McCain Controls Bailout’s Fate?

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports that, if  John McCain doesn’t vote for the Bush administration’s $700 billion economic bailout plan, it won’t pass.

“If McCain doesn’t come out for this, it’s over,” a Top House Republican tells ABC News.

A Democratic leadership source says that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has been told that Democratic votes will not be there if McCain votes no — that there is no deal if McCain doesn’t go along.

McCain, taking questions from the traveling media today for the first time in 40 days, said he doesn’t yet know how he will vote on the bailout.  But when he was asked by ABC News’ Ron Claiborne what he would do if the fate of the bill was in his hands, he said Senate Democrats should not use his vote as the determining factor on the success of the bill.

“This issue should be – and their vote should be determined in how we can resolve this crisis and get America going again,” McCain said. “This is a huge crisis. We know, in the words of many  experts and mine, this is the greatest financial crisis since World War II. So to somehow, for the Democrats to say that their vote is going to be gauged on my vote frankly doesn’t do them a great deal of credit. “Their first and only priority should be making sure this economy recovers and get back on our feet again,” McCain said.

But, of course, Stephanopoulous is right.  If McCain doesn’t go along with the bill, his fellow Republicans are not going to go against the party nominee for president on the most crucial issue facing the country.

And Democrats certainly aren’t going to go out on a limb without political cover and give McCain a chance to hang the “Socialist” anchor around them the next six weeks.  Indeed, Nancy Pelosi has said as much.

So, in essence, McCain gets to play President for a Day, controlling the fate of what is arguably the most significant domestic policy decision during his political lifetime.  It’ll be interesting, indeed, to see what he does with the opportunity.  And, certainly, people will be watching.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    It’ll be interesting, indeed, to see what he does with the opportunity. And, certainly, people will be watching.

    It’s likely he’ll take his typical cowardly route and not show up to vote.

  2. sam says:

    If McCain doesn’t go along with the bill, his fellow Republicans are not going to go against the party nominee for president on the most crucial issue facing the country.

    And Democrats certainly aren’t going to go out on a limb without political cover and give McCain a chance to hang the “Socialist” anchor around them the next six weeks.

    This is probably the most signal instance of what we may call the “Joyner Principle”: Political campaigns are hostage to external events. What a dilemma, huh? If he votes for the bailout, he gets the Karl Marx Award for Outstanding Service; if he votes against the bailout, he gets the Herbert Hoover Award for Outstanding Service.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    The last thing Democrats want is for McCain to drop support, Obama to maintain support, the bailout to pass, be ineffective, and labelled the “Bush-Obama” bill.

  4. Gee, I must have missed an election. I thought the democrats took control of congress in 2006. Why isn’t Stephanopoulous talking about the way Obama is going to vote? Since there are more of the democrats than republicans, then wouldn’t the same logic follow of the democrats not leaving their candidate to stand alone in his vote have a bigger impact.

  5. sam says:

    Why isn’t Stephanopoulous talking about the way Obama is going to vote

    Maybe because, you know, McCain is the Republican candidate for president and the plan is being pushed by a Republican administration. And, according to the report in JJ’s post, “If McCain doesn’t come out for this, it’s over,” a Top House Republican tells ABC News.
    Obama’s vote is not the lynchpin of success or failure of the bailout bill.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Prisoner’s Dilemma

  7. Michael says:

    Gee, I must have missed an election. I thought the democrats took control of congress in 2006. Why isn’t Stephanopoulous talking about the way Obama is going to vote?

    Because it’s a liberal proposition, not a conservative one. The way Obama votes on this won’t sway congressional conservatives, but the way McCain votes may sway congressional liberals.

    You can’t get more liberal than $700 billion in government spending, the only direction things can go is (fiscal) conservative, and the only one of the candidates who will be influential in that is John McCain. Is it unfair? Perhaps, but it’s reality, and you can either bitch about it or deal with it, because you’re not gonna change it.

  8. Sam,

    Let me refer you to a document you don’t seem to be familiar with.

    Article I

    Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

    Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

    Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

    Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

    The fact that the democratic congress is inept and incompetent doesn’t change their constitutional duties. If Obama or any other democrat has the brains or the balls to propose an alternative plan, have at it. But this legislation is for congress to pass or not pass. Obama is the candidate for the party in power in congress. So by the very same logic, if Obama says no and the democrats stick with him as Stephie proposes the GOP would stick with McCain as their candidate, then there is no way to get a majority of votes in either house. If McCain votes yes and all the GOP with hims and Obama votes no and all the democrats with him, the bill dies. Thus it would seem that the fate of the bill, by Stephies logic, lies with Obama not McCain.

    But given Stephies political background, it isn’t surprising he can’t follow his logic that far.

  9. McGehee says:

    Obama’s vote is not the lynchpin of success or failure of

    …anything.

  10. Michael says:

    yetanotherjohn,
    The general opinion is against Paulson’s proposal, so as I said there isn’t much Obama can do to increase opposition. For that matter, there isn’t much McCain can do to increase opposition to the bill. But McCain can increase support for it, while Obama, even if he votes for it, won’t bring many new supporters with him.

    Again, it’s not about how many people of each party there are, it’s about how many people against the proposal can be swayed by either candidate.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    44% constitutes “general opinion”?

  12. Michael says:

    44% constitutes “general opinion”?

    I was referring to opinion in congress, which is who will be voting on this. Now I could be wrong on that too, but just from what I hear coming from the capital, opinion seems to be mostly against the Paulson proposal (but not necessarily against a bailout itself).

  13. Michael,

    So you are saying that the democrats in congress have such a low opinion of Obama and his judgement that if Obama voted for the plan, none of them would tag along? That would seem to show more sense than congress is usually won’t to have.

  14. Michael says:

    So you are saying that the democrats in congress have such a low opinion of Obama and his judgement that if Obama voted for the plan, none of them would tag along? That would seem to show more sense than congress is usually won’t to have.

    Yeah, sure YAJ, you can take it that way if it makes you feel better.

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    Hopefully he’ll kill it, but my guess is that he’ll vote for it. McCain loves big government stuff like this.

  16. tom p says:

    Gee, I must have missed an election. I thought the democrats took control of congress in 2006. Why isn’t Stephanopoulous talking about the way Obama is going to vote?

    Because it’s a liberal proposition, not a conservative one. The way Obama votes on this won’t sway congressional conservatives, but the way McCain votes may sway congressional liberals.

    You can’t get more liberal than $700 billion in government spending, the only direction things can go is (fiscal) conservative, and the only one of the candidates who will be influential in that is John McCain. Is it unfair? Perhaps, but it’s reality, and you can either bitch about it or deal with it, because you’re not gonna change it.

    Posted by Michael | September 24, 2008 | 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow… MIchael, well said. Does anybody else wonder about how schizophrenic this election has gotten?

    Consider: BO’s plan has a smaller deficit than JM’s.

    SAY WHAT????

    Guys, I am a deficit hawk with a liberal bent…. most of you are are deficit hawks with conservative bents… and what do we argue(discuss) about?

    WHETHER JM OR BO HAS CONTROL OVER THE FATE OF A $700 BILION DOLLAR BAILOUT AND WHY?????

    Look, we may well disagree about what our priorities should be, but we all seem to agree that SOMEBODY HAS TO PAY FOR IT!

    Maybe we should all stop, take a deep breath, and consider whether this is a good thing? And if so, How? What are the downsides of it etc?

    As far as I can tell, all of the promises of the candidates are long gone. BO’s national health care? Up in smoke. JM’s continuation of the Bush tax cuts? Get real.

    We gotta pay for this shit. NOW.