Those expecting a new and improved version of John McCain’s economic vision will be disappointed by today’s speech in Virginia. There is no innovative middle class tax cut, or any breakthrough investment initiative for the 21st century. But there is a persuasive contrast between his own plan–lower taxes, market-oriented healthcare, a discretionary spending freeze, and free trade–and Barack Obama’s agenda. As some people have been urging, he comes flat out and says: “The last President to raise taxes and restrict trade in a bad economy as Senator Obama proposes was Herbert Hoover.”
If he continues to pound home these contrasts and grills his opponent at the debate (e.g. How much is that fine for those who won’t comply with your heathcare mandate? Why wouldn’t you want to make our corporate tax rates competitive?), he might yet make some headway, Is it too long in coming and lacking pizazz? Maybe. But voters taking a final look at the candidates are going to judge the substance of their messages–not the timing.