This story was written by Eli Dile, The Pitt News
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain spoke at Carnegie Mellon University Tuesday morning about how he intends to improve the United States' struggling economy if elected president.
The fact that Tuesday was tax day made the Arizona senator's speech seem all the more appropriate. It was also appropriate because McCain has been under fire recently for a statement in which he admitted not understanding the economy as well as he should.
McCain said that it is time for the government to do something constructive about the country's deteriorating economy.
"We have a responsibility to act, and if elected I intend to act quickly and decisively," McCain said.
McCain began his speech by blaming the country's poor economic situation on traders' and bankers' "excesses," which have hurt the average American. Economic aid should not go to these people but to the poorer Americans who are really struggling to get by, according to McCain.
McCain criticized Democratic presidential nominees Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton for wanting to impose more taxes that, though they claim would only fall upon the wealthy, would affect the poor, too.
McCain said that as president he would reform Social Security and Medicare without raising taxes.
He promised to reform the United States' tax system radically so that the wealthy are not as favored, as well as introduce a tax cut that he said would save middle-class Americans more than $2,000 a year.
McCain also proposed that the government lower taxes on gas this summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Clinton's policy director Neera Tanden called McCain's plans "double-talk" and said that they represent "a George Bush-redux of corporate windfalls and tax cuts for the wealthy that will bankrupt our government and leave working families with the bill."
McCain denounced Clinton and Obama for their views on free trade, saying they represent "protectionism" in American industry.
He also criticized Congress for the amount of money it spends on pork-barrel projects and said that as president he would put an end to such spending. He used Clinton's attempt to secure $1 million for the "all important" Woodstock Museum in her state as an example.
"I have a clear record of not asking for a single earmark for my state. And my state is doing pretty well," McCain said.
As well as proposing a one-year suspension of discretionary spending, McCain plans to bring more transparency to government spending by having government organizations post where their money goes on the Internet.
McCain also stressed the importance of regaining the "good name" that Republicans, whom he believes are behaving more like the "big-spending Democrats," have recently lost.
He criticized Obama for his recent remarks describing Americans who have lost their jobs as "bitter."
McCain also pledged more money for community colleges so that those who have lost their jobs can receive training for new ones.
He detailed his plan to battle the sub-prime mortgage crisis by making available at every post office an application for a loan, backed by the government, to help those in danger of losing their homes to make an upcoming mortgage payment.
McCain said that in the coming weeks he will better describe his plan to improve the United States' economy, including how he plans to improve health care, escape dependency on foreign oil and create more jobs.
"I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such a personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the presidency with the humility of a man who cannot forget that y country saved me," McCain said in reference to his time spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
McCain said he was willing to work with Republicans and Democrats alike and talk with the average American in order to improve the economy.
"As I have always done, I will make my case to every American who will listen. I will not confine myself to the comfort of speaking only to those who agree with me," he said.
Carnegie Mellon freshman accounting major Sean Burke hasn't made up his mind about whom he will vote for come November. Though he is an Independent, he was impressed by McCain's speech and by his nonpartisan politics.
"Even though he's Republican, I think he'll get a lot of Democrat support," Burke said.
Carnegie Mellon senior Max Kozhevnik, also an accounting major, was not so impressed.
"A lot of the stuff he said was a lot of generalities," Kozhevnik said.
"Some of the things he said didn't add up," he said in reference to McCain's plan for reforming Social Security without raising taxes.
"You can't have one without the other," Kozhevnik said.
© 2008 The Pitt News via U-WIRE