John McCain is courting the negociocito vote. The only GOP candidate who agreed to debate on Univision in August spoke to the Hispanic Business Expo in Detroit on Friday. The speech was typical campaign boilerplate:
Entrepreneurs lie at the heart of innovation, growth, and advancing prosperity. Hard work, ingenuity, and starting a business are a proven route to meeting one's goals and providing for children and family. A culture that supports entrepreneurs and embraces their success will prosper. Entrepreneurs create the ultimate job security --a new, better opportunity if your current job goes away. Job security is an element of particular concern to Michigan workers, particularly those in the ailing automotive industry. Economic insecurity is seemingly the buzzword of today. Entrepreneurs are the best antidote for both.
But we must preserve their freedom. Entrepreneurs should not be shackled by excessive regulation that raises the cost of business. Entrepreneurs should not be disadvantaged by earmarking and pork-barrel spending that favors politically connected competitors. Entrepreneurs should not be starved of risk capital by burdensome accounting requirements that drive capital to other markets. Entrepreneurs should not be taxed into submission.
The solutions, according to McCain:
'¢ Controlling health care costs by helping "small businesses link together to provide health care to their employees."
'¢ Simplifying the tax code by abolishing the alternative minimum tax and taxing instead "consumed income." Said McCain: "I want America's smartest people creating jobs, not wasting their time, energy and capital navigating our incomprehensible tax laws."
'¢ Curbing "wasteful spending" on programs that aren't "any more effective than they were twenty years ago."
So McCain's for less spending and lower taxes. Or is he? At the end of his speech, he offered this:
We must remain committed to education, retraining, and help for displaced workers....We need to help displaced workers make ends meet between jobs and move people quickly on to the next opportunity....[C]ommunity colleges do a great job of providing the right skills to workers and the right workers for firms. We should take greater advantage of this record of success....
All of which, as Salon blogger Andrew Leonard points out, sounds like basic big-government, tax-and-spend Democratic policy.
The Arizona Senator, though, gets props for, alone among the Republicans, actually campaigning for the Hispanic vote. But is he saying what they want to hear? There was this: "Almost three-quarters of Hispanic business owners staked their personal savings on their success, and only one-and-half percent took the security of a government loan, the lowest percentage of any group in the country." ¡SÃ! Latinos should be proud that it's harder for them to get a bank loan, and that the SBA has more trouble reaching them than, say, white folk. Take those lemons and make limonada!
Unfortunately for McCain, the Latino business community apparently doesn't see it that way. They seem to want as much access to the SBA-backed loans as Anglo -- or any other -- businesses have. Back in 2003, as the Bush Administration proposed big cuts to the SBA, Mickey Ibarra of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce urged the Congress "to reverse what we believe are threats to the flagship programs of SBA, to include the 7(a), 504, the SBIC, as well as the micro-loan programs." He was testifying before the Senate Small Business Committee. "Today, more than ever before," he told the Senators, "the SBA is viewed by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as vital to the success of small business." But McCain wasn't on the Small Business Committee, so it's likely he never heard the testimony.