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Owner of 13 Cars, McCain Aims to Block Cash for Clunkers

August 2, 2009

Moments after the House passed a $2 billion extension to the wildly popular "cash for clunkers" program, John McCain in a double-irony announced he would oppose the bill in the Senate. Ironic, it turns out, not merely because the Arizona Senator has 13 cars and so could benefit even as he personally stimulates the economy by updating his fleet. Given his campaign 2008 tax proposals that would have delivered millions of dollars to himself and beer heiress wife Cindy, McCain's roadblock on cash for clunkers is the exception that proves the rule.
On Sunday, The Hill reported that Jim Demint (R-SC) will join McCain in trying to filibuster additional funding for the program. For his part, McCain on Friday defended his principles and his consistency on the issue:

A spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told FOX News that he rival will object to the bill next week, even mounting a filibuster.
"I not only wouldn't vote for the extra $2 billion, I was opposed to the initial billion," McCain told FOX News Radio.

In this instance, McCain's stand against legislation which could benefit him personally is laudable. After all, in addition to their estimated $100 million fortune, private jet, 8 homes, $136,000 to pay household employees, Cindy and John McCain own 13 cars. (That said, not all are eligible for the clunkers rebate, including Cindy's Lexus bearing the license plate MS BUD.) It's no wonder that, as McCain explained during the '08 race, "I define rich in other ways besides income."
Still, John McCain's willingness to pass up some quick cash for his cars pales in comparison to the multi-million dollar windfall he promised himself during the 2008 campaign.
In March 2008, the Center for American Progress analyzed Republican presidential nominee's John McCain's tax proposals. The conclusion? The $2 trillion budget-busting plan would have been radically more regressive than even that of President Bush, delivering 58% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1% of American taxpayers. McCain's born-again support for the Bush tax cuts had one additional bonus for Mr. Straight Talk: the McCains would save an estimated $373,000 a year
The McCains' bonanza hardly would have ended there.
As both the financial crisis and his slump in the polls deepened last fall, John McCain in October proposed slashing capital gains taxes (a halving from 15% to 7.5%). Again, the gains from his scheme would have gone overwhelmingly to the richest Americans (almost 60% of its benefits to families earning over $1 million a year), including his wife:

The McCains made $746,395 in capitals gains last year. A new analysis by Michael Ettlinger, Vice President for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reveals that McCain's capital gains cut would have reduced the McCains' taxes by $55,980 in 2007.

And those winnings would have been nothing next to what Cindy McCain would have banked for tax year 2008. That's when Cindy McCain was set to earn a staggering multi-million dollar pay-day from the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian beverage giant, In Bev.
As the Wall Street Journal reported in July 2008, Mrs. McCain runs the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the nation, and owns between $2.5 and $5 million in the company's stock. Amazingly, while Missouri's politicians of both parties lined up to try to block the sale, John McCain held a fundraiser in the Show Me State even as the In Bev deal was being finalized.
Mercifully, Americans in November voted against the massive transfer from the U.S. Treasury to the McCains' bank accounts. As for John McCain, he doesn't need a new card in his new role as "one of the lead critics of Obamanomics." Meanwhile at the White House, President Obama toasted Sgt. James Crowley and Professor Henry Louis Gates with a bottle of Bud Light.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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