Tales from the Trail

New crop of ads has both Obama, McCain slinging mud

September 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – If mud is the currency of political campaigns, the U.S. presidential race is on sounder footing than Wall Street.
 
Just look at the latest crop of campaign ads.
 
The way they tell it, voters on Nov. 4 are either going to elect a president with crooked friends or one who rtx8tgc.jpgwouldn’t mind seeing them sick and poor in retirement.
 
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s new commercial portrays rival Barack Obama as being part of a corrupt Chicago political machine.
 
It revives questions about Obama’s links to political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who raised up to $250,000 for the Illinois senator’s previous political campaigns.
 
Rezko was convicted of fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering earlier this year. Obama has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with Rezko but has acknowledged an error of judgment in a land deal with the businessman.
 
McCain’s ad tries to tar Obama with his fundraiser’s misdeeds, and with his connections with Chicago politicians who have been investigated for various issues.
 
“His money man Tony Rezko. Client. Patron. Convicted,” the ad announcer intones. His political godfather Emil Jones. Under ethical cloud. His governor Rod Blagojevich. A legacy of federal and state investigations.”
 
“With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead,” the ad says.

The Illinois Democrat takes a few shots — and a few liberties — in two of his own new ads that try to raise voter fears about McCain.
 
One portrays the Arizona Republican as wanting to gamble away people’s Social Security in the stock market.
 
“A broken economy, failing banks, unstable markets, families struggling. To protect us in retirement, Social Security has never been more important,” the ad says.
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It notes that McCain has favored privatizing Social Security by letting people invest some of their Social Security retirement savings in the stock market. And it quotes him saying he campaigned for Bush’s plan to do that.
 
“Cutting benefits in half. Risking Social Security on the stock market,” the ad says. “The Bush-McCain privatization plan. Can you really afford more of the same?”
 
Sounds worrisome, but FactCheck.org dismisses the benefit cutting as false. It says no one now getting benefits or close to retirement would have seen any reduction in benefits under the plan McCain supported. 
 
In another ad, Obama says deregulation of the financial industry led to the current U.S. economic crisis.
 
It accuses McCain of being a backer of that deregulation and says he now wants to do the same with health care.

“McCain just published an article praising Wall Street deregulation, said he’d reduce oversight of the health insurance industry too ‘just as we have done over the last decade in banking,’” the ad says.
 
“Increasing costs and threatening coverage. A prescription for disaster. John McCain. A risk we just can’t afford to take.”
 
FactCheck.org says the deregulation claim is taken out of context. In fact, he was only calling for deregulation to enable the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines, FactCheck says. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit:  Reuters/Tim Shaffer (McCain speaks in Media, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 22) ; Reuters/Chris Keane (Obama at rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 21)

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

McCain thinks that calling for the firing of Cox, and his parroting of Obama”s plan is being proactive.

With international confidence hanging on a thread last week, both candidates should have had the restraint with their objections and allow Bernanke and Paulson to come out with ONE VOICE from America. Barack Obama, despite having long proposed a plan to avoid this crisis and take us out through commonsense regulation, kept mum so that Paulson and Bernanke could assuage frayed nerves internationally. On the side you have McCain mouthing off, creating all sorts of distractions and problems for the administration. What John McCain did not understand about his actions was that if confidence continued to spiral as a result of his impulsive words, the 700 billion bailout package would not even be enough to solve the problem. it”s a good thing he now finally recognizes the wisdom of Obama”s economic philosophy, but his pattern of being Johnny come lately on a range of issues that have been the hallmarks of Obama”s campaign is becoming a pattern. However, McCain”s impulsive and unpresidential behavior at a time of national crisis raises questions about his commitment to national interest above his own political interests. Now he comes upto say Obama has no plan? So he put the country at risk to score political points last week with his nonsense, and now is trying to make Obama look bad for doing the right thing? ABSURD.

Posted by andyt | Report as abusive
 

I think that Obama brought the wrath of negative ads on himself when he attacked Mccain about the very things he said were over the top and vicious. Obama is right in saying that he is from chicago dirty politics and I personally do not like the direction this country is going in and Bush and his clan should all go to jail along with this give Bush everything he asks for democratic congress but Obama is untrustworthy and a liar saying that he would run a different type of campaign and fooling the people with his holier than thou hope slogan that was all a political ploy. I think that he is unqualified to president and is the more dangerous of the two candidates.

Posted by Jennifer | Report as abusive
 

Actually, Obama’s estimation that about half of the benefits would be cut is not far off, with regards to SS disability benefits, according to the website http://www.socsec.org/publications.asp?p ubid=503#9

“In the principal proposals put forward by the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the reduction in disability benefits was draconian, with cuts ranging from 19 percent to 47.5 percent after the year 2030. Economists Peter A. Diamond (MIT) and Peter R. Orszag (Brookings) have noted that the disabled would have limited ability to mitigate the effects of these benefit reductions by securing income from individual accounts. One reason is that their individual accounts often would be meager, since those who become disabled before retirement age may have relatively few years of work during which they could make contributions to their accounts….”

Other benefits would decrease as well, because of the cost of establishing these accounts:

“The government would need to establish and track many small accounts, perhaps as many accounts as there are taxpaying workers-147 million in 1997. Francis X. Cavanaugh, who has supervised the thrift savings program for federal employees, has argued that the costs of administering so many small accounts would overwhelm any benefits to be gained from the stock market. …The plan would result in high transition costs, with the midline estimates to be in the vicinity of over $2 trillion over 10 years. For workers, privatization would mean smaller social security checks…

“Privatizing Social Security will escalate federal deficits and debt significantly while increasing the likelihood that national savings will decline-all of which could reduce long-term economic growth and the size of the economic pie available to pay for the retirement of the baby boom generation.”

Posted by Research | Report as abusive
 

Also from the same website, other details are clarified.

http://www.socsec.org/publications.asp?p ubid=503#9

The way social security works is that $4 out of every $5 the social security tax that comes out of your payroll goes immediately to current beneficiaries, and the remaining $1 goes to buy US T Bills held in the Social Security Trust Fund.

With privatization, the benefits would immediately be cut for current Social Security recipients. This is because every dollar that gets privatized is one dollar less for current recipients and for the Trust Fund. The Social Security Trust Fund will therefore get depleted sooner.

When it runs out, either everyone’s benefits will get cut, or their taxes will need to be raised to keep Social Security alive, or Social Security will die.

Being worried about this will lead more and more people to divert more and more of their Social Security to private accounts so as not to have to depend on the Trust Fund. Therefore more of their money will be subject to the vagaries of the stock market. It it crashes, these folks will be out of luck.

Posted by Research | Report as abusive
 

It is amusing how the narrator in both advertisements sound like the same person.

And with the exact same sentence tagged on both adverts.

Posted by Black and White | Report as abusive
 

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