The Corner

McCain: Tea Party Members Had ‘Mandate’ to Oppose Tax and Spending Hikes

Sen. John McCain defended the Tea Party against Sen. John Kerry’s “tea party downgrade” remark on Meet the Press this morning.

“We could have reached an agreement a lot earlier, but the members of the House of Representatives had a mandate last November, and it was jobs and the economy and it was spending. And for them to then agree to tax increases and spending increases was obviously a repudiation of the mandate they felt they had from last November,” McCain said.

He said that much of the “dysfunction” in the current political system could be attributed to “the failure of the president of the United States to lead.”

“The fact is that the President never came forward with a plan,” McCain pointed out. “There was never a specific plan. There was always the so-called ‘leading from behind.’”

McCain defended the S & P downgrade, saying it would be a mistake to “shoot the messenger.” He said he hoped the downgrade would lead to the congressional super committee looking seriously at entitlement reform.

He also criticized the decision to decrease troop levels in Afghanistan, saying, “All our military leaders said it increases the risk. Why would we want to increase the risk to the lives of our men and women serving?” He said that the decrease had lead to a perception in Afghanistan and other nations of withdrawal, which was further damaging the Afghanistan mission.

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Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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