John McCain Is Not A Friend Of Liberty

Pat Toomey, President of the Club for Growth, has an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal examining the record of Arizona Senator John McCain

As one might suspect, there is much in the Senator’s record to concern those of us who believe in individual liberty. Take, for example, his economic record:

Sen. McCain was one of only two Republican senators to oppose the 2001 tax cuts and one of only three GOP senators to oppose the 2003 reductions. Furthermore, his reason for opposing the cuts was taken straight from the playbook of the most radical left-wing Democrats. In 2001, Sen. McCain argued, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief.”

That statement is virtually indistinguishable from the class-warfare demagoguery used by Democrats like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. More importantly, it was grossly inaccurate. The Bush tax cuts lowered income taxes, and other taxes, for every American who paid them. In percentage terms, lower-income workers enjoyed the greatest savings, and today, upper-income workers pay a larger share of total income taxes than they did before the Bush tax cuts.

Additionally, Toomey points out, McCain has been a supporter of government regulation of the economy on many occasions. There is, however, one thing in his legacy that stands out above all others:

[O]f all his infringements on personal freedom, Sen. McCain’s persistent attacks on political speech are the most worrisome. The First Amendment is an important safeguard of pro-growth policies. When government strays from sound economic policies, citizens must be free to exercise their constitutional rights to petition and criticize those policies and the politicians responsible for them. The 2002 McCain-Feingold bill (or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), named in part for the Arizona senator who gave it life, seeks to squash political dissent by imposing grossly unconstitutional restrictions on citizen participation in political debate.

In defense of the bill’s provision severely limiting the freedom of private groups to run political TV ads, Sen. McCain argued in a Supreme Court brief, “These ads are direct, blatant attacks on the candidates. We don’t think that’s right.” He thus anointed himself the arbiter of appropriate political speech, worthy of deciphering which speech is “right” and which should be permitted in American political debate. His law constitutes the greatest modern infringement of the First Amendment right to political free speech. While bestowing significant advantages upon incumbent office holders, it has created neither a less corrupt political domain nor a more democratic one.

I noted last year that McCain-Feingold is the one reason why I will never vote for John McCain. Given his record as evidenced by the Club for Growth’s white paper, anyone who consider themselves libertarian or classical liberal should think long and hard before supporting him in 2008.

  • fava08

    The McCain-Feingold aims only at making the election process more fair. Limiting campaign finance from 3rd parties is more of a liberal ideal than a conservative one. The limited speech comes from the limited amount of financing that would be available. John McCain wants to make things fair. You’re confusing pro-growth with slander.

  • Steve S.

    >McCain-Feingold is the one reason why I will never vote for John McCain

    Hey! I feel exactly the same way.

  • Doug Mataconis


    And you’re confusing “fairness” with freedom of speech.