Buying In
No, McCain's not perfect — but he's pro-market enough.


Deroy Murdock

Regarding healthcare, McCain warned in Tampa on April 29 that his opponents “urge universal coverage, with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end, this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly.”

Instead, McCain believes “the key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves.” He would expand Health Savings Accounts, and more dramatically, offer a tax credit of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help Americans purchase their own coverage, even across state lines. Freeing Americans to buy health policies outside their own states will create a national market for individual insurance and allow consumers to select coverage as simple or as comprehensive as their preferences and budgets permit.

“The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you,” McCain said. “It would be yours and your family’s health-care plan, and yours to keep.”

McCain also calls for reining in the misguided, multi-trillion-dollar Medicare drug plan. “People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don’t need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers,” McCain observed. “Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so. This reform alone will save billions of dollars that could be returned to taxpayers or put to better use.”

McCain previewed how he would lead. Beyond weekly press conferences, McCain told Ohio voters May 15, “I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.” This excellent idea would strengthen transparency and accountability. Legislators could grill McCain on his performance, while McCain could straight-talk senators and representatives — right to their faces. If this reform became a standard practice, the only candidates who would run for president would be those who grasp the priorities and details of governance and could communicate them clearly while under withering rhetorical fire. How refreshing.

There is a cautionary note among these encouraging signs: John McCain has beer-bonged the Kool-Aid on global warming.

“We need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring,” McCain said May 12 at a Portland, Oregon wind-power research facility.

He desires “a cap-and-trade system to change the dynamic of our energy economy.” His specific goal is to reduce CO2 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Former Virginia state climatologist Patrick Michaels estimated in the May 16 Washington Times that this would lower per-capita emissions “to 19th-century levels.”

Before relegating America’s mid-21st-century economy to the norms of the Grover Cleveland era, McCain should heed the expanding caucus of experts who believe so-called “global warming” is exaggerated, if it even exists.

On May 19, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine released a petition signed by 31,072 Americans scientists, including 9,021 Ph.D.s. They reject the idea that CO2 is boiling the Earth. So much for climate science being “settled.”

One hopes McCain will listen on this issue. Just as he recently has warmed to tax cuts, perhaps he will cool on “global warming.”

Nonetheless, McCain will remain a mixed bag. Sometimes he will annoy the Right. Other times, he boldly will go where no GOP standard bearer has gone since Ronald Reagan. As a wise man said, “John McCain is not perfect. Just perfect enough.”

– NRO contributing editor Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 Scripps Howard News Service