March 20, 2008

McCain's boilerplate policies

McCain has finally released a boilerplate list of Indian policies that's notable for what it doesn't say.

John McCain on Native American Policy“I believe the federal government has a special ethical and legal responsibility to help make the American dream accessible to Native Americans” --John McCain

Over the years John McCain has received the support and friendship of many people from Indian Country, and he is committed to ensuring that they are treated justly and fairly. As president, John McCain will continue to build on his record of achieving results for Indian Country, and will continue to do so through close consultation with the tribes.

John McCain believes in protecting tribal sovereignty and recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes and the trust responsibility. He has twice proudly served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (1995-1997 and 2005-2007) and continues to be a member of the Committee. John McCain has been a leader in Congress by sponsoring legislation and enacting laws that help improve conditions on Indian reservations and strengthen the ability of tribal governments to provide essential programs and services.
Comment:  So a year after Democratic candidates have been talking about Indian issues, McCain releases his Indian platform. Finally.

Everything McCain says sounds good on the surface. You have to read what he says carefully and wonder what it means. In particular, he doesn't say one word about increasing funding for Indian services, a key indicator of his beliefs.

Consider what he does say. "Downsize bureaucracy"...and reduce funding? "Prioritize and simplify"...and reduce funding? "Reform the system"...and reduce funding? "Reauthorize" and "continue" programs...but reduce funding?

Note that McCain doesn't say anything that really goes against the wishes of his conservative base. Protect natural resources from development? No. Protect sacred sites from development? No. Appoint pro-Indian judges and reverse anti-Indian court decisions? No.

Note also that he doesn't mention gaming, which is obviously a huge issue in Indian country. That's because he's tried to "reform" (i.e., weaken) the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and thus reduce the tribes' ability to exercise their sovereignty and pursue economic self-sufficiency. Thanks but no thanks, John.


Anonymous said...

Senator McCain wrote the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988... he has and will continue to support tribes who wish to engage in gaming. His home state of Arizona has 21 gaming tribes.

John McCain wants to give tribes more control of the money that ends up (unfortunately) in Washington bureaucrats.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And John McCain also is one of the driving personalities behind forcing a piteous and egregious 'settlement' of the bankrupted American Indian Trust. McCain and the Congress want the matter over and done with at less than $.10 on the dollar, take it or leave it, or go back where you came from. And the former Contras of Nicaragua sit on their yachts and review their offshore account holdings on their satellite laptops and plant kisses on their huge portraits of Pres. Ronald Reagan...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

McCain may have co-written IGRA, but now he wants to "reform" it. Indians almost unanimously oppose such reforms.

McCain may have helped Indians before, but what has he done for them lately? Not as much as someone in his position could have done.

Yes, McCain wants to give tribes more control of their money. Unfortunately, he also wants to cut their money from the federal budget, give it away in tax cuts, and throw it away in Iraq.

P.S. I guess you're not a McCain supporter, Russ. You must be a Clinton supporter.

Anonymous said...

Senator McCain has done a lot for Indian Country lately. In fact, he was the leading voice in Congress to get tribes federal money to fight the methamphetamine crisis. He also has been fighting Congress, on behalf of Arizona tribes, to settle tribal water rights issues and claims.

What has Clinton or Obama "done lately for Indian country?" They offer a lot of rhetoric, but as usual, they never seem to deliever any results for Indian country. For instance, what ever happened to President Clinton's commitment to bridge the digital divide? Again, at least John McCain has a clear record of accomplishments.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Oh, wow, writerfella can hear John McCain now, singing his Karaoke version of a Monkees hit, "I'M A DELIEVER!" Now, how much of a jump is it for him actually to be singing, "DECEIVER"? For McCain, not that much, as he still is trying to sue Paris Hilton because of the Hanoi Hilton...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

Let's take a look at the Indian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization Bill as an example of McCain's leadership. Note that the second posting is from 2005. Under McCain, nothing happened for three years.

This bill, which is designed to address the health care needs of some two million residents of the United States who can claim American Indian ancestry, is an important step toward honoring the obligations that we as Americans have toward the health and welfare of Native Americans. This bill will make up-to-date amendments to the health care available to 1.9 million rural and urban indigenous people in the United States, and will restore honor to the federal government’s trust and obligation to native tribes.

Congress passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in 1976 to address health disparities between Native Americans and the rest of the populace. Since 1992, when the act was last reauthorized, the U.S. health care delivery system has been revolutionized, while the Indian health care system has not.

The maverick Republican only plans to run the committee for two years but during that time he expects to tackle the federal budget, trust reform off-reservation gaming and a lobbying scandal that affected six tribes. He also hopes to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which faltered last year due to delays from the Bush administration.

McCain laid out his broad agenda at the National Congress of American Indians winter session last Tuesday. He said he wants to solicit tribal input "about what we should be doing" at the committee.

One issue where tribes have already raised their voices involves President Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget. More than $200 million has been cut from critical education, housing, health and other programs.

McCain said he agrees with tribal criticism of the budget. "They're not good, obviously," he said of the cuts. "We need to restore those programs."

Last August, the American Association of People with Disabilities sent a survey to every presidential candidate asking whether they would support the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and what they would do to improve the quality of health provided to Native people with disabilities.

It's telling that none of the top three Republican candidates (former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Sen. John McCain) responded to the survey. All of the top three Democratic candidates (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards) responded to the survey.

Here are the Democratic candidates' responses:

Clinton: I am a strong supporter of developing innovative ways to ensure that health and rehabilitation services are provided to minority groups, particularly Native Americans. In this regard, I am a cosponsor of current Senate Bill 1200, a bill that would expand and reauthorize the Indian Healthcare Act. As President, I will continue to outreach to those groups like Native Americans that have historically been denied high-quality healthcare.

Obama: Yes, I strongly support reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. I am an original cosponsor of the bill, which is expected to pass the Senate this year. As President, I would increase funding for a variety of tribal health care programs that have been cut under the Bush Administration. This includes fully funding clinical services, and restoring funds for programs such as the Urban Indian Healthcare Program. Second, Native Americans, including those with disabilities, will be able to participate in my universal health care plan which will provide high-quality health care services. I am aware, however, that universal health care for everyone does not mean equal access to healthcare for everyone. One of the major problems facing American Indians is a chronic lack of basic health care facilities. I am committed to investing the necessary resources into health care infrastructure. This includes providing funding for health care workers, and requiring compliance from plans that do not meet performance thresholds.

Rob said...

Compare the Democrats' plans, especially Obama's, with the boilerplate from McCain's Native policy. Note that McCain says nothing about increasing "funding for a variety of tribal health care programs that have been cut under the Bush Administration." In fact, McCain doesn't even acknowledge that he and his Republican cohorts have reduced social services for Indians.