McCain contradicts Maverick

The Senate Thursday approved the $700 billion bailout plan by a vote of 74-25. After failing in the House of Representatives days earlier, the bailout quickly became laden with well over $100 billion in corporate tax credits and earmarks to garner additional support. In voting for the bill, John McCain âÄî the self-proclaimed bane of park-barrel spending âÄî severely undermined his reformist credentials. âÄúI will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks,âÄù McCain declared in April. In St. Paul this September he threatened, âÄúThe first big-spending, pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it. I will make them famous, and you will know their names.âÄù As of Monday, McCain had yet to expose any porky congressional colleagues. The bailout âÄî designed to bolster liquidity in the capital markets âÄî included such earmarks as $2 million for toy wooden arrow makers in Oregon, $192 million in tax rebates for rum producers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and $49 million for Exxon Valdez. âÄúIt is completely unacceptable for any kind of earmarks to be included in this bill,âÄù McCain said in a speech late September. âÄúIt would be outrageous for legislators and lobbyists to pack this rescue plan with taxpayer money for favored companies. This simply cannot happen.âÄù It simply did happen, Senator, and you voted for it. To his defense, the bailout put McCain in a tough spot. A no vote could have been perceived as economic policy weakness while economic concerns dominate the electorate: a risky move. But mavericks make risky moves, especially to achieve long-held goals. Elimination of pork-barrel spending is a cornerstone of the McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin ticket. By voting for the bill, McCain has not only undermined his own campaign, but his personal integrity. If McCain is unwilling to risk popularity to stop âÄúrunaway earmarksâÄù in Congress, why would he do so in the Oval Office?