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Friday, March 14, 2008

John McCain's Rust Belt

By: Carlton Huffman

In a presidential race that is for now dominated by the economy, the Democrats have ample reason for glee while Republicans would do well to avoid being too close to George Bush and John McCain. With both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama riding a populist wave by denouncing NAFTA and free trade agreements with Third World nations the best that John McCain seems to offer is the permanent adoption of the same tax cuts he voted against in 2001 and 2003. In hard hit Michigan one was hard pressed to find relief in McCain’s campaign declaration that “your jobs are gone and they’re not coming back.” In reality it is the Reagan Democrats that enabled Republican hegemony of the White House from 1968-2004, with only three rude interruptions by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, that are going and not coming back to the Republicans.

On the trade issues that have determined the shape of the North Carolina and American economy McCain has consistently been on the wrong side. Before George W. Bush even took office, it was John McCain who voted for NAFTA and the agreement known as GATT which removed all taxes and tariffs on imports coming into the United States from all member nations of the World Trade Organization. 100,000 North Carolina jobs were lost from 1994-2000 according to the Rural Center thanks to these policies. This and the losses suffered by the nation hardly deterred McCain from continuing his enthusiasm for free trade when George W. Bush assumed the presidency. While McCain proved a thorn in the president’s side on judges, interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects, and taxes, McCain proved to be Bush’s twin on outsourcing America’s future to Red China and the Third World.

North Carolina is consistently listed in the top 10 states whom have lost the most jobs thanks to the trade policies enthusiastically endorsed by John McCain. If John McCain desire’s the public’s trust on the economy it is high time he practiced some straight thinking and not just smooth talking in the hopes that we forget his past. While the Republican nominee can take some comfort that both Obama’s and Clinton’s economic programs offer little in the way of solid solutions, it does little to ease the cold hard truth that McCain bears a large share of the blame for the economic ills facing the nation that he desires to lead. Before voters jump headfirst onto the bandwagon of those supporting McCain just because he’s the Republican nominee, they would do well to remember the past times that they were thrown under the Straight Talk Express on its way to the White House.

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