Madison - The signing today of the bipartisan economic stimulus bill means that 2.6 million families in Wisconsin will receive tax rebates of up to $1,200 per couple, plus $300 per child as early as mid-May. While most of Washington came together to provide much needed assistance to Wisconsin families struggling to cope with higher cost of living expenses, stagnating wages, job losses and a mortgage crisis that threatens the economic security of countless Wisconsinites, one Republican in Washington was too worried about his presidential campaign to show up for a crucial vote.

Last week Republican frontrunner John McCain--who recently told reporters he "doesn't really understand economics"--was too busy campaigning and too afraid to alienate the right wing of his Party to vote on a key element of the stimulus package. Despite being in Washington, and despite the fact that fellow Senators who traveled with him made it to the Senate in time to vote, McCain was the only senator to miss a vote on whether to improve the economic stimulus package by adding assistance for 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans to the package. Because of McCain's absence, the measure fell one vote short.

"John McCain's decision to put his campaign interests ahead of protecting Wisconsin’s working families and veterans shows how out of touch he is with the struggles facing average Americans in Wisconsin and around the country," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Joe Wineke. "The last thing we need is four more years of a president who puts what's good for him ahead of what's good for our country. McCain clearly offers a third Bush term." 

By getting money into the hands of America's families and small businesses, the plan is expected to add 500,000 jobs to the economy.  The plan will provide a tax rebate for the low and middle-income families who are being hit hardest by the economic downturn. More than 130 million families, including 35 million families across the country who work but make too little to pay income taxes will receive a tax rebate. The plan will also provide recovery rebate checks to 28 million households of senior citizens and disabled veterans.

McCain Admits He "Doesn't Really Understand Economics." At a recent meeting with the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Republican presidential candidate John McCain admitted he "doesn't really understand economics" and then pointed to his adviser and former senate colleague, Phil Gramm - whom he had brought with him to the meeting - as the expert he turns to on the subject, the Huffington Post has learned.  [Huffington Post, 1/21/2008]

John McCain Ducks Stimulus Vote.  "Republican presidential candidate John McCain skipped a difficult Senate vote Wednesday on whether to make 20 million seniors and 250,000 disabled veterans eligible for rebate checks as part of a proposed economic stimulus package. The Arizona senator's decision to miss the vote appeared to come at the last minute, after his plane had landed at DullesInternationalAirport outside Washington just before the proceedings opened on the Senate floor."  [Associated Press, 2/6/08]

McCain Afraid to Cross Conservatives Before CPAC Speech. "President Bush and Republican leaders, as well as conservatives McCain was scheduled to woo on Thursday, vehemently oppose the expanded benefits and subsidies.  That put McCain in a bad political spot.  Voting 'no' with Republican leaders would have offended millions of Social Security recipients and the disabled veterans not scheduled to receive rebates. Voting 'yes,' on the other hand, risked alienating Bush, GOP leaders and conservatives already suspicious of McCain's political leanings." [Associated Press, 2/6/08]