John McCain photo

Remarks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

October 08, 2008

Thank you all very much. It's an honor to be introduced by Governor Sarah Palin of the great State of Alaska. And I can't wait to introduce her to Washington as the next Vice President of the United States.

With your support, Sarah is going to help me to set the American economy back on the path of recovery, growth, and job creation for American workers.

Last night, in my debate with Senator Obama, I set forth a critical first step our country must take to get through this time of crisis. We must go to the heart of the problem, and right now that problem is a housing crisis.

Under my orders, as president, the Secretary of the Treasury will carry out a Homeownership Resurgence Plan. The United States government will purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgages services, and replace them with manageable mortgages.

The dream of owning a home should not be crushed under the weight of a bad mortgage. The moment requires that government act - and as president I intend to act, quickly and decisively.

In so many ways, Washington is still on the wrong track. We need change and I know how to deliver it.

The status quo is not on the ballot. We are going to see change in Washington. The question is: in what direction will we go?

Will our country be a better place under the leadership of the next president - a more secure, prosperous, and just society?

Will you be better off, in the jobs you hold now and in the opportunities you hope for?

Will your sons and daughters grow up in the kind of country you wish for them, rising in the world and finding in their own lives the best of America?

And which candidate's experience - in government and in life - makes him a more reliable leader for our country and commander in chief for our troops?

In short, who is ready to lead? In a time of trouble and danger for our country, who will put our country first?

I set out on my own campaign for president many months ago. I promised at the beginning to be straight with the American people, knowing that even those who don't agree with me on everything would expect at least that much.

In 21 months, during hundreds of speeches, town halls and debates, I have kept my promise to level with you about my plans to reform Washington and get this country moving again.

As a senator, I've seen the corrupt ways of Washington in wasteful spending and other abuses of power. As president I'm going to end these abuses - whatever it takes.

I will propose and sign into law reforms to bring tax relief to the middle class and help to businesses so they can create jobs.

I will get the rising cost of food and gas under control.

I will help families keep their home, and help students struggling to pay for college.

I will make health care more accessible and affordable.

I will impose a spending freeze on all but the most vital functions of government.

I will review every agency of the federal government, improve those that need to be improved and eliminate those that aren't working for the American people.

I will confront the ten trillion-dollar debt that the federal government has run up, and balance the federal budget by the end of my term in office.

This is the agenda I have set before my fellow citizens. And the same standards of clarity and candor must now be applied to my opponent.

We have all heard what he has said, but it is less clear what he has done or what he will do. What Senator Obama says today and what he has done in the past are often two different things.

Rather than answer his critics, Senator Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked. He has even questioned my truthfulness. And let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don't need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn't seek advice from a Chicago politician.

What was my opponent's actual record in the years before the great economic crisis of our lifetimes?

This crisis started in our housing market in the form of subprime loans that were pushed on people who could not afford them. Bad mortgages were being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was only a matter of time before a contagion of unsustainable debt began to spread.

This corruption was encouraged by Democrats in Congress, and abetted by Senator Obama. I was the one who called at the time for tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that could have helped prevent this crisis from happening in the first place. And Senator Obama was silent on the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in.

As recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, "a good idea." Well, Senator Obama, that "good idea" has now plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

To hear him talk now, you'd think he'd always opposed the dangerous practices at these institutions. But there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. He was surely familiar with the people who were creating this problem. The executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have advised him, and he has taken their money for his campaign.

He has received more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other senator in history, with the exception of the chairman of the committee overseeing them. Did he ever talk to the executives at Fannie and Freddie about these reckless loans? Did he ever discuss with them the stronger oversight I proposed? If Senator Obama is such a champion of financial regulation, why didn't he support these regulations that could have prevented this crisis in the first place? He won't tell you, but you deserve an answer.

On health care, Barack Obama has been misleading on two fronts. Offhand, it's hard to say which health-care proposals he has misrepresented the most - his own or mine. He has said that his goal is a single payer system where government is in charge of health care. Under the plan he has proposed, he will fine employers who do not offer health insurance and put their employees in government health care. What he doesn't say, and what nobody has asked, is how big his fine will be. You deserve an answer, and you sure didn't get one last night.

Again on taxes, we see a difference between what Senator Obama says today, what he said yesterday, and what he has actually done. During the Democratic primary, he promised to double taxes on every American with a dividend or an investment. He promised to raise payroll taxes. He promised higher taxes on electricity.

And now all of the sudden Senator Obama claims he will give 95 percent of Americans tax relief. What he hasn't told you is that he would tax half of the income of small business in America. These are the people who have actually added 350,000 jobs at a time when America lost 700,000 jobs. They are the backbone of our economy, and our best hope to get America back on track. When I'm president, their taxes are going down instead of up, and we're going to help them create jobs for America.

Barack Obama's got a record on tax increases that he doesn't talk about very much. He voted for the Democratic budget resolution that promised to raise taxes on people making just 42,000 dollars a year. At the time, he even said his vote was intended to get "our nation's priorities back on track."

So if he's such a defender of the middle class, why did he vote to raise their taxes? Whatever happened to the tax relief he promised them when he was a candidate for the Senate? And why should middle class Americans trust him to keep promises he has already broken?

Senator Obama and I both have differences with how President Bush has handled the economy. But he thinks taxes are too low, and I think spending is too high. According to third party estimates, Barack Obama will increase government spending by over 860 billion dollars. That's on top of the trillions in debt that we've already burdened our children and grandchildren with. When I'm president, I'll cut the size of government. I will put the government back on the side of America's working families, and I will get this country moving again.

Then there's the matter of earmarks. In his three short years in the Senate, he has requested nearly a billion dollars in pork projects for his state - a million dollars for every day he's been in office. Far from fighting earmarks in Congress, Senator Obama has been an eager participant in this corrupt system.

Last night I mentioned the example of the more than 3 million dollars he sought for a new projector at a planetarium in his hometown. Coincidentally, the chairman of that planetarium pledged to raise more than $200,000 for Senator Obama's campaign. We don't know if they ever discussed the money for the planetarium, and no one has asked Senator Obama. But even the appearance of this kind of insider-dealing disgusts Americans. I'm going to put a stop to that, my friends, if I'm President.

Who is the real Senator Obama? Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle class taxes?

Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?

Is he the candidate who promises change, or is he the politician who has bought into everything that is wrong with Washington? We can't change the system with someone who's never fought the system.

Washington is on the wrong track and I'm going to set it right. The American people know my record. They know I am going to change Washington, because I've done it before.

They know I'm going to reform our broken institutions in Washington and on Wall Street because I've done it before. They know I'm going to deliver relief to the middle class, because that's what I've done.

You don't have to hope that things will change when you vote for me. You know things will change, because I have been fighting for change in Washington my whole career. I've been fighting for you my whole life. That's what I'm going to do as President of the United States. Fight for you and put the government back on the side of the people.

Thank you.

John McCain, Remarks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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