McCain: Selectively A Deregulator
The Los Angeles Times’ Noam Levy has an article this morning that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin probably wishes she had seen before she drew a blank when Katie Couric asked her for an example of Sen. John McCain pushing deregulation.
As it turns out, McCain may not be as “fundamentally a deregulator,” as he likes to claim.
The Arizona senator embraces his party’s popular critique of government, frequently invoking the deregulatory rhetoric that has helped Republicans win five of the last seven presidential elections.
But when a crisis or scandal makes headlines and sparks a public outcry, McCain is among the quickest in his party to call for robust government intervention…
It is unclear if a McCain administration would be led by the small-government crusader who claims President Reagan as his touchstone, or the energetic regulator who once advocated a new federal agency to license professional prizefighters.
Levy offers a laundry list of examples in which McCain has gone to bat for the consumer and pushed to increase the government hand in the marketplace.
He has repeatedly taken on the auto industry on safety issues, airlines and Big Tobacco. However, Levy also cited a number of cases in which the need for federal intervention was less well-defined. There were the high-profile hearings on steroid use in Major League Baseball, as well as:
McCain wanted to regulate when broadcasters could air violent programming and how boxing matches should be scored.
In one unusual bid to expand government authority, McCain introduced legislation in 2003 to control how broadcasters cover elections. Under McCain’s proposal, broadcasters would have been required to air two hours a week of candidate- or issue-centered programming and to offer political candidates the lowest advertising rates.
Clearly, there is a need for government regulation in many industries.
But, as his downright populist reaction to the current financial crisis has made clear, McCain’s preference for involving the state may be based less on principle than he would like the laissez-faire crowd to believe — and more on which way the political winds are blowing.