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With Bailout Vote, McCain Voted for Earmarks

By Michael D. Shear
Sen. John McCain claims to be an absolutist on earmarks. He repeatedly vows to veto every bill -- every one! -- that comes to his desk with a pork-barrel project attached. Under repeated questioning by this reporter over the past 19 months, McCain has said he would never, ever sign a bill that had an earmark.

"I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks," he said in a speech in April.

At the Republican National Convention, he put it this way: 'The first big-spending, pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it. I will make them famous, and you will know their names. You will know their names."

It got huge applause.

But on Wednesday -- in his first vote in months -- McCain voted for earmarks.

In an attempt to woo recalcitrant House Republicans to vote for the $700 billion economic bailout bill, senators loaded it up with earmarks, including $2 million in tax breaks for companies that make wooden arrows for children and millions for U.S. wool producers and auto racetrack owners.

McCain had warned against such a thing happening. In a speech in Michigan before the vote, he said: "It is completely unacceptable for any kind of earmarks to be included in this bill. It would be outrageous for legislators and lobbyists to pack this rescue plan with
taxpayer money for favored companies. This simply cannot happen."

It did. And he voted for it anyway.

McCain officials defend the vote, saying the overall purpose of the bill was worth it despite the earmarks, which they said he still opposes.

"In a national emergency, John McCain was willing to support a legislative compromise that could help protect hardworking families from losing their homes and savings despite the bill's regrettable inclusion of earmarks," spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "However, their addition serves as a perfect example of why Washington is broken, why we need new leadership and why we need John McCain's record of fighting wasteful spending."

But the decision to vote for the earmark-laden package undermines one of McCain's attacks against Sen. Barack Obama. McCain has repeatedly criticized Obama's vote on behalf of an earmark-laden energy bill that included tax breaks for oil companies at the same time it provided record investment for alternative energy.

Obama said that on balance, the bill was good. McCain -- who voted against the bill -- has hammered him for this compromise. McCain's "on balance" decision to support the bailout bill might make that attack harder in the future.

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 3, 2008; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  Earmarks , Economy , John McCain , analysis  
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Could McCain have moved ahead of Obama in the polls had he stood up and campaigned against the bailout because of the earmarks?


Posted by: usadblake | October 5, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

John McCain has never said "no compromise on earmarks, even if they're necessary to get an important bill passed." He has, in fact, voted for such bills in the past pointing out the earmark abuse.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | October 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

YES HE DID.....but no one probably told him.
He thought he was voting on the OLDER version. John McCain lost this election the moment he started listening to his campaign Gurus. Lost is the John McCain who could bond with the people. What we have now is a nervous, erratic old man. I could either feel sorry for him, or fell sorry for my country. I will vote for Obama which is my first vote for a Democratic nominee ever.

Posted by: mrtutto | October 4, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The truth is, that we can not depended in our government to stand for our constitution , our country or the economic and welfare of the American people; they pass this Bill to bail-out wall Street, they voted to protect the financial institutions not the average American worker; the American working class for years have suffer the consequences of poor governance and policies that took their jobs and decreased their wages and make them economic slaves; the congress justified their betrayal and said that they voted for the bail-out because they are concern about the lost of jobs and our economic meltdown, but they supported illegal immigration, open border policies and amnesty to illegal aliens, Barack Obama said that he will not enforce our immigration laws and will not send the illegal aliens back home. They supported Free Trade that cost millions of jobs, destroy our manufacturing base and created this economic crisis; now the fix will do nothing for the American people will worse the problem. Rep. Peter Defazio and Rep. Marcy Kaptur have a plan to rescue American from this crisis, but no one listen to them because the financial system will not get rich at the expenses of We the people. McCain and Obama will say and do no any thing to get the peoples votes,Sorry but no one of them are qualified to be our President.

Posted by: voteforamerica | October 4, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please tell me how to find out who sponsored the additional earmarks for the bailout bill?

Posted by: mayzielee | October 4, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

McCain's 'campaign suspension' was an example of his grandstanding, and is a sign of how 'all over the place' this guy is. He pulls out of Michigan...seems that Sen. Mccain is very much into giving up when things get tough. Then there's the Sarah publicity stunt that's backfiring on him: Well, looky thar.... Gosh golly gee, Sarah got right in thar and did a whizbang job on that thar betcha she sure did! *wink* Right thar's what we're needing in the ol' White House, doncha know! "Hey Putin-y gosh darn good ta see ya! Yer lookin' cute as can be *wink* take a load off 'n' sit a spell!" *wink* [Well, bless Sarah's heart for providing a bunch of new material for Ms. Fey and SNL. Gotta love it, by gosh!] *wink* Sarah was dropped into the campaign for her entertainment value...Sarah is nothing if not entertaining. Forget the White House, seriously...give Sarah her own comedy show. We'd all watch! You betcha! *wink*

Posted by: hungry4it | October 3, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

See Out Takes from Biden and Palin practice Debates, You can also Give FeedBack on how you think Sarah Palin did in the Debate, See what the national poll says about what others think,

Posted by: pastor123 | October 3, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Reply to:
Posted by: USA3 |
lets talk obama,
upon election to the senate,
his wife recieved a promotion
with a 110% pay increase,
and the hospital recieved
a 1 million plus earmark.
his 1.2 million dollar mansion,
cost to senator obama 900,000.
Tony Rezko's wife purchased the lot
next to the property for ???
35K above market value.
how crooked does this guy have to be,
before the media will stop pretending
to look the other way?
I look forward to the media OUTRAGE
claiming this crooked freshman senator
was somehow not elected because he is
black. he is Crooked, highly partisan,
unethical, decietful.
puppet of the LEFT!


McCain is one of the Keating Five...Look it up and get back to me on that. Oh yeah, one more thing....checkmate :)

Posted by: dawizard98 | October 3, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Now that the "tribute" has been paid, will Congress hold hearings to find out how this REALLY happened?

Was this "crisis" engineered? Was in an outgrowth of purposeful acts and under-the-radar policies?

How can Congress think it's come up with a solution when it's never inquired as to the real CAUSE?

Could it be that lenders were ORDERED by government agencies to offer EASY CREDIT to "targeted" citizens?

And is there now a "disinformation campaign" underway to blame naive Democrats for what may have been a prime example of hard-right social engineering?

Could "extra-judicial targeting" of social or political "undesirables" be a root cause of the mortgage meltdown which led to the wider crisis?



Posted by: scrivener50 | October 3, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

In September of 1978, a Boeing 727 collided with a Cessna private plane over Los Angeles, destroying the Cessna instantly, and causing the right wing of the 727 to explode. As I recall, the 727 took over 20 seconds to hit the ground, even though most of the plane and the fuselage with the passengers and crew was fully intact as it headed straight down. I wondered at the time what that must have felt like, what a long time 20 seconds must have been for those on board.

As I peruse the various headlines on Google today: massive job losses, New York $1.2-Billion in the hole, the State of California flat broke, and needs $2-Billion right away, Citibank, Wachovia and Wells-Fargo threatening to sue each other, John McCain explaining why "never voting for earmarks" actually means "almost never", and Barack Obama castigating McCain for all our economic woes, after voting to throw $700-Billion in borrowed public funds into the hands of the people on Wall Street who actually planted the monetary explosives that are going off around us, and feeding a conflagration with no end in sight...

Well, you get my point.

Posted by: thomas777 | October 3, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

We see who the real stars of this election are. Participate in a national poll give your oppinion about the VP debate.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 3, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I think we should look past the Presidential candidates and make it personal against any person who added any pork to this bail out plan. Even a dumb GA redneck knows that attaching any pork to this bill would really piss off the American people who are going to end up footing this bill for the rest of thier lives.

Posted by: tillertime | October 3, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Shill....errr, I mean Shear:

In last week's debate, Barack Obama claimed as well to have 'stopped all earmarks until we can review this process'....and then voted for today's bill anyway.

So, your point in casting blame on only one side of the aisle would be........?????

Posted by: dbw1 | October 3, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

This bill is not as good as the one on Monday but it is better than nothing. Being out of touch is not restricted to McCain, it is the whole Republican Party. They can not be trusted when the economy is bad.

Harry Truman had it right. If you want to live like a Republican, you vote Democratic. That is not always true but it is this year.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 3, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

It's my understanding that earmarks make budget appropriations go to specific projects designated by the earmark, otherwise the department the funds are budgeted to decides how to use the funds. Given the last 7 years of blantent bias the Bush administration has shown, thank God for earmarks,lest we'd all be screwed.

Posted by: dboston | October 3, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I trust McCain will veto entire bills with earmarks.

Posted by: JakeD | October 3, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse


We get it. You don't like Obama. Point made. Now, let's talk about the issue of this article. That issue is for all of McCain's talk he proves that he too cannot always back up what he says with his action. No different than any other politician. No different that Obama, or Clinton, or Bush (Sr. and Jr.), or anyone else. Get real already.


Posted by: koku_jin78 | October 3, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

picking palin greatly damaged my opinion of mccain, but his recent moves have irreversably destroyed it. the intellectual underpinning of his campaign is in shambles. especially on matters economic, he has no position that he hasn't contradicted completely. the logic of his argument is collapsing in on itself. it is an intellectual black hole.

Posted by: phosgene | October 3, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

This goes to show you that the Republicans will do anything and say anything to get elected. How "maveric" does McCain look now. He claims to be a leader, but looks more like one of the sheep. I fail to see how this bill will "protect hardworking families from losing their homes and savings" as the Republican spinmeister suggests, unless he is talking about the multiple homes that some of these criminally inept CEOs have.

Posted by: AQBan | October 3, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

In his quest for the golden ring of the presidency, John McCain has lost all my respect.

From his extremely poor choice of Palin to his ricocheting stance on substantive issues (sometimes within hours of each other), he is unfit to hold the office he covets.

He is beginning to remind me of Gollum in 'Lord of the Rings.'

Posted by: CaptainJohn2525 | October 3, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

USA3, with your "Heil Barack," you have invoked Hitler in an argument. By the accepted rules of internet discourse, you automatically lose.

Thanks for playing.

Posted by: munchie2 | October 3, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Since when has being right or wrong or inconsistent had anything to do with the McCain campaign machine?

Posted by: Rudesan | October 3, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

You can put lipstick on John McCain, but he'd still be a lying pig.

Posted by: khoreia | October 3, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The Germans knows a talented politician
when they hear one,
Heil Barack'

Posted by: USA3 | October 3, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I gather that JakeD is suggesting, obliquely, that a Senator must choose whether to support the whole package or not, while the President can simply "veto earmarks" and still sign into law the underlying bill absent the earmarks. This is wrong. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution does not permit the President to exercise a line-item veto. The president must make his decision based on the entirety of the bill presented to him--so if he doesn't like the earmark amendment, he must either reject the whole bill, or hold his nose and accept the earmarks as the necessary cost of accomplishing the legislation's broader purpose. So the President's choice is just the same as the choice facing individual Senators.

McCain knows this, and has previously promised to veto bills containing earmarks (not just to veto the earmarks themselves, which is impossible). His stance was "no compromise on earmarks, even if they're necessary to get an important bill passed." Now, he's saying that compromise is necessary because the importance of the underlying bill outweighs the undesirability of the earmarks. This may be the right judgment (it is Obama's judgment too), but it is clearly inconsistent with his past claim that he will never compromise on earmarks.

Posted by: SBS1 | October 3, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, gee! John is such a pragmatist! I admire him ever so much more now! Whatta 4 years it's gonna be!

Posted by: boesc | October 3, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"Hey Sweetie"
Posted by: USA3 | October 3, 2008 2:36 PM
All the things you mentioned in your post in fact Obama DID get nailed for and have played themselves out. Sorry you don't like the result but the Repubs overplayed their hand, it is all old news.

And BTW: What does anything you mentioned have to do with McCain flip-flopping on earmarks, I mean, this has been a very big campaign rallying cry for him and the church lady, wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

This is yet another reason to question McSame's judgment.

I've got whiplash from all of his flip-flops.

Posted by: spotfoul | October 3, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

USA3 Re: "Let's talk Obama"

The distinction is that Obama is not the one riding the white horse against earmarks, McCain is, yet his first vote in over 5 months in the Senate was to support a bill laden with earmarks.

That is the issue.

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Sweetie'

If your husband called a co worker
you would cut his tongue off,
but this sexist candidate can
say anything
without press scrutiny.
I say Good Damn The American Press!!!
For the first time in my adult life
I am proud to be an american.
Reparations do not go far enough...
Georgia should show restraint""""
I plan on visiting all 57 states,
Did you guys check out my new
president obama seal? pretty sweet huh?

Posted by: USA3 | October 3, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

So, let me see - the difference between Article I and Article II - oh, oh, I know this one - I do, I do! So, Jake, what your saying is that it's OK if Senator McCain VOTES for a bill with earmarks, that's not violating his principles, but if he runs for president and wins, in say 2012, then he will VETO any bills with earmarks, because that's how he rolls. He's a maverick even within his own self.

Sounds pretty much like a distinction without a difference.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | October 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I love the way when a Rublikan't gets cornered rather than address the issue or question they try to blame-shift and say something like "Let's look at Obama...."

What ever happened to the party of personal responsibility?

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Go get jobs

Posted by: J_thinks | October 3, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"When he's President, he will veto earmarks."
So are you saying to just trust him now?

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Too funny, I guess he will make himself famous after railing on about earmarks the FIRST thing he does is vote for 'em.

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

lets talk obama,
upon election to the senate,
his wife recieved a promotion
with a 110% pay increase,
and the hospital recieved
a 1 million plus earmark.
his 1.2 million dollar mansion,
cost to senator obama 900,000.
Tony Rezko's wife purchased the lot
next to the property for ???
35K above market value.
how crooked does this guy have to be,
before the media will stop pretending
to look the other way?
I look forward to the media OUTRAGE
claiming this crooked freshman senator
was somehow not elected because he is
black. he is Crooked, highly partisan,
unethical, decietful.
puppet of the LEFT!

Posted by: USA3 | October 3, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

You can put lipstick on a liar... i think we all know how the saying ends...

Posted by: maq1 | October 3, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

MCCain is not trustworthy as he already has broken his word! Earmarks? Some of them are necessary for this country to go forward but heck tax breaks for Toys, Wool ( who can wear wool?) and Rum? Ridiculous! We are again being taken to the cleaners. Majority of these earmarks were by GOP Senators from Oregon!

Posted by: SpotlessCrab | October 3, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse


McCain: Always the Maverick, Never the Leader.

Posted by: joneshn | October 3, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Thank god we bailed out the wooden arrow, wool and Virgin Islands Rum and race track industries.

Now I can go to the races, get good and liquored-up and shoot wooden arrows at the cars all the while keeping warm in my comfy (but itchy) wool sweater.

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, doesn't understand the difference between "straight talk" and hypocrisy.

In the spirit of Sarah Palin:

Posted by: AJ2008 | October 3, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Another flop from the "maverick".

I think McSane should get a check up to make sure he is still "on balance".

Posted by: thor2 | October 3, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that Sarah Palin could not convince her one (1) house member to vote for this legislation, particularly when I heard her say in the debate last night that both she and Senator McCain supported the bill.

Posted by: Wiliey | October 3, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"You don't understand the difference between Art. I and Art. II?

Posted by: JakeD "
Except McCain is engaging in abstract de-constructionism ;-)

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Jake, you obviously didn't understand the argument. The problem is not that he voted for the bill, it's that he has launched phony attacks on Obama for using the same principle that McCain just did in voting for it.

Posted by: bsand1 | October 3, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"With Bailout Vote, McCain Voted for Earmarks"
Geez, kick a guy when he is down.

How about every voter just make your choice this election, it will be easy, just vote out the incumbent for what they have done to us.

All this time and they couldn't help the little guy.

Vote out the incumbents on election day.

THAT would be true bi-partisanship.

Posted by: JRM2 | October 3, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

So much for another McCain principle. As President, he will not sign bills with earmarks, but as senator, he will. McCain also misspoke in a major way yesterday without self-correction. McCain has proved over and over that he knows not what he says. McCain's statements and actions are proving to be eratic and distrubing. I cannot imagine McCain taking that 3 a.m. telephone call. McCain's actions during the past two weeks along with his explanations should give all of us something to think about.

Posted by: EarlC | October 3, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Thats right, McCain set aside partisonship to get this emergency bill passed. When he's President, he will veto earmarks. You don't understand the difference between Art. I and Art. II?

Posted by: JakeD | October 3, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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