Today, John McCain is meeting with Latino leaders in Illinois, and La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language daily, published an exclusive interview with the Republican candidate where he spoke about his position on various issues of importance to the Latino community.
While John McCain paints himself as a friend of the Latino community, the facts point otherwise. Read below to see how McCain really measures up for Latinos on the issues that matter to them:
Hispanics consistently rate education as a top priority, and with good reason: Latinos are less likely than their African-American and white peers to participate in early-childhood education programs. Recent estimates suggests that only 52 percent of Hispanic students graduate on time from high school and only 11 percent of adult Latinos in the United States have a college education compared with 25 percent of the total adult population.
McCain’s record on education:
- John McCain consistently voted against funding for Head Start. Furthermore, his plan for a spending freeze would cut funding for Head Start by more than $968 million. The massive deficits his tax plan would rack up could increase pressure for across-the-board cuts that would slash Head Start’s budget by an additional $1.6 billion and drop more than 170,000 children from the rolls.
- McCain has consistently voted against resources for higher teacher quality, Hispanic drop-out prevention, and afterschool programs that improve student performance.
- He has also consistently undermined effective efforts at accountability by refusing to fully fund No Child Left Behind—a law that has led to progress in improving achievement for all students, particularly low-income and minority children.
- John McCain voted with the Bush administration to cut the value of Pell Grants and has consistently voted against expanding access to the grants or increasing their value.
Our immigration system is broken; there are 12 million people with undocumented status in the United States—among them 65,000 who came here as very young children.
McCain’s true record on immigration:
- John McCain was the original cosponsor of legislation that would have provided legalization for the undocumented, but he has since changed positions.
- During a January 30 GOP presidential debate, McCain stated that he “would not” vote for his own comprehensive immigration bill if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
- McCain skipped the vote for, and later denounced, a popular bill known as the DREAM act which would have provided legal status and a path to citizenship for young people who came to the U.S. when they were children.
- McCain now says that the U.S. must secure borders before undocumented immigrants are dealt with, thereby discarding the “comprehensive” from his immigration position.
Latinos are being disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. According to the most recent Hispanic Pew survey, the unemployment rate for Latinos reached 7.3 percent—much higher than for the general population. Among immigrants, it is even higher: 8.3 percent. On the housing front, a recent report by the Center for American Progress shows that nearly 60 percent of Hispanics were victims of predatory lending and had high-cost home-purchase loans (as opposed to only 18 percent for whites). The projected number of foreclosures on 2005 subprime loans for Latinos is nearly 111,000. Latinos are also being squeezed by gas prices as U.S. drivers are paying record prices to fill their tanks.
McCain’s plan for the economy:
- John McCain opposes aggressive steps to help families caught in the housing crisis. In fact, he has said that “…it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers," when we know that the housing crisis was partly created by “the failure of regulators and the Bush administration to heed the warning signs about the extent of the subprime housing crisis.”
- Sen. McCain’s proposal to help borrowers facing foreclosures excludes those who were victims of predatory lending from participating. Eligibility criteria requires that borrowers were creditworthy at the time the original loan was made, yet many of those steered to high-risk mortgages were not “creditworthy” for a loan of that size and terms.
- McCain’s tax plan gives little to the middle class; in fact his tax plans offers substantial benefits to wealthy Americans. An analysis by the Washington-based, nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that for people with incomes between $66,354 and $111,645, McCain’s proposals would cut their taxes by around $300. But for Americans with incomes above $603,402, McCain would cut taxes by $45,000.
- McCain’s plan for suspending the gas tax will do little to reduce prices and stimulate the economy in the long run. In fact, his plan "…would have devastating impacts upon the federal-aid highway and transit programs, sharply reducing funding available to states and jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide. Such a move would be short-sighted and damaging to our nation’s economy, while providing little relief to America’s drivers."
Latinos represent the group with the highest uninsurance rates in the country. Nearly a third of the U.S. Latino population is without health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent analysis of the 2000 Census, 34 percent of Hispanics are uninsured, compared with 22 percent of African Americans, 20 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 12 percent of whites. More than 3 million Hispanic children are uninsured, making up nearly 40 percent of all uninsured children.
McCain’s position on health care:
- John McCain is firmly opposed to a universal healthcare system.
- John McCain voted against furthering the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal-state partnership building off of Medicaid that provides health coverage for children of low- and moderate-income families who are often working but do not have the financial resources to purchase private insurance.
- McCain’s plan would not guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
- McCain’s plan would leave many of the 158 million Americans who get health care through their jobs at risk of losing coverage.
War in Iraq:
Hispanics have generally expressed a more negative view toward the war compared with the rest of the population. The latest Hispanic Pew Center survey, however, shows an even stronger opposition on the part of Latinos, especially when it comes to keeping troops in Iraq. There are 1.1 million Hispanic veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and still two out of every three Latinos now believe that U.S. troops should be brought home from Iraq as soon as possible. Only one in four think the U.S. made the right decision in using military force. The spending total for the war has continued to explode to the current figure of $600 billion (from US taxpayers’ funds). That is $5,000 spent every second.
McCain on Iraq:
- McCain has publicly expressed support for sending more troops to Iraq.
- McCain has explicitly stated his intent to remain in Iraq for as long as necessary, a potential timeframe of 100 years or more. He told a reporter "that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for ‘a thousand years’ or ‘a million years,’ as far as he was concerned." This ‘plan’ puts at stake all of our American children of the 21st century whose civic duty would place them on the battlefields in Iraq.
- McCain has consistently opposed attempts in Congress to set fixed timetables on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or to withdraw funding for the war.
- When asked if he knew when American troops could start to return home, McCain responded: "No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq."