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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Posted on Apr 3, 2008

By David Sirota

I’ll admit it: I used to admire John McCain.

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To paraphrase the UFO poster from “The X-Files,” I wanted to believe.

Specifically, I wanted to believe the guy talking tough about campaign finance reform was committed to getting money out of politics. This was the Arizona senator who in 2002 taped a radio ad praising his state’s “clean elections” system. It provides public money to candidates so they don’t have to finance campaigns with corporate contributions—the kind given in exchange for legislative favors. McCain’s support for clean elections, I thought, proved he wanted to end corruption.

But by the time the senator showed up here in Colorado last week for a fundraiser at Denver’s Petroleum Club, I knew I had been duped.

As The Washington Post reports, McCain is now “assiduously courting both lobbyists and their wealthy clients, offering them private audiences as part of his fundraising.” He has more lobbyists as fundraisers than any other White House contender, and he allows lobbyists to simultaneously work in his campaign and represent business clients. In fact, the Post reported that his chief adviser “said he does a lot of his [lobbying] work by telephone from McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus.”


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Such antics have run that “Straight Talk Express” into the ditch of hypocrisy. Just look at McCain’s actions on two huge issues: energy and campaign finance reform.

While McCain prepared his presidential run in 2005, a bill came up to permit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). McCain—the “maverick” who voted to prevent ANWR drilling in 2003—sided with the oil industry and reversed his vote. He has since signed on more than a dozen staffers and fundraisers who have represented energy interests, while his presidential campaign has been rewarded with $393,000 from the oil and gas industry.

Likewise, Democrats in 2006 authored legislation to implement a version of Arizona’s clean elections system at the federal level. McCain, who previously told PBS the system could be a national model, “dismissed the proposal with a flat ‘no,’ ” according to The Hill newspaper. As the nonpartisan Public Campaign Action Fund reports, McCain is the only current presidential candidate refusing to support public financing of elections.

Then again, McCain’s flip-flopping is likely the re-emergence of the real McCain—the longtime corporate crony.

For example, before voting against Arctic drilling in 2003, McCain voted to support such drilling in 1995 (yes, the “straight talker” was first for it, then against it, then for it again).

Additionally, McCain may have presented himself in 2000 as the crusader against corruption and in 2002 as a champion of clean elections, but he was originally a member of the Keating Five—the senators involved in an influence-peddling scheme during the savings and loan meltdown of the 1980s.

Now, rushing to build a war chest, McCain is doing everything short of putting a For Sale sign on his forehead. During a nationwide fundraising tour, he was showered with big donations after defending the lobbyist-written trade policies that have driven down wages. He is sure to raise even more cash as he shows his Keating Five roots when shilling for the financial industry. Last week, approaching the 21st anniversary of that scandal, McCain followed the advice of banking-executive-turned-campaign-adviser Phil Gramm and demanded that Congress oppose new Wall Street regulations in the wake of the credit crisis.

Indeed, this reversion to form is McCain’s catharsis of corruption, proving the senator is just another hired gun. In so publicly embracing Big Money, his message has become a series of embarrassing admissions—a campaign version of the book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.” There is just one difference: This Arizona hit man expresses absolutely no remorse.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” will be released in June. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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By VinnieTheSnake, April 9, 2008 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Economic situation dire.  Cause: greed and deregulation.
Most economists didn’t think we were headed for a recession.  This morning Greenspan said we’re in one.  That most likely means we are really in a depression.
Foreclosures, unemployment, credit card debt ... why? Deregulation Reagan began for the profit of his trickle down corporate strategy.  That’s worked well….

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By cognitorex, April 9, 2008 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

“McCain will make Cheney look like Ghandi.”
“He should put a sign on the “Straight Talk Express” bus. This bus makes U-Turns.”
Also recent articles have shown McCain’s method for smoke screening his “boughtedness.”
He sends letters to committees with seeming innocuous requests such as “This bill should have a yes no vote.” Or “this bill should be resolved in a timely fashion.”
In this way he signals committees that he is an interested party and wishes his influence to be felt. That he doesn’t specifically type out his client of interest’s name is his smoke screen ethics invention.
Oh happy days. Stop the looting of America.

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By samosamo, April 8, 2008 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for the words. I do realize that the rest of the world will take a big hit though not as big a hit as america will. But as I read Chalmers Johnson put it, for example, that if just the Saudis’ jumped to the euro, it would instantaneously put the usd worth the same as a slip of paper which is what our false economy is floating on. It would be as quick as the opening bell at wall street and the rest of the markets in the world.
So, it seems to me that it will happen one day even if it takes the time for the accumulative effect of many smaller nations going euro that would sink our economy and that is not a way I would really like to see the end of US hegemony. That would probably be the only positive side of collapse. But I also believe with these dangerous people running our country that the US would actually unload with a nuclear attack for the neocon’s idea of payback.
With the MSM hiding, lying and spinning it really makes for a perfect example of blowback because most of the americans are not informed enough by msm to understand much of anything that is actually happening right now much less what will happen in the future.

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By samosamo, April 8, 2008 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So right. One of the basic things one has to consider are the republican tricks. The republicans have not an ounce of integrity, compassion, patriotism, just no good qualities at all. They are scared, ruthless, conniving, greedy people. So expect and always take them as someone that will approach you for some reason other than what they ask of you.
The idea of ole johnny mccain not being elected whoever the vp choice is not an automatic loss. The 2000 and 2004 elections are proof. A stacked supreme court which had absolutely NO RIGHT to pull the trick game that they did and without much outrage at all. And anyone who thinks the dirty tricks were not in play in 2004 is the poster child of the republican’s dirty tricks ‘gotcha’ moments.
I believe this upcoming election will not be any different as the neocons have gotten so deep into the theft of this country and the world that most any thing that they can do to keep control of the white house will be done.
Don’t forget congress. It will not be enough to try to get the neocons out of the white house but in congress also. That will include any democrat that has played the game for the republicans.

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By G.Anderson, April 7, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

It’s always been a con from the start, of course they will talk about all sorts of patriotic things, to make McCain seem like America’s savior.

How can anyone in their right mind believe for one second that he will save us from the catastrophic damage that his political party has done to this country.

Ironic isn’t it. McCain our savior. After all he is a Republican isn’t he?

Next comes the disinformation, the confusion, the blatant lies, misdirections and dirty political tricks of a Republican party out to save the Wealth and the political power of the corporations, who have gutted this country down to the bone.

Will they be able to lie their way out of this one?

Maybe there plan all along is to run a V.P. that no one in their right mind would vote for, and then have that V.P. replace McCain at some point after the elections, due to health reasons.

Say Hell o to President Rice.

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By cyrena, April 7, 2008 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment


Your suggestion about the conversion to the Euro is at least ONE of the theories behind the reason to wipe out Saddam when they did. (Dick Cheney et al).

As the story goes, (and this isn’t my own work, but rather those of colleagues) Saddam Hussein had already decided to switch to the Euro, and specifically in reference to selling/trading Iraq’s oil. Additionally, he’d apparently ‘threatened’ to break with the OPEC ‘rules’ and was planning to open up the Iraqi supply for AS MUCH as could be pumped, and to whomever had the Euros to pay for it.

In other words, the word ‘on the street’ and specifically IN DC, and in HOUSTON, was that the oil was gonna flow, and that it would be traded in the Euro.

And, contrary to what others will argue, that would of course have tanked the US economy, and more importantly, you can imagine what it would have done to the Saudis, ARAMCO, and the BUSH/CHENEY/SAUDI/HALLIBURTON/CARLYLE GROUP/ETC connection. It would have brought the whole flipping house down.

As it is, and also contrary to Marshall’s assertion about the US being the sole constituent of the global economy, that is no longer the case, and not by a long shot.

That’s not to suggest that the tanking of the US economy won’t (or isn’t) having an overall effect on the global economy, because that would be naive. Still, China is regaining large portions of that once legendary Empire, and more and more and more countries are choosing to do business in anything OTHER than the USD.

Iran will only do business in the euro or the yen now, at least in respect to their own oil. Others increasingly join in.

It is the result (IMO) of the obscene greed that you’ve referenced, and it’s been coming for a while.

So, that’s just some food for thought. Supposedly, there are congressional ‘conversations’ that occurred prior to the disposal of Saddam, making it clear that if he were allowed to go through with his plans, the US would see a depression the likes of something that has never been imagined.

And so it goes…

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By samosamo, April 7, 2008 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Would you show or direct me to such polls? And you are wrong about ‘my ill-will towards the US’ being the issue or an issue. First, I will fall back on the ‘ALMOST’ word in my comment. Second, I still love the US; but in no shape form or fashion will you be able to take away my distrust and disgust of the electorate in DC and at state and local levels or a very high percentage of the vegged out people here in America. Last, where does the absolute love of money over and beyond obscene levels override the plain idea of being able to feed and defend and think for oneself?
I think there is so much criminality here and that so many people need to be held accountable that the inaction of the above listed is just cause for my feelings.

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By Marshall, April 7, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

I think your ill-will towards the U.S. is the real issue here since few countries would wish the global recession that would result if the U.S. economy tanked.  Not that it matters to you, but polls show that global opinions about the U.S. are improving anyway.

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By Marshall, April 7, 2008 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

You’ve pointed out the facts that most people believe the economy is the #1 issue right now, and that the country is off track.  But what the polls don’t show is that most people have no idea what being on “the right track” would look like.  And their belief that we’re off track is based on the fallacious belief that everyone else’s finances are hurting even though theirs aren’t.  Couple this with Congressional approval ratings that are below those of the President, and it’s anybody’s guess as to which way the economy issue will push the electorate.

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By Deborah, April 7, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sometimes, I can’t help feeling that we chose the slaughter and displacement of millions of Iraqis rather than dig in the ANWR.

And we’re going to end up digging there anyway and the lives of these people can never be replaced or their homes and infrastructure rebuilt.

Are the lives of brown people cheaper than polar bears? Was there ever a way to protect both and still have oil? Did anyone ever even care?

These are the questions I’d most like to ask them all. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz - and the current candidates as well - McCain, Clinton and Obama.

How could we have wreaked such death and chaos and not even give a damn - just go on to the next election cycle?

It makes me sick when I think about it too long. Quite literally ill.

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By samosamo, April 7, 2008 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Help me here please. Why has the rest of the world not jumped to euros for doing business? I would image that saudi arabia has been told not to convert by w & dick(his recent trip there) because that will allow them in the name of the US to nuke saudi arabia. Even if several other countries converted, it would slam dunk the US’s economy and considering the global ill-will towards the US, I am surprised this has not happened. And to extend that it ALMOST makes me want the rest of the world to convert because that would seem like the best chance or best case scenario for stopping our insane goverment’s imperialistic and empirial asperations which our current government absolutely refuses to do anything about except escalate with an invasion of Iran mixed into the mess.
So, any ideas?
I guess we have enough nukes to make anybody think twice about converting since w & dick have made preemptive nuclear strikes part of our empirial policy which makes that the basis of our economy.

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By cyrena, April 6, 2008 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

Yep…it’s Cheney & fiends, et al.

Now who would said this would be Cheney’s 11th presidency if McCain (no it cannot be allowed to happen) wins?

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By Bill Blackolive, April 6, 2008 at 10:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How come in all this MLK connected nobody reminds everybody MLK(this hero who in the US of A has many streets named after him)said: The US is the largest conveyor of violence on earth.  If I paraphrase any.  The man was putting the tail on the donkey, he was great.  But now at patriotsquestion9/11 we have too many to get shot.  It is time to whelm the farting fat white asses running the world.  They are hollow, been hollow, good grief.

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By Maani, April 5, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment


Actually, most eceonomists - on “both” sides of the fence - do NOT believe there is a direct connection between the war and the failing economy right now.  That is, I have read at least half a dozen or more articles by economist who say that, even if we had had an extra trillion dollars over the past seven years, it would NOT have made ANY difference re the subprime mortgage crisis and the economic meltdown that is occurring, not only in the U.S. but in other places as well.

So, no, I do NOT believe there “might be a connection,” since I have read NOTHING to suggest that there is.


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By Purple Girl, April 5, 2008 at 3:43 am Link to this comment

I feel for Ya! I voted for Bill 2x’s- was a avid supporter & Defender of both Clintons. Was Elated when she got her Senate Seat- Knew she’ run,even still Wished she would in ‘04 (despite her Iraq vote). But now the Mask has fallen off (thank goodness she didn’t run in ‘04- we’d be jsut as screwed) Hindsight is 20/20. But something has SERIOUSLY changed in Both these candidates over the last few years. I suspect that ‘Luncheon’ she had with W. -did they Hook her on the Herione from Afghanistan (Pelosi always looks stoned out of her mind Now- same for Feinstein- are they spiking the Water in DC?)
Teh other thing that concerns me about Mac (who I always thought was an admirable Foe) is he appears to have had a Stroke. I’ve worked in Long term care. His body mechanics appear to be those of someone having gone through Physical Rehab. His ‘Glitches’ in Recall are the same- same area of the brain effected by a stroke- therefore can not ‘remember’ even once told. Add to that his Personality Change (ideology). Mac is not the First Candidate with mental issues to be USED by those who prefer the ‘Shadows’ - Nixon, paraniod, Ronny HAD alzheimers while in Office (I saw the signs during the Irancontra Scandal-was vindicated when they finally admitted years later). HW was not th ebrights bulb in th eBox (Yes Man) Slipped when he said “New World Order”. and Obviously his son is has a low IQ with alcohol Damage to boot.
Who is Propping Up Mac- Look to the common thread of all these Puppets- Cheney & fiends.

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By cyrena, April 5, 2008 at 3:19 am Link to this comment

Maani, you still don’t get it do you?

•  “Despite those who continue to claim that the election is about the Iraq debacle, it has clearly become about the economy.”

Maani, for the umpteeth time, this isn’t an either or world, and the election isn’t about ONE thing or the other.

•  We don’t ‘seem’ to be in a recession. We’ve been in one since 2001, and it’s NOW a DEPRESSION! We didn’t need the NYT to confirm it, although I’m sure most of us read this article. So, maybe it’s helpful for those who’ve been in a coma for 7 plus years, to sort of ‘ease’ them into the REAL TRUTH of the real DEPRESSION!

Pretty much all of the jobless folks already get it though.

So Maani, do you think this disaster that is Iraq is pretty much just a side thing?
I mean, why should anybody care about that, right? And what could that POSSIBLY have to do with the economy?

Naw…no connection there. I mean, unless you happen across one of the many military bases here in the good ol US of A, you wouldn’t have any idea that there have been FOOD LINES on base for the families of troops abroad. And unless you happened across a VA hospital somewhere, you’d have NO CLUE to how many thousands of them are crowded into broom closets with no help for their injuries, be they physical or mental.

And of course if you never leave Manhattan, you don’t have a clue that the same scenes exist all across America. Blocks and blocks full of empty foreclosed homes, and families in tent cities. Nope, I’m not talking about Iraq, I’m talking about the Main St. USA, though certainly the same exits in Iraq as well.

Think there might be a connection there Maani, between a few trillion and counting, spent on the war, and that little economy problem?

Naw…couldn’t be.

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By jackpine savage, April 4, 2008 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

You’ve got a lot of issues…

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By ocjim, April 4, 2008 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

The whole McCain persona is not moderate, and is truly not even maverick. The John McCain persona is most aptly described as right-wing with moderate warps and maverick feints.

He is becoming the poster child for the neocons who control the Republican Party. His economic ideas are a joke. His health care plan is a slap in the face of the poor and the middle class.

If the media bothered to check his voting record it would find the truth. A statistical analysis of Mr. McCain’s recent voting record, available at, ranks him as the Senate’s third most conservative member.

If due to the prolonged battle for the Democratic nomination, McCain manages to prevail, it would truly be a case of Bush III, somewhat of a Bush clone, just as plutocratic, just as warlike – maybe even more, and just as ignorant about the economy and economics.

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By Maani, April 4, 2008 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

Despite those who continue to claim that the election is about the Iraq debacle, it has clearly become about the economy.  And this is why McCain cannot win:

The New York Times
April 4, 2008

Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s, according to the latest poll.

In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.

Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.

A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.

The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one. Today, however, Americans report being deeply worried about the country even though many say their own personal finances are still in fairly good shape.

Only 21 percent of respondents said the overall economy was in good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992, when the recession that began in the summer of 1990 had already been over for more than a year. In the latest poll, two in three people said they believed the economy was in recession today.”

Remainder of the article:


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By debbie S, April 4, 2008 at 8:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If interested there is a petition sight concernibg these issues.

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By DennisD, April 4, 2008 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain is a perfect example of why there should be mandatory term limits in government. Congress is full of them on both sides of the aisle.

Six years as a Senator or Congressman is more than enough time for a politician to accomplish something of value for the country and at the same time hopefully limits the amount of damage they can do.

Lobbyists and career politicians have destroyed our republic. Vote “all” incumbents OUT.

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By KISS, April 4, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Glad you came to see the phoniness of McShame. From his Hot-Dog antics in Vietnam [ 3 planes shot out from his ego mistakes] to the disastrous fire he caused on the USS Forestall, through more ego horseplay.
He was never a maverick, he voted the right way when he knew the bill had no chance of going through. After much clamor of being his own man he would flip-flop to the winning side, which was normally the wrong side for the betterment of us citizens. I blame our piss-poor media for his Senatorial success more than anything he did.

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By cyrena, April 4, 2008 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

Gee bert..

Is this an admission that you’ve accepted that it will be Barack Obama and NOT Hillary Clinton taking part in the November general election for the President of the United States?

Sounds like it to me.

Then again, you and I don’t have the same conceptual understanding of what ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ actually is. So, who knows.

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By bert, April 3, 2008 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

I’ll admit it: I used to admire John McCain.

You will be saying this:

I’ll admit it: I used to admire Barak Obama, 

after he loses in November

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