Department of untimely policy initiatives

Over at the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog, Hilzoy had a great comment on news that John McCain may soon propose "economic measures aimed directly at the middle class" such as "tax cuts -- perhaps temporary -- for capital gains and dividends":

Because what everyone is really worried about right now is how they'll manage to pay the taxes on their massive capital gains.

The biggest surprise for me this year is how poor a campaign McCain has run since locking up the Republican nomination.

This is an open thread on the dumbest policy idea or campaign tactic McCain has come up with in recent months.

Dave in MA threw out some ideas in this diary earlier today.

Although McCain had no great VP options, in my opinion, I still think choosing Sarah Palin was among his biggest mistakes.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports,
Despite signals that Senator John McCain would have new prescriptions for the economic crisis after a weekend of meetings, his campaign said Sunday that Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, would not have any more proposals this week unless developments call for some.
There's a winning message! Everyone who doesn't think that current developments call for some economic policy proposals, please raise your hands.

Tags: capital gains taxes, Economic Policy, Economy, John McCain, Sarah Palin, stock market, Tax Policy, Taxes (all tags)

Comments

16 Comments

Because what our economy REALLY needs...

...is more encouragement for people to sell their stocks.

by mistersite 2008-10-12 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

From 'the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should' through Phil Gramm's 'mental recession' to the 'fundamentals of the economy are strong' on the Monday after the Lehman Brothers collapse McCain's campaign has been absurdly out of touch, tone deaf and arguably incompetent on economic issues.  Looking back it is clear this long-standing shortfall has been a fatal weakness for a long time.  They have been denying indications of recession and avoiding the fiscal stimulus debate since January.

It is clear that neither McCain nor his campaign advisors understand the first thing about economics, when he called for a Federal spending 'freeze' in response to the credit crisis in the first debate with Obama I nearly blew my drink out of my nose.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-10-12 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

Politico.com has a good article which delves into McCain's new strategy, which I suspect he'll pair with attempts to scare people into believing Obama will raise taxes for most of them:

McCain to unveil new economic plans

Key excerpts:

As part of a plan to reinvigorate his flagging campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is considering additional economic measures aimed directly at the middle class that are likely to be rolled out this week, campaign officials said.

Among the measures being considered are tax cuts -perhaps temporary - for capital gains and dividends, the officials said.

McCain advisers hope that by being specific, he can pose a contrast to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who has been benefited from taking a vague but consistent approach to policy during the economic crisis.

Top McCain supporters have been agitating for a more robust economic package. It would give McCain something fresh to talk about on the stump, and dilute the perception that he's relying mostly on attacks in the final stretch.

McCain has careened from stance to stance on the economy, starting with saying the fundamentals are sound, focusing on earmarks, applauding new powers for the Treasury Department, then advocating a bailout for homeowners.

In a matter of weeks, McCain has gone from being a conventional tax-cutting conservative to a big-government interventionist.

Officials could not say what the package might include because more than 30 ideas have been put in front of McCain during the current crisis, and they said he has to choose what to unveil and when.

Among the ideas that have been considered are a bigger tax deduction for middle class mortgages, and more a more robust loan program for small businesses. But officials said the front-burner ideas all dealt specifically with markets.

McCain's new package would amount to a do-over from the hasty introduction of McCain's mortgage buy-up program, which was widely criticized by conservatives and was seized on by Obama as a fresh target.

So top McCain advisers want him to throw more out there, hoping it'll stick.

The measures being considered are aimed at jump-starting the economy by helping the middle class and bolstering trust and confidence in financial markets, the officials said.

On Friday, without fanfare, McCain during remarks in LaCrosse, Wis., proposed that Congress suspend the current U.S. Tax Code requirement that seniors begin selling their retirement assets at age 70 ½.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/100 8/14493.html

by phoenixdreamz 2008-10-12 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

Oh, and I agree with desmoinesdem that choosing Palin ranks right up there at the top of bad McCain choices. I actually thought he'd choose Romney, while at the same time hoping he wouldn't. If McCain had it to do over again, I don't believe Palin would stand a chance.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-10-12 09:46AM | 0 recs
there's no doubt in my mind

that Romney would have been a less-bad choice for McCain.

It would have alienated a lot of evangelicals, but Romney would have been able to hold his own in a press conference and a vp debate. Also, they could have touted his business background as a sign of valuable economic experience.

I still think the odds were against McCain with 75 percent of the country thinking we're on the wrong track, but Palin has done more damage to him than Romney would have.

by desmoinesdem 2008-10-12 09:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

The polls were already starting to move in Obama's direction, but the whole stunt with the non-suspension of his campaign is what really started it unraveling, I think.

by Jess81 2008-10-12 09:26AM | 0 recs
Hope Obama is Ready With Specifics

I know he's done everything but name them, but he should be ready to get specific with some of his policies because he'll get accused of not being able to.'

Beyond that, this is insane. You can't just pick random ideas and put them together and call that a plan. They have to work in concert, they have to form an overall strategy. Once again, when announcing their strategy ahead of time, they telegraph precisely why it won't work.

by vcalzone 2008-10-12 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

Let's see, let's see...

A Top 10 list, in rough chronological order:

1. Basically wasting the huge time advantage he had between him clinching the nomination and Obama doing the same. Seriously, he had a couple months of GOP coverage all to himself, and he couldn't even remotely break through the Democratic primary coverage. He didn't build a lead, and apparently didn't even build up that much in fund-raising during that time.

2. His campaign's seeming inability to assemble any kind of field organization. Perhaps republicans have gotten fat and lazy from churches handling so much of the peer-to-peer voter contact in years past. Listen to all the stories about how voters in battleground states haven't even seen McCain people on the ground.

3. The infamous cottage-cheese-and-lime-jello speech. His first opportunity to take on the newly minted Democratic nominee, and he blew it big-time.

4. Selecting Palin. Symbolic of the campaign as a whole: a short-term sugary confection instead of a big-picture strategy.

5. Not keeping Palin away from Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. Hiding her from the media is unpopular with us, but it makes sense if you know she'll unravel as soon as a non-Fox microphone is in front of her face.

6. 'The fundamentals of our economy are strong." Given the vast number of errors McCain has made, probably no one single moment will end up being considered the fatal one. But this is as close as you'll get to a devastating, defining gaffe, a la "I voted before it before I voted against it."

7. The suspension. Bad theatre done badly.

8. Lack of coherence on a bailout message. Okay, you mangled the suspension, but at least put together a coherent narrative on why it happened and how you'll fix it. Instead, every day brought a shifting message, a lack of clarity on the bailout and randomly assigned blame, which is really what killed him once and for all.

9. Not looking at Obama in the first debate. Does anyone remember anything else from that debate at this point, other than McCain's seething anger?

10. All Ayers, all the time. In the midst of arguably the greatest financial crisis since the Depression, Bill Ayers is their silver bullet? Talk about a completely unserious campaign in over its head.

And I'm sure there's more to come. Funny how we don't hear about the "genius" of Steve Schmidt these days...

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-10-12 10:07AM | 0 recs
good list

I agree, not making good use of the four months after he clinched the nomination was a colossal error. How many staff shakeups has he had this year? He can't run an organization well, it seems.

by desmoinesdem 2008-10-12 10:18AM | 0 recs
Steve Schmidt

Republicans don't make consiglieri's like they used to.  I swear, every generation removed from James Baker, they drop a good 20, 30 points of IQ.

by Jess81 2008-10-12 10:56AM | 0 recs
Never any good

The Rove-Schmidt campaigns were never any good.  They won because of factors that they did not earn or cause, but that worked to their benefit.

Without the corporate press/media War on Gore, the 2000 election would not have been close enough to steal.  

Without the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush would never have been very popular.  His policies would have been exposed to a public that doesn't like them.  No 9/11, no invasion of Iraq, no Young Churchill Great War Leader.  He would not have been re-elected, the 2004 War on Gays notwithstanding.

This year, left without these outside factors, their campaigns are exposed for what they are: divisive and not good enough to get a majority.

by James Earl 2008-10-12 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

No way! Sarah Palin = Total Gamechanger!

by MNPundit 2008-10-12 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

That I completely agree with. After she became unpopular, she accelerated his demise and his ship sank like a stone. I know the party spread is a bit off on Kos's poll, but you can't deny the severity of the drop in favorability that she has seen.

by vcalzone 2008-10-12 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

As you said we agree. I was referencing Jerome.

Heh.

by MNPundit 2008-10-12 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

I am sure the folks working two jobs to cover the rent and utilities - and maybe a few groceries - will be thrilled to know their capital gains and dividends taxes will be cut.  But what do you expect from someone who has proven himself clueless about the average working American?

by lilaruby 2008-10-12 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Department of untimely policy initiatives

The thing about Palin is that she addressed every perceived deficit in McCain's candidacy, and she's sui generis. McCain was under obvious pressure to choose a woman as a nod in the direction of progress, and would probably not have gotten any bounce with a man. There aren't a lot of Republican women who are governors or senators, and once you cross off the ones who wouldn't work out (pro-choice, too old, unpopular in their home states, etc), Palin is the only possible choice.

Not many people knew anything about Palin before she was chosen. Had her high approval ratings been justified, had she genuinely been a stickler for ethical behavior, had she nursed a secret passion for policy wonkery...well, the race would be a lot closer today. Unfortunately for McCain, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

by epenthesis 2008-10-12 02:44PM | 0 recs

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