McCain’s Good Start in St. Paul  

Did John McCain make the sale in St. Paul on a pro-growth economic-recovery plan? Did he connect with the working folks and blue-collar union types who will be so important come November? Did he make the case for tax cuts and energy drilling?

I think he did.

The day after the speech the InTrade pay-to-play prediction markets had McCain up four points to a 43 percent probability of winning. That’s his best score ever. Obama dropped four points to 56 percent. Over at Rasmussen, McCain recorded a bounce that closes Obama’s lead to 48-46. Pre-speech Obama was ahead 50-45.

So Big Mac may have done pretty well in St. Paul. Nonetheless, economic anxieties remain high in America, and the McCain-Palin team must still develop a comprehensive economic-recovery plan. It was reported on Friday that the U.S. jobless rate climbed to 6.1 percent while non-farm payrolls dropped 84,000. Even though the overall economy appears flat to slightly above water, we are surely in a mild jobs recession.

But McCain’s growth plan of energy drilling and lower taxes may well be what the doctor ordered for job anxieties. A careful reading of his acceptance speech shows very strong pro-growth content. I counted no fewer than six references to cutting taxes or keeping taxes low. And he took on Obama directly: “My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them.”

McCain also vowed that he “will keep taxes low” and “cut them where [he] can.” And he said his proposal to slash the corporate tax rate is a job creator. He also mentioned the child tax exemption and the pro-consumer refundable tax credit for health care.

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He also embraced the drill, drill, drill theme. “We will produce more energy at home,” he said. “We will drill new wells offshore and we’ll drill them now.” And he made it clear that “Sen. Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that.”

In an important passage, he called energy reform and deregulation a “great national cause” that “will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity.” This is good stuff. He then linked his call for action on drilling to stopping Tsar Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reassemble the Russian empire.

He also hit the right notes on education. He said, “Education is the civil-rights issue of this century,” and he made a forceful case for school choice, competition, and empowering parents. Terrific. Obama “wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies.” McCain wants “schools to answer to parents and students.”

McCain failed to mention King Dollar as a means of holding down inflation, and that’s a big miss in my book. But he did at least outline a conservative reform agenda on key economic issues including tax cuts, spending discipline, free trade, energy expansion, school choice, and pro-competition health care that puts consumers in the driver’s seat, not government.