Political Scientists are known for developing theoretical examples and realistic case studies as postulates to explain why political actors behave in the way they do. Modern political scientists—heirs to the legacy of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Aquinas—spend much time analyzing current affairs, politicians, and the behavior of the voting (or non-voting) public.
Among my most respected contemporaries in this arena include Benjamin Barber, author of Jihad Versus McWorld and theorist in the area of participatory democracy, Dr. Graham Allison who blazed new trails in the area of executive branch leadership, the recently deceased Dr. Sam Huntingdon who wrote a score of books (most notably Clash of Civilizations), and my favorite of all, German-born Hans J. Morgenthau, known for best articulating arguments for a realist-based foreign policy and defense of the national interest.
It is at this time that I introduce my major contribution to the field: The McCain Corollary. This theory is quite simple in that it assumes, based upon prior action and legislative intent, that a guaranteed way to determine whether or not a legislative proposal is good for the country hinges on whether or not Senator John McCain supports or opposes it. The underlying assumption is that McCain’s support for a sweeping public policy change automatically indicates that said policy’s enactment ensures dire consequences.
Now for some reasons why this is so:
First, take the McCain-Feingold Act which squelches free speech by rationing political discourse, campaign donations, and the ability of organizations and political parties to advocate for or against candidates—the exact behavior that these organizations are formed to stimulate.
Second, consider McCain’s unwavering support for using the United States military as the world’s policeman, ranging from his borderline psychotic rants on television in support of President Clinton’s interference in the Balkans to his steadfast support of invading Iraq, a policy which has cost the nation more than any Obama-backed bailout or stimulus package. According to Professor Joe Stiglitz, the war will run a tab of $3 trillion by the time it concludes (which will likely never happen as a result of plans to indefinitely leave bases and 50,000 troops stationed there), not to mention the over 4,000 American deaths and the 51,000 Iraqi civilian and military deaths already incurred.
A third example is McCain’s frequent support for a mandatory cap and trade system for greenhouse gases, known smugly as the "Climate Stewardship Act," a sure-fire way to debilitate U.S. business and industry and enhance the positions of China, India, and the developing world at our expense. As DC Examiner columnist Irwin Stelzer points out, "companies that have to pay for permits will pass that cost on to consumers in the form of higher prices for electricity and other products," not to mention the volatility of implementing such a system in a financial downturn.
Finally, recall McCain’s efforts to grant amnesty to illegal aliens within the United States. This plan was concocted despite the fact that Americans pay roughly $346 billion per year in health and human services expenses for illegal aliens, according to the Manhattan Institute’s Edwin Rubenstein.
Pulling together these four examples of previous legislative behavior, we can now add the latest example to help prove the correctness of the McCain Corollary.
In a press release dated March 4, 2009, McCain’s office announced the introduction of a "new" McCain-Feingold bill. The Devastating Duo plans to further enhance the already immeasurably powerful executive branch by resurrecting the constitutionally dubious line item veto. Enacted originally by the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, the proposal was soundly rejected by a U.S. District Court in 1998 and then by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999 on a 6-3 decision in Clinton v. City of New York on the grounds that it granted the executive branch excessive power in amending acts passed by the legislative branch.
"There is no more compelling argument to granting the President line-item veto power than the more than 9,000 earmarks in the current Omnibus bill," according to McCain’s press release. "Our proposal will allow the President to submit earmark rescission requests to Congress–this will help to impose some much needed fiscal restraint and aid in the removal of wasteful spending from pork-laden legislation."
McCain’s logic is half-baked at best. He assumes that in order to combat earmarks, a necessary legislative tool, he must strip away powers reserved for Congress and hand them over the executive branch. The only reasonable explanation for this is that politicians like McCain would rather put out press releases condemning earmarks than attempting to explain why a member of the United States Congress would want to further weaken the branch of government in which he serves.
As Congressman Ron Paul—a fiscal hawk in every sense of the word—explained in his weekly column on March 16, 2009, "The misconception seems to be that members of Congress put together a bunch of requests for project funding, add them all together and come up with a budget. The truth is, it is not done that way. The total level of spending is determined by the Congressional leadership and the appropriators before any Member has a chance to offer any amendments. Members’ requests are simply recommendations to allocate parts of that spending for certain items in that members’ district or state." Paul goes on to suggest that earmarks make up only about one percent of the federal budget each year.
Another reason for continued skepticism over McCain’s dislike for earmarks is that without the earmarking process being undertaken by Congress, the funds which are not "earmarked" for certain projects in congressional districts are sent back to the executive branch to spend however it sees fit. McCain’s position again works towards the goal of a more omnipotent executive branch and a weaker legislative branch (you know, the one which was designed to represent the citizenry directly). Rather than congressional officials trying to bring money back to their states in a transparent way, McCain would rather have the money dished out by unelected executive branch functionaries.
Based upon his efforts to tweak the First Amendment, expand the warfare state, embrace amnesty, raise the cost of doing business in America, undercut the interests of the citizens who elected him by opposing fiscally transparent earmarking, and to enlarge the powers of the executive branch; it can be said that McCain’s support of a proposal is a harbinger for why Americans seeking to put "country first" ought to oppose it.
Thus the McCain Corollary: if one has any question whether or not a legislative initiative ought to be met with a complete rebuke, one only needs to see if Senator John McCain is supporting it.
Nathan R. Shrader holds an MS in Political Science from Suffolk University. He can be reached at [email protected]