McCain Followed Lobbyist-Advisors in Killing American Jobs
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 08:38:13 AM EDT
The ongoing story of John McCain's all-too-close ties to the lobbying community gets that much more tangible today. The AP's team of Jim Kuhnhenn and Matthew Daly report that the top advisors for McCain's presidential bid were lobbying for European manufacturer Airbus to receive a multi-billion dollar deal from the federal government instead of American manufacturer Boeing -- at the same time that McCain squashed the Boeing deal, which subsequently went to Airbus.
Top current advisers to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign last year lobbied for a European plane maker that beat Boeing to a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, taking sides in a bidding fight that McCain has tried to referee for more than five years.
Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain's campaign. A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain's national finance chairman
McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in waiting, has been a key figure in the Pentagon's yearslong attempt to complete a deal on the tanker. McCain helped block an earlier tanker contract with Boeing and prodded the Pentagon in 2006 to develop bidding procedures that did not exclude Airbus.
EADS' interest in the tanker deal is evident in the political contributions of its employees. From 2004 to 2006, donations by its employees jumped from $42,500 to $141,931, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. So far this election cycle, company employees have donated $120,350. Of that, McCain's presidential campaign has received $14,000, the most of any other member of Congress this election cycle.
This story hurts McCain on so many levels. To begin, it seriously undercuts the notion that he is a real reformer. McCain has put himself forward as THE driving force behind killing the Boeing deal, which he said he did in the interest of clean government. But just how clean is it for a career politician to do the bidding of his key donors and lobbyist-supporters? Were this this only evidence of McCain doing the bidding of lobbyists close to him, perhaps he would be able to get a pass. Yet given all of the recent revelations about McCain and lobbyists -- that his staff believed that he had an inappropriately close relationship with a telecom lobbyist at the time that he was overseeing the industry as chairman of the Senate Communications Committee, that his campaign is chock full of lobbyists -- it's hard to see this new story as anything but another example of McCain not knowing how to or being willing to extricate himself from the Washington special interest power game.
But this story goes beyond that as well. The Boeing deal would have supported 44,000 new and existing jobs across 40 states -- jobs that will be shipped to Europe and elsewhere as a results of the tag-team combination of McCain in the Senate and McCain's lobbyists pals on K Street. At a time when the economy appears to be faltering and America faces tepid job growth -- or even job losses -- it's not clear to me that the American public is clamoring for someone who is so tone deaf about employment issues.
McCain can, and likely will, try to spin this as an example of his reformist ways. But looking at all of the details, it's becoming ever more clear that McCain's interest is not as much in reform as it is whatever is in the best interest of his lobbyist supporters and pals.