As part of a plan to reinvigorate his flagging campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is considering additional economic measures aimed directly at the middle class that are likely to be rolled out this week, campaign officials said.
Among the measures being considered are tax cuts – perhaps temporary – for capital gains and dividends, the officials said.
“The market’s the focus,” a McCain adviser said. “You want to stop the fleeing.”
No more bailout money is being contemplated, the adviser said. “We’ve written a check to everyone in sight,” the adviser said. “We’re not in that game.”
McCain advisers hope that by being specific, he can pose a contrast to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who has been benefited from taking a vague but consistent approach to policy during the economic crisis.
Top McCain supporters have been agitating for a more robust economic package. It would give McCain something fresh to talk about on the stump, and dilute the perception that he’s relying mostly on attacks in the final stretch.
The McCain team is trying to stave off panic at a time of trouble for the nation - and for the campaign. He's doing this with an issue that has tormented him, as he has taken a patchwork approach to addressing the top issue on voters’ minds.
McCain has careened from stance to stance on the economy, starting with saying the fundamentals are sound, focusing on earmarks, applauding new powers for the Treasury Department, then advocating a bailout for homeowners.
In a matter of weeks, McCain has gone from being a conventional tax-cutting conservative to a big-government interventionist.
Officials could not say what the package might include because more than 30 ideas have been put in front of McCain during the current crisis, and they said he has to choose what to unveil and when.
“That’s up to McCain,” one official said.
Among the ideas that have been considered are a bigger tax deduction for middle class mortgages, and more a more robust loan program for small businesses. But officials said the front-burner ideas all dealt specifically with markets.
McCain’s new package would amount to a do-over from the hasty introduction of McCain’s mortgage buy-up program, which was widely criticized by conservatives and was seized on by Obama as a fresh target.
So top McCain advisers want him to throw more out there, hoping it’ll stick.
McCain and his inner circle will consider the possibilities at a meeting Sunday, officials said.
The measures being considered are aimed at jump-starting the economy by helping the middle class and bolstering trust and confidence in financial markets, the officials said.