First-time voter chooses McCain

In his legendary 1964 speech known as “A Time for Choosing,” Ronald Reagan presented a timeless perspective on government and the problems America then faced as he endorsed Barry Goldwater for President. Now, in 2008, we have again come to a time for choosing.

Given the stakes of this election—success in the ongoing war in Iraq, recovery from an inevitable recession, testy relations with such nations as Iran and Venezuela—as a college freshman I have chosen to cast my first vote for Sen. John McCain.

The stakes are high, and America needs an experienced, steady hand at the helm. Sen. McCain’s distinguished service in the U.S. Navy, House of Representatives and Senate prove, beyond any doubt, that he possesses the experience and judgment required of the times.

Contrary to Sen. Obama, who has very few notable bipartisan accomplishments, Sen. McCain’s record, much to the distaste of conservatives like myself and often to the pain of the President, is one of reaching across the aisle to get things done, often at great political risk. Whether it be on immigration, climate change, Guantanamo Bay, the Gang of 14, what have you, Sen. McCain has a proven record of bipartisan achievement and substantial government experience.

As Hillary Clinton put it, “[Sen.] McCain has a lifetime of experience he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.”

Reluctant conservatives like me may disagree with McCain half the time, but the choice is clear.

With recession imminent, it is essential that the right policies be instituted to stimulate the economy and encourage investment. Sen. Obama’s proposal to raise taxes in a time of economic hardship ignores the fact that the top 1% already pay 40% of all income taxes, according to the IRS; the top 5% pay 60% of the tax bill. Not to mention he has a solid record of tax hikes, not tax cuts.

Sen. Obama’s proposals to increase taxes on capital gains (investments), corporations, Social Security and income (actually those in the top-two income tax brackets (making $182,000 and above, not just $250,000), as the liberal, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman acknowledged in the New York Times last week) would discourage the type of economic involvement that pro-growth policies would work to encourage.

Herbert Hoover’s tax increases in 1932 helped jumpstart the Great Depression, but when Reagan cut the 70% rate down to 28%, it led to a significant turnaround in a recessionary economy. In a serious economic downturn, it is essential that the government institute pro-growth policies to encourage job creation and investment in the economy, especially when it is so necessary that capital (wealth used to finance business operations) be injected into the market.

Sen. McCain’s plans would encourage the kind of growth this economy needs to get out of the impending recession more quickly. He has wisely proposed cutting the corporate tax rate from 35%—the second highest in the world—to 25%, the average in Europe. This would, as he rightly points out, boost America’s competitiveness and make it less expensive to do business here, thereby encouraging jobs to remain in America.

Sen. McCain has also proposed slashing the capital gains tax in half, to 7.5%. In a time when investment is critical, cutting the capital gains tax is a surefire way to inject capital into the market.

He has put forth across-the-board tax cuts for individuals of all income brackets, which would let every taxpayer keep more of what they’ve earned and promote job creation. Sen. McCain’s prescription will help heal the economy; Sen. Obama’s will only spread the cancer.

Obama’s extreme talk of increased regulation is dangerous. Already the United States has been rated 8th in the world for economic freedom—after being 3rd in just 2001. The more regulation fiddled throughout the market, the more expensive it is to do business.

Case-in-point: The oil industry is so overwhelmingly regulated that no oil refineries have been built in 35 years because of it. While some regulation is needed, too much stifles efficiency, which is key to a healthy economy.

On foreign policy, Sen. McCain’s track record proves that he is ready to handle whatever comes at him. Joe Biden’s admission that Obama will be “tested” by “an international crisis” in his first six months substantiates the point: How can we risk Obama failing the test when failure is not an option? As Biden himself said, “the presidency does not lend itself to on the job training.”’

Iraq and Georgia underscore this point. When Russia invaded Georgia, Obama urged “restraint by both sides” until he finally realized that Georgia was the victim. McCain, on the other hand, immediately called it for what it was: unprovoked Russian aggression. Biden knew it, but he’s not the one vying to answer the 3 A.M phone call—Obama is.

On Iraq, while he supported the war (along with Clinton, Kerry, and Biden), McCain recognized that the Bush post-Saddam strategy was failing, and he battled the administration for tactical changes, despite intense political pressure to shut up. After the Surge strategy he advocated was finally implemented, he was proven right.

Obama indeed opposed the war in the beginning as a state senator (when it was actually politically beneficial for him given the area of Chicago he was representing in the Illinois Senate), but when he could actually help shape policy in Iraq, he chose to push for a precipitous withdrawal and opposed the Surge. Now even he has been forced to admit that the strategy was successful. According to Obama, the Surge worked “beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.” Not everyone’s, Senator. Just yours.

In his 1980 acceptance speech, Ronald Reagan stated, “Back in 1976, Mr. Carter said, 'Trust me.' And a lot of people did....'Trust me' government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what's best for us. My view of government places trust…where it belongs—in the people.”

Barack Obama is offering us the Carter Philosophy: “Trust me and I will bring change to America.” When casting our vote for President November 4, it is imperative that every American bear in mind Reagan’s wisdom on “Trust me” government.

After all, with double-digit inflation, staggering unemployment and a 144-day hostage crisis, Carter’s one-term presidency didn’t turn out so well, did it? ------------------------ Jimmy Sengenberger is a political science student at Regis University in Denver, a 2008 honors graduate of nearby Grandview High School, a national organizer for the Liberty Day movement, aspiring radio host, and a columnist for the Villager suburban weekly.