Obama starts out with agreement usually, and then moves on to the disagreements. It disarms the other guy, and makes the point more, well, pointy. Obama has mad skills, that's all.
And he's also right that oftentimes lobbyists and special interests are the ones that are introducing these kinds of requests, although that wasn't the case with me.
But let's be clear: Earmarks account for $18 billion in last year's budget. Senator McCain is proposing -- and this is a fundamental difference between us -- $300 billion in tax cuts to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country, $300 billion.
Now, John mentioned the fact that business taxes on paper are high in this country, and he's absolutely right. Here's the problem: There are so many loopholes that have been written into the tax code, oftentimes with support of Senator McCain, that we actually see our businesses pay effectively one of the lowest tax rates in the world.
And what that means, then, is that there are people out there who are working every day, who are not getting a tax cut, and you want to give them more.
It's not like you want to close the loopholes. You just want to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes. And that's a problem.
But that's Senate inside baseball. But let's get back to the core issue here. Senator McCain is absolutely right that the violence has been reduced as a consequence of the extraordinary sacrifice of our troops and our military families.
They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war.
And so John likes -- John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.
You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong. And so my question is...
And, John, I -- you're absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don't know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.
Now, Senator McCain is also right that it's difficult. This is not an easy situation. You've got cross-border attacks against U.S. troops.
So obviously, our policy over the last eight years has not worked. Senator McCain is absolutely right, we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. It would be a game changer. Not only would it threaten Israel, a country that is our stalwart ally, but it would also create an environment in which you could set off an arms race in this Middle East.
Now here's what we need to do. We do need tougher sanctions. I do not agree with Senator McCain that we're going to be able to execute the kind of sanctions we need without some cooperation with some countries like Russia and China that are, I think Senator McCain would agree, not democracies, but have extensive trade with Iran but potentially have an interest in making sure Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon.
And I'm glad that Senator McCain brought up the history, the bipartisan history of us engaging in direct diplomacy.
Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who's one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran -- guess what -- without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.
Now, understand what this means "without preconditions." It doesn't mean that you invite them over for tea one day. What it means is that we don't do what we've been doing, which is to say, "Until you agree to do exactly what we say, we won't have direct contacts with you."
There's a difference between preconditions and preparation. Of course we've got to do preparations, starting with low-level diplomatic talks, and it may not work, because Iran is a rogue regime.
But I will point out that I was called naive when I suggested that we need to look at exploring contacts with Iran. And you know what? President Bush recently sent a senior ambassador, Bill Burns, to participate in talks with the Europeans around the issue of nuclear weapons.
Again, it may not work, but if it doesn't work, then we have strengthened our ability to form alliances to impose the tough sanctions that Senator McCain just mentioned.
And when we haven't done it, as in North Korea -- let me just take one more example -- in North Korea, we cut off talks. They're a member of the axis of evil. We can't deal with them.
And you know what happened? They went -- they quadrupled their nuclear capacity. They tested a nuke. They tested missiles. They pulled out of the nonproliferation agreement. And they sent nuclear secrets, potentially, to countries like Syria.
When we re-engaged -- because, again, the Bush administration reversed course on this -- then we have at least made some progress, although right now, because of the problems in North Korea, we are seeing it on shaky ground.
And -- and I just -- so I just have to make this general point that the Bush administration, some of Senator McCain's own advisers all think this is important, and Senator McCain appears resistant.
He even said the other day that he would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain, because he -- you know, he wasn't sure whether they were aligned with us. I mean, Spain? Spain is a NATO ally.
No, actually, I think Senator McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues. Obviously, I disagree with this notion that somehow we did not forcefully object to Russians going into Georgia.
I immediately said that this was illegal and objectionable. And, absolutely, I wanted a cessation of the violence, because it put an enormous strain on Georgia, and that's why I was the first to say that we have to rebuild the Georgian economy and called for a billion dollars that has now gone in to help them rebuild.
Because part of Russia's intentions here was to weaken the economy to the point where President Saakashvili was so weakened that he might be replaced by somebody that Putin favored more.
Well, I think Senator McCain's absolutely right that we need more responsibility, but we need it not just when there's a crisis. I mean, we've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street.I'm pretty sure the preceding counts as an ass-woopin'. They are in different leagues. One's a thinker, the other a bruiser. Why isn't this election opening up? Oh, it is. Obama up 4.3 in the RCP poll.
And there are folks out there who've been struggling before this crisis took place. And that's why it's so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the -- a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.
Here is Byron York's moronic piece claiming all the instances of agreement mean something they don't. What a tool.