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McCain Proposes Plan For Jobs

John McCain on Tuesday proposed updating the unemployment system and retooling training programs to help people who have lost their jobs - particularly older workers - adapt to a changing economy.

"Change is hard, and while most of us gain, some industries, companies and workers are forced to struggle with very difficult choices," the Republican presidential candidate said as he espoused free-market principles in a state that leads the nation in unemployment.

"But it is government's job to help workers get the education and training they need for the new jobs that will be created by new businesses in this new century," McCain added.

In a broad speech to the Detroit Economic Club, the Arizona senator promised to rein in runaway federal spending, simplify the tax code, help U.S. industries become more competitive and control spiraling health care costs. Speaking in the home state of the Big Three U.S. automakers, McCain also called for increasing fuel efficiency standards while maintaining auto safety.

"We can't keep this level of gas guzzling and make a strong impact on our dependence on foreign oil. It's a national security issue," McCain said in response to a post-speech question about gas mileage requirements. His remarks were met with silence from a skeptical audience. "I noticed no applause," he said with a chuckle before a few people obliged.

McCain spoke to about 500 members of the group hours before joining eight GOP opponents in nearby Dearborn, Mich., for a debate primarily on economic issues. The setting was fitting. Michigan's unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in August; the nation's was 4.6 percent.

In the speech, McCain slapped at his rivals generally, scolding them for "claiming to understand the finer nuances of markets and management. In fact, success has nothing to do with fancy theory." He said free people are the strongest economic force in the country.

As he does routinely, McCain also assailed Democrats and accused their party's presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, of backing dangerous economic policies.

"I will not let the Democrats roll back the Bush tax cuts," said McCain, who voted against the president's tax cuts but now supports them because he says that repealing them would amount to a tax increase.

Separating himself from Mr. Bush, McCain criticized federal programs intended to aid displaced workers, and called for:

  • Overhauling the unemployment insurance program so that it can retrain, relocate and assist workers to find new jobs.
  • Replacing a half-dozen outmoded and redundant jobs programs with a single system and drawing on the success of community colleges that he says does a better job than the federal government of giving workers skills they need.