John McCain photo

Remarks at St. Anslem College in Goffstown, New Hampshire

October 22, 2008

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of Saint Anselm College and it's great to be here in New Hampshire! It's always a good day for me when I'm in New Hampshire. We go back a long way, New Hampshire. I've learned a lot over the years from the people of this state. And I know one thing for certain. It doesn't matter what the pundits think or how confident my opponent is. The people of New Hampshire make their own decisions, and more than once, they've ignored the polls and the pundits, and brought me across the finish line first. I can't think of any place I'd rather be as Election Day draws close than running an underdog campaign in New Hampshire.

As I said, my opponent's looking pretty confident these days. He'll be addressing the nation soon. He's got another of those big stadium spectacles in the works. But acting like the election is over won't let him take away your chance to have the final say in this election.

Every so often, my opponent gives us all a little glimpse of what an Obama presidency would be like in the real world. And last week his campaign actually found itself on a detour into the real world -- in the driveway of Joe the Plumber.

Now, Joe didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house, and he didn't ask to be famous. He certainly didn't ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign. Joe's dream is to own a small business that will create jobs, and the attacks on him are an attack on small businesses all over the country. Small businesses employ 84 percent of Americans, and we need to help small businesses, and not raise their taxes.

As it happened, the Obama tax increase is just what Joe had on his mind. So Joe showed the Obama traveling press how to ask a tough question, and get an answer instead of just another talking point. Thanks to him, we've finally learned what Senator Obama's economic goal is. As he told Joe, Barack Obama wants to, quote, "spread the wealth around."

In other words, Joe and guys like him will earn the wealth. Barack and politicians like him will spread it. Joe didn't really like that idea, and neither did a lot of other folks who believe that their earnings are their own. After all, before government can redistribute wealth, it has to confiscate wealth from those who earned it. And whatever the right word is for that way of thinking, the redistribution of wealth is the last thing America needs right now. In these tough economic times, we don't need government "spreading the wealth" -- we need policies that create wealth and spread opportunity.

It was a candid moment for Senator Obama, in the presence of a skeptical voter. And in a campaign as disciplined and careful as my opponent's, the worst missteps come when the candidate says what he really thinks.

We've seen this before. In a debate with Senator Clinton, he was asked why on earth he wants to raise capital gains taxes, when history shows that cutting that tax rate actually yielded more revenue to the government. Rates were cut in the Clinton years -- revenue went up. Rates were cut in the Bush years -- revenue went up. My opponent's answer was that taxes still had to be raised as a matter of, quote, "fairness."

Let's think about this very carefully. Here we have a case where increasing taxes would decrease the funds available for all the spending government does. But Senator Obama insists on a tax hike, as a matter of principle. And the principle seems to be the redistribution of wealth as an end in itself. Apparently, as my opponent sees it, there is a strict limit to your earnings and wealth, and it's for politicians to decide. The proper amount of wealth is not what you can earn, but what government will let you keep.

My opponent has spoken about the reluctance of citizens and business owners to part with their earnings. He understands that when it's time to spread the wealth around, quote, "They are not going to give up those profits easily." And readers of his book "The Audacity of Hope," might recall that he wrote about the need to "spread the wealth around" there, too. He writes of the need for "labor laws and tax laws that restore some balance to the distribution of the nation's wealth." He has talked elsewhere about how, in our day, "the distribution of wealth is even more skewed, and levels of inequity are now higher."

What are really skewed in all of this are my opponent's priorities. He talks about our economy in a detached and academic way, forgetting that the goal is not to redistribute wealth but to create it. And one thing academics are good at is inventing and redefining terms, which is what he's up to with that phony income tax cut for 95 percent of the American people.

When a politician tells you he's going to cut income taxes for 95 percent of all Americans, it's reasonable to wonder how he's going to do that for the 40 percent who pay no income taxes at all. Right now, tens of millions of Americans have an income tax bill of zero. How's Barack Obama going to reduce the number zero?

Well, that's the key to his whole plan: Since you can't reduce income taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit. And the Treasury will have to cover those checks by taxing other people, including many small businesses and a lot of folks just like Joe the Plumber. In other words, Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway.

What should really worry us is that Senator Obama can't possibly spend all the money he promises to spend without raising taxes even more than he admits he will or digging us even further into debt, weakening the dollar and making everything you buy, from groceries to gasoline more expensive. He has promised in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars in new spending over the next four years, and his tax increase won't cover all of it.

He talks a lot about "investing" in energy for America. His plan doesn't have much to do with actual production from existing energy sources, like offshore oil or nuclear power. But it does require 150 billion dollars of new federal energy spending over the next ten years. For infrastructure, he's promised another sixty billion dollars, for the Department of Education, another 72 billion dollars over four years. The list goes on through all sorts of other items ten billion here, another twenty there until finally we come to his new federal health care program. And that, by Senator Obama's own account, is going to cost at least 150 billion dollars a year.

So let's try to get all this straight. My opponent says he's going to cut income taxes for 95 percent of Americans -- including that miraculous reduction for those who aren't paying any right now. Then he commits to more than a trillion dollars in new federal spending. And even after voting for the 750 billion dollar rescue package earlier this month, he won't even specify a single cut in spending that he would consider. That leaves us with almost two trillion dollars in new spending to which Barack Obama stands committed, and no explanation at all of how he is going to pay for it.

Does anyone seriously believe that these trillions of dollars are going to come from only the very highest income earners? Even his supporters are skeptical. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said of these plans, quote, "There is not enough money to do all this stuff." An influential newspaper called his claims, quote, "neither politically nor economically plausible." That critique came from the editorial board of The New York Times, and when Barack Obama loses them you know he's gone too far.

For my part, I have set before America an alternative to the phony tax cut my opponent started talking about only months ago. My tax cut is the real thing. We're going to double the child deduction for every family. We will cut the capital gains tax. We will end taxes on unemployment benefits. And we will cut business taxes to help create jobs, and keep American businesses in America.

As Joe has now reminded us all, America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by giving our money to the government to "spread the wealth around." In this country, we believe in spreading opportunity, for those who need jobs and those who create them. And that is exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.

This is the choice that we face. These are hard times. Our economy is in crisis. Americans are fighting in two wars. We face many enemies in this dangerous world, and many challenges here at home.

The next President won't have time to get used to the office. He cannot invite testing from the world. He will have to act immediately. We cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: hoping for our luck to change. We have to act immediately. I said it at the last debate: I'm not George Bush; if Senator Obama wants to run against George Bush, he should have run for President four years ago. We need a new direction now. We have to fight for it.

What America needs in this hour is a fighter; someone who puts all his cards on the table and trusts the judgment of the American people. I have fought for you most of my life. There are other ways to love this country, but I've never been the kind to do it from the sidelines.

I know you're worried. America is a great country, but we are at a moment of national crisis that will determine our future. Will we continue to lead the world's economies or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? Will our military remain the strongest in the world? Will our children and grandchildren's future be brighter than ours?

My answer to you is yes. Yes, we will lead. Yes, we will prosper. Yes, we will be safer. Yes, we will pass on to our children a stronger, better country. But we must be prepared to act swiftly, boldly, with courage and wisdom.

I am an American, and I choose to fight. Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight.

Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what's right for America.

Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness in Washington.

Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead.

Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children's future.

Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Now, let's go win this election and get this country moving again.

John McCain, Remarks at St. Anslem College in Goffstown, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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