John McCain won the nomination on foreign policy. He dispatched Romney and Huckabee because he made foreign policy and the Surge the decisive questions of the campaign.
Beyond promises to take on spending and some tactical tax-cutting to cut off Romney’s running room, McCain needed to say little about the economy.
McCain had hoped to do the same with Obama. But the economic crisis has forced McCain to fight the rest of the election on the economy.
He needs to propose an Economic Surge
First the bad news. McCain’s inner circle is remarkably light on shrewd economic advisors. McCain needs an economic message to hammer for the next 32 days. He needs someone who can help him develop a meaningful action plan to engage Obama’s breathtakingly irresponsible proposals, while offering voters a tax-cutting, growth-creating, dollar-strengthening anti-inflationary program of his own.
And he needs to do it immediately.
Who would I suggest to quarterback this? Someone McCain can trust to give him the ammunition and plan he needs. I think Rudy Giuliani would be perfect. He understands the economy and enjoys McCain’s trust.
Now the good news. An exciting package is possible. The only metric should be that a proposal provide both middle class relief and a juice to grow the economy.
So what might be in the program?
Beyond McCain’s existing economic commitments:
An additional middle class tax cut (perhaps via a cut on payroll taxes)
A flat tax of 15% on income withdrawals from retirement (IRA/401k) accounts to help retirees as well encouraging those saving for retirement to maximize their saving and investing.
A long-term capital gains holding period of 60 days rather than one year to unlock capital and promote capital formation.
A capital gains tax rate of zero or 5% on the first $50,000 of capital gains.
If John McCain unveils his economic surge on Monday, he could take it to the country and Obama during the second debate and make the opposing proposals the central debate for the rest of the campaign.
So of course McCain can win.