.’
“It was a very interesting statement. We went to Bosnia to stop ethnic cleansing of Muslims. We went to Kosovo to stop ethnic cleansing of Muslims. We should have gone to Rwanda to stop genocide. America has a role in the world, and I’m proud of the role that we’ve played in defense of freedom and democracy — usually somebody else’s.”
Asked if he has any idea why the president appears apologetic about America’s role in the world, McCain says simply: “No, I don’t.”
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