The Corner

Re: re: McCain the Regulator

My first reaction on reading Ramesh’s post about the Shear article was to wonder how anyone could think a guy who not only supported Sarbanes-Oxley but once talked about federal oversight of professional baseball (I wrote about that here several years ago) could be thought to have a generalized hostility to regulation.  In any event, here’s what the Club for Growth says about McCain on regulation (I’m going to delete the footnotes, but you can find the whole report here):

At first glance, John McCain’s record on regulation appears generally positive, including a vote against a minimum wage increase in 2005; a vote against the 2003 Energy Bill; and a vote against the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. A deeper look at Senator McCain’s record, however, reveals a number of votes and bills that reflect much less favorably on his commitment to free market principles and his claim to being an economic conservative.

Most egregious is Senator McCain’s leadership role in two bills that would have drastically restricted free enterprise. The first was the Patients’ Bill of Rights, which he sponsored with Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and former trial lawyer John Edwards (D-NC). The bill allowed the government to impose a set of onerous mandates on insurance coverage instead of allowing individuals to make their own decisions about healthcare plans in the marketplace.

Two years later, the Arizona maverick took a another swing at the free market with the Climate Stewardship Act, a bill he sponsored with Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to require greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 2000 levels by the year 2010. This intrusive bill was projected to cost $76 billion annually by 2025, with huge increases in the cost of electricity and gasoline according to the Department of Energy.

Unfortunately, these two bills do not close the book on Senator McCain’s regulatory indiscretions. Over the years he has voted for a number of other big-government bills. These include:

  • Voted for an amendment that would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to set prices on prescription drugs under Medicare
  • Voted against a bill that would prohibit an increase in CAFE standards
  • Voted for an amendment that would prohibit oil drilling in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska
  • Voted (along with all of his Senate colleagues) in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, an overreaction to corporate malfeasance that imposed heavy financial burdens on companies

Much like his record on taxes, these terrible votes cast a dark shadow on Senator McCain’s positive votes. His anti-growth votes are exacerbated by his characteristic vociferousness in cases like the Patients’ Bill of Rights and the Climate Stewardship Act. His occasional eagerness to support and encourage increased government regulation suggests a troublesome mistrust of the free market.


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