From CBS News' Andante Higgins:
John McCain is in Pennsylvania where his Democratic rivals continue to duke it out as they move toward their primary contest later this month. He is expected to unveil another portion of his economic proposals and policies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The Republican presidential hopeful will call for a "gas tax holiday, a one year freeze of discretionary spending, and a review of every government program and agency from top to bottom." He will also push for emergency education loans, and reform in Medicare's prescription program asking some members to pay for their own medication. "People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers," McCain said. "Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so. This reform alone will save billions of dollars that could be returned to taxpayers or put to better use."
McCain says he wants to adjust the tax code so that is fairer. On tax day, he will propose to increase the exemption for dependents from $3500 to $7000. He says a "gas tax holiday" will bring a timely reduction in the price of gas which will also impact the price of food and almost everything else. "I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people – from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year. The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus – taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up," McCain will say, according to excerpts provided by his campaign.
McCain's philosophy is to go after concentrations of power that are no longer accountable or transparent to the people. His aides say everyone is on notice as he calls for a halt in government spending. "I will also order a prompt and thorough review of the budgets of every federal program, department, and agency. While that top to bottom review is underway, we will institute a one-year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veteran's benefits," McCain says. In the interest of transparency and accountability, he will also propose posting all reports associated with each agency's review and activity on the internet for taxpayers to review.
He will also propose that each state meet it's obligation to provide last resort student loans. "In the years ahead, these young Americans will be needed to sustain America's primacy in the global marketplace. And they should not be denied an education because the recklessness of others has made credit too hard to obtain."
Last night McCain continued hammering Barack Obama, calling him "truly out of touch" and suggesting he give an apology for his remarks about small town Americans. McCain also went after Obama for not condemning former President Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas, and for not agreeing to use public funds for the general election.
"I think it may be defining [for Obama] because it shows a fundamental attitude about the heartland of America," McCain said. "I think it's pretty important. And the fact he fact that he continues to say that he does not apologize for those remarks, I think indicates a certain out of touch elitism."
"Small town America is the heartland of America. They've provided some of our bravest and most successful you men and women. They know that they've been through tough times. And they know that the future of America is brighter and better ahead of us. They're not given to depression, and they don't shape their values about hunting or about their religion because they're unhappy about the economy. That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the American people and he's truly out of touch," he added.