This is the month our national debt reaches $9.6 trillion. This is the month we learned our deficit next year is expected to be $482 billion.
This is also the month we learned from Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, that Iraq will have a budget surplus from higher oil revenues of as much as $50 billion this year alone, money not being spent to rebuild Iraq, although Americans are spending $10 billion in Iraq each month.
John McCain says Congress should be ashamed for going off on vacation without giving drivers a summer gas-tax holiday (although he himself has been in scarce attendance in the Senate this year) and wants to extend the Bush tax cuts at a cost of billions while continuing the war in Iraq. Barack Obama wants to give out $1,000 energy rebates by increasing taxes on energy companies. He would provide numerous other tax breaks to lower-income Americans, quadruple Early Head Start and provide child care for working families.
Do these guys not know basic math? Neither one has a clue from whence all the money would come.
Instead, this is the month that Barack Obama and John McCain talked about who cares more about giving oil companies windfalls and more coastal drilling rights along with the ones they’re sitting on and not exploring. There was a McCain ad that suggested Obama is just another celebrity such as Paris Hilton.
There was discussion in the Obama camp about whether McCain knows how long it takes to build a nuclear plant (he wants 45 new ones popping up like mushrooms). Obama suggested tapping the nation’s special oil reserves, which few economists say makes sense. Oh yes, and we heard endless speculation about which candidate is more elitist.
Also this month, Obama told Entertainment Weekly he’d choose to be Spiderman if he could be a superhero because Spiderman has "inner turmoil" and "gets knocked around a little bit." McCain chose Batman because Batman "does justice sometimes against insurmountable odds" and the winged wonder doesn’t take credit for his good deeds.
We hear from Obama that McCain is trying to pin voters’ attention on Barack’s "funny" name and the fact he doesn’t look like the presidents on U.S. money. McCain’s people fired back that Obama is trying to play the "race card" after first accusing Obama of being willing to lose a war to win a campaign.
It is to be hoped the country is on vacation and watching the Olympics. If not, people might be discouraged.
At the end of the month we will have the Democratic convention in Denver, which will either be totally unified or not unified until the end when Democrats will listen spellbound to Obama and pledge their fealty and get-out-the-vote efforts. Then we will switch our attention to St. Paul where Republicans will either be totally unified behind President Bush and McCain or not unified until McCain gives his acceptance speech and they vow to do all in their power to elect him.
After those tedious debates earlier this year, it’s hard to believe we are now looking forward to Sept. 26 for the first of three debates between Obama and McCain. The idea is that the summer follies will be over, and we’ll get down to issues.
In other words, we’re being told that, come September, Obama and McCain, will stop fooling around and get serious. They’ll be civil to each other and stop the name-calling. They’ll come up with specific plans to deal with our growing problems and ways to pay for them. They’ll ditch the platitudes and give us specifics. No more pandering.
Maybe they’ll talk about how the national debt is actually $53 trillion when Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement obligations are taken into account and how this country is headed toward truly frightening economic problems.
Maybe they’ll come in Spidey and Batman costumes.
(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)nationalpress.com.)
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