Back in October, John McCain lambasted President Obama’s mid-Atlantic “pass this jobs bill” tour as thinly-veiled electioneering (he was also offended by the president’s “ugly” Canadian bus). In a floor speech he said:
“Never do I believe any of us have seen the kind of activity that the president has engaged in, and all of it being charged to the taxpayers of America,” McCain said on the Senate floor, suggesting that the president was campaigning for his reelection in key swing states under the guise of promoting his jobs plan. “That’s wrong. That’s the wrong thing to do.”
“According to recent reports, the president’s campaign has raised record amounts of money already,” McCain continued. “The campaign should be paying for this North Carolina trip of his. And I don’t begrudge him beating up on us and criticizing us and making all kinds of allegations about not understanding his ‘stimulus two’ package, which we understand very well is more of the same. But at least this campaign should be paying for this kind of campaigning.” (link)
Now Senator McCain and hawkish fellow traveler Lindsey Graham find themselves in a similarly helpless position, unable to save the Pentagon from marginal cuts without a congressional consensus that would ward off sequestration. So just like President Obama, they’re going on tour to tout the government’s job-creating abilities.
The Senate’s leading defense hawks are preparing to launch a barnstorming trip to battleground states so they can build support for rolling back billions of dollars in budget cuts set to hit the Pentagon early next year. The idea: Rile up military constituencies in states like Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire to intensify pressure on President Barack Obama and wayward lawmakers into cutting a pre-election deal to soften the blow on defense programs.
The new pressure campaign, under development by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), comes at a crucial moment on Capitol Hill, as senators are trying to near an agreement before the August recess on overhauling the first year of cuts to defense and domestic programs, worth roughly $109 billion. And it comes as Obama is neck and neck with Mitt Romney in these same swing states where potential job losses resulting from the automatic cuts could have a profound effect on the November elections. “We need to bring home the message here of the devastating consequences of sequestration to industries, to people, to the military,” McCain told POLITICO.
Graham, for his part, has seen the folly of Republican fiscal intransigence and is now willing to look at revenues (he’s careful not to say raising taxes specifically) to finance levels of military of spending that exceed those during the Cold War. The article cites an industry-funded GMU study indicating that 2.1 million jobs could be in jeopardy if action isn’t taken. Several states that would be hardest hit, such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida, are in play this November, so perhaps that explains the senators’ concern. At any rate, Keynes would be proud.
Meanwhile, Jon Utley explains why we should stop worrying and love sequestration.