While campaigning in Michigan today Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden retaliated against the idea that John McCain equals change and a better economy by comparing McCain and Bush specifically on the issues of the economy, healthcare, taxes, and energy.
“Eight years ago, a man ran for President who claimed he was different, not a typical Republican. He called himself a reformer. He admitted that his Party, the Republican Party, had been wrong about things from time to time. He promised to work with Democrats and said he’d been doing that for a long time…We saw how that story ends. A record number of home foreclosures. Home values, tumbling. And the disturbing news that the crisis you’ve been facing on Main Street is now hitting Wall Street, taking down Lehman Brothers and threatening other financial institutions,” Biden said.
Biden continued, “Eight years later, we have another Republican nominee who’s telling us the exact same thing: This time it will be different, it really will. This time he’s going to put country before party, to change the tone, reach across the aisle, change the Republican Party, change the way Washington works. We’ve seen this movie before, folks. But as everyone knows, the sequel is always worse than the original. If we forget this history, we’re going to be doomed to repeat it — with four more just like the last eight, or worse. If you’re ready for four more years of George Bush, John McCain is your man. Just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed “Bush 41” and his son is known as “Bush 43,” John McCain could easily become known as “Bush 44.””
Biden then moved into the policy comparison, “Take a hard look at the positions John has taken for the past 26 years, on the economy, on health care, on foreign policy, and you’ll see why I say that John McCain is just four more years of George Bush. On the issues that you talk about around the kitchen table, Mary’s college tuition, the cost of the MRI for mom, heating our home this winter — John McCain is profoundly out of touch. John McCain just doesn’t seem to understand what middle class people are going through today. I don’t doubt that he cares. He just doesn’t think that we have any responsibility to help people who are hurting.”
He said there is no difference between Bush and McCain on the issues, “There is simply no daylight – at least none I can see — between John McCain and George Bush. On every major challenge we face, from the economy, to health care, to education and Iraq, you can barely tell them apart. Don’t take my word for it, look at the record. Ninety percent of the time, John McCain votes with George Bush.”
Biden, then got specific, “When George Bush called for Social Security to be privatized, John McCain stood with him – he even campaigned for that roundly rejected plan. When George Bush says that the government has no obligation to re-train or provide extended unemployment benefits for people who have lost their jobs due to trade agreements, John McCain echoes that view, and has said that Bush is “Right on trade… absolutely.””
He continued, “When George Bush said we shouldn’t investigate why the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina was so incompetent, John McCain stood with him. When George Bush initially opposed a new GI Bill that would send a new generation of veterans to college, John McCain stood with him, calling Senator Webb’s effort too generous. When George Bush blocked our efforts to provide health care to another 3.8 million children, John McCain stood with him.”
He also brought back the charge that McCain wants to tax employee healthcare benefits, “And when, in early 2007, George Bush suggested that the health care benefits you get through your employer should be taxed as income, John McCain stood with him. And now, ladies and gentlemen, John McCain has resurrected that idea, and made it an essential part of his health care plan. Issue after issue, vote after vote, the story is the same. In the last 16 years, he’s voted 23 times against the renewable energy – wind, solar, biofuels — we need to free ourselves from foreign oil. Since he arrived in the Senate over 20 years ago, he’s voted more than 19 times against the minimum wage.”
If Obama wants to win this election, he has to debunk the myth that McCain represents a change from George W. Bush. The truth really is that McCain is four more years of Bush. This is why the Republican is not running his campaign based on the issues. If he were to run an issue based campaign, people would discover that McCain agrees with Bush on all of the major issues in this election.
In order to conceal this fact, McCain is running a campaign based on biography and distractions. As Democrats have discovered in the last two presidential elections, being right on the issues doesn’t matter if they can’t cut through the clutter and get their message out. Biden’s speech today was their first real attempt at shifting the discussion away from pigs and lipstick, and back to the issues, and who John McCain really is.
Read the full text of Biden’s remarks here.