McCain vs. Iowa is your one-stop website to learn about Senator McCain’s positions on the issues important to Iowa. Below you’ll find information on Senator McCain’s opposition to many issues critical to Iowa’s economy.

During the first presidential debate last week, Senator John McCain said ethanol subsidies would be the first thing he'd cut if elected President. Biofuels have added 10% to Iowa's 2007 GDP and have supported the creation of more than 96,000 Iowa jobs throughout the state.

Obviously, Iowans, even Iowa REPUBLICANS, have strongly disagreed with Senator McCain’s attack on Iowa’s economy.

After you look at the site, we need you to take action and help spread the word.  Write a letter to the editor about Sen. McCain’s opposition to the issues important to Iowa, so your community has the facts.



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Republican Testimony

Carroll County Attorney John Werden:  “ I agree that McCain’s ethanol stance may hurt him somewhat in Iowa. He needs to explain why it is that ethanol should no longer be subsidized with gas over 3 bucks a gallon.” [Iowa Independent, 9/26/08]

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey:  “Senator McCain said he'd oppose ethanol subsidies. He's said that many times. I'd certainly vehemently disagree with him as far as whether that policy makes sense or not.” [Radio Iowa, 9/29/08]

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey:  “Certainly, I think Obama has been saying the right things as far as making the industry confident that he would support ethanol and that it will grow.”  [Successful Farming, 9/9/08]

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley:  While McCain has called for no subsidies for ethanol, he has also said he is “against shipping more money overseas” through oil purchases.  “You can't have it both ways,” Grassley said.  “If you want a new industry, it is going to take some government incentives to get it started.”  The oil industry started with subsidies, Grassley said, “and those subsidies are still in place.” [DTN Progressive Farmer, 9/10/08]


Through August, John McCain had received over $1.6 million from the oil and gas industry.
[Center for Responsive Politics]

At least 43 of John McCain’s campaign advisors and fundraisers have lobbied for Big Oil.
[Campaign Money Watch]

McCain's tax plan would give the five biggest U.S. oil companies $3.8 billion in tax breaks.
[Center for American Progress]


“First of all, by the way, I'd eliminate ethanol subsidies. I oppose ethanol subsidies.” [John McCain, 9/26/08]

“And my administration will reduce the price of food by eliminating the subsidies for ethanol and agricultural goods.” [John McCain, 10/1/08]


In 2007, McCain was the only senator who skipped a key vote to end big oil tax breaks to invest in clean energy.  The motion failed by one vote.  According to a campaign spokesperson, if McCain had been there, he would have voted no.  [HR 6, Vote #425, 12/13/07;, 12/13/07]

In 2006, McCain voted for a bill that allowed the oil industry to avoid paying their fair share of taxes—resulting in $5 billion in tax breaks for big oil.  [HR 4297, Vote #118, 5/11/2006]

In 2005, McCain voted against legislation calling on the President to submit a plan to reduce foreign petroleum imports by 40 percent by 2025. [S Amdt 784 to HR 6, Vote #140, 6/16/05]


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Playing the Broken Bush Record

"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation." [John McCain, Contingencies, Sept/Oct 08]

Bush vetoed a bipartisan bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which in Iowa is called Hawk-I and covers 30,000 children.  John McCain missed the vote, but said he thought Bush’s veto was the “right call.”  [Economist, 10/4/07CNN, 10/3/07]

For his health care plan, McCain offers “an approach similar to a proposal put forth by President Bush last year.”  [Washington Post, 4/30/08]

Senator Lindsey Graham, a prominent McCain backer, admitted that on health care policy, “John McCain is calling for an extension or maybe enhancement of the Bush policies.” [ABC This Week, 6/8/08]

Under McCain’s plan, twenty million Americans could lose the health insurance they get from their jobs.  [Health Affairs, 9/16/08]

McCain’s “proposal could eventually eliminate job-based insurance altogether.”  [, 5/1/08]


45.7 million Americans are uninsured.
[U.S. Census Bureau, 8/08]

Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 98 percent.
[Calculations based on the 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey]

Last year, Bush vetoed $225 million in funding for community health centers, a measure that initially passed the Senate 56-37.
[San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13/07; Vote 405, 11/7/07]


Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance. "So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American . . . as uninsured . . .So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

John Goodman, McCain Health Policy Advisor [Dallas Morning News, 8/27/08]


When a third-party pays for a service or product—we consume it as if it was free…It’s interesting, if you would think about, the employers rather than providing health care insurance they provided food insurance.So every time you go to the grocery store you just take out your food insurance card, you give it to the cashier, she scans it, and you’re outta there. Pretty soon, you would start buying caviar, expensive steak, and you start buying more than you need, and also pretty soon the supermarket would discover that you really didn’t care about price, so the supermarket would remove price, because it doesn’t affect your decisions about what to buy and what not to buy.  

Al Hubbard, McCain Health Policy Advisor, [Think Progress, July 2008]


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“[The American people] do know that Iowa is symbolic of a lot of other things. They’ve seen ‘The Music Man.’” [John McCain, Des Moines Register, 8/31/08]

McCain calls ethanol programs "highway robbery" but supports $4 billion in new tax cuts for oil companies. [McCain statement on Energy Bill, 11/21/03; Center for American Progress, 3/27/08]

McCain tried to kill Grassley's own wind incentives program. [Vote #89, 5/11/04]

McCain opposed the last two Farm Bills. [Vote #103, 5/8/02; Iowa Independent, 5/2/08]

McCain's tax cut leaves out 2/3 of Iowa households. [Source tax claim: Calculations based on the IRS Statistics of Income]

McCain cast the decisive vote against better Medicare for rural Iowa. [Vote #89  3/25/03]



Iowa is the nation’s leading exporter of corn, soybeans, and livestock. [USDA Economic Research Service, 2008]

Iowan Norman Borlaug “helped develop and adapt strains of wheat that started the Green Revolution” and “is credited with saving a billion lives worldwide.” [Iowa Farmer Today, 2005]


“The world's first electronic digital computer was built at Iowa State in the late 1930s by mathematics and physics professor John Atanasoff and engineering graduate student Clifford Berry.” [Iowa State University]


Iowa is first in the nation in ethanol production capacity, second in biodiesel production, and fourth in wind energy production.  [Iowa Department of Economic Development; American Wind Energy Association]


McCain's Republican Party Platform:
“The U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work.”

[2008 Republican Platform, p. 30]

Dozens of speeches were given at the Republican National Convention, but not a single Iowan had the opportunity to address the delegates from the convention stage.
[2008 RNC, “Speeches”]

Extreme social conservatives denied Senator Grassley’s request to be a delegate to this year’s Republican convention. 
[Washington Times, 7/21/08]


McCain has repeatedly and consistently voted against renewable fuel and ethanol mandates. [Vote #139, Vote #138, 6/15/05; Vote #206, 6/4/03; Vote #204, Vote #203, 6/3/03; Vote #88, 4/25/02; Vote #78, 4/23/02]

In 2004, McCain introduced an amendment to eliminate all provisions relating to energy tax incentives, including wind.  The amendment failed 13-85.  [vote #89, 5/11/04, amendment failed 13-85]  Sen. Grassley created the Wind Production Tax Credit in 1992 and has said, “The wind production tax credit has been the number one reason for the influx in production and manufacturing in Iowa.  Wind energy has not only helped power many parts of Iowa, but it has provided a great deal of economic activity in struggling communities.”

In 2007, McCain was the only senator who skipped a key vote on the Energy Independence and Security Act. The issue was whether to close $13 billion in tax breaks for major oil and gas companies to invest in new clean energy technologies such as wind and solar. The motion failed by one vote.  According to, “Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was not present for the voting because he is on the presidential campaign trail. However, a spokesperson said that he would not have supported breaking the filibuster.” [Vote #425, 12/13/07;, 12/13/07]

In 2005, McCain voted against legislation calling on the President to submit a plan to reduce foreign petroleum imports by 40 percent and twice voted against legislation that would have temporarily taxed oil company profits and provided consumers with a tax credit. [Vote #140, 6/16/05; Vote #341, 11/17/05; Vote #331, 11/17/05]


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Lilly Ledbetter worked at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for 19 years.  By the time Lilly retired as a supervisor, she was making $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male supervisor.  When she made a claim for pay discrimination, the Supreme Court dismissed her case, telling her she should have filed her complaint within six months of the discrimination—even though she didn’t know she was being discriminated against at that point. [National Women’s Law Center]

Senator Obama and other Democrats in Congress supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to allow women more time to make their claims.  But John McCain supports the current regime:  unless a woman makes a claim within 180 days of initially being discriminated against, she could go her whole career being paid less than her male counterparts with no legal recourse.  When questioned about his opposition to the equal pay bill, he said women needed more “education and training.”  Disagreeing with women’s organizations across the country, McCain later said the equal pay act wouldn’t do “anything to help the rights of women.”  [USA Today, 4/23/08; National Committee on Pay Equity; Washington Post, 5/7/08]

On the day of the vote, John McCain held a town hall in Inez, KY, where he said, “I will not offer talk as a substitute for action. I will not make promises I intend to forget. And I will not make this my last visit to Inez. If I'm elected, I will come back here in the course of my administration; hold another townhall meeting, and invite you to hold me accountable for the decisions I have made and the promises I have sworn to keep.”  But why should Iowans wait to hold him accountable? []


Iowa women earn only 75.2 percent of what Iowa men earn. 
(That’s $9,794.68 less.)
Institute for Women’s Policy Research


McCain Skipped An Important Vote On Pay Discrimination To Attend Campaign Events; Later, He Said He Didn’t Support The Equal Pay Law.  McCain was one of only two senators to miss an important vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007.  On the campaign trail, McCain expressed his opposition to the bill.  [H.R. 2831, Vote #110, 4/23/08; USA Today, 4/23/08]

McCain Voted Against Providing More Effective Remedies For Victims Of Wage Discrimination. In 2000, McCain voted against the Harkin amendment to “provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex.” The amendment would have allowed workers who won their wage discrimination claims in court to collect punitive and compensatory damages in addition to back wages.  [S.Amdt. 3847 to H.R. 4810, Vote #203, 7/17/00]


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When asked about his plan to address rural health care in May 2008, McCain admitted it “may not sound too serious” and said he wanted to “enlist great athletes to come around the country” and talk to students about wellness and fitness.  [National Journal, 5/1/08; WATCH THE VIDEO]

There is no plan to bring doctors, nurses, or other health care professionals to rural America on John McCain's official campaign website. []

McCain rejects any calls for universal health coverage.  Millions of rural Americans would be left uninsured and underinsured under Senator McCain’s plan.  [Washington Post 4/30/08EPI, 5/23/08]

McCain’s plan would reduce incentives for employers to provide health insurance.  The tax credits he proposes are woefully insufficient to cover average Americans’ health care costs. In fact, in states like Iowa, McCain’s plan would raise taxes on many middle-class families and still fail to make adequate insurance affordable. [ 5/1/08; NY Times 5/1/08; Center for America Progress, 7/2/08]


A recent study estimates that 242,000 Iowans will be without reliable access to care by 2015.
Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa ranks 49th in Medicare reimbursement rates nationwide. Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Rural residents face higher out-of-pocket costs of health care.
Muskie School of Public Service


John McCain Provided Key Vote Against Fair Medicare Reimbursements for Rural Health Care Providers.  In 2003, McCain voted against Senator Harkin’s amendment that would have reduced Bush’s enormous tax cuts given to the wealthiest American tax payers in order to give a fair reimbursement to rural health care providers under Medicare. The amendment failed by one vote.  [SCR 23, Vote 89, 3/25/03]

John McCain Opposed a Bipartisan Bill that Provided Nearly $2 Billion to Rural America.  McCain was the only senator to miss a key vote on a bipartisan bill to stop a cut in Medicare payments to physicians and provide almost two billion critical dollars to rural America.  He later issued a press statement opposing it.  [NRHA, 7/15/08; HR 6331, Vote 169, 7/9/08; McCain press release, 7/9/08]


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"Plain and simple, the ethanol program is highway robbery perpetrated on the American public by Congress." Senator John McCain, November 21, 2003, Statement on Energy Bill ,

"Gasohol production is the worst subsidy-laden energy use ever perpetrated on the American public, and it starts with sweet corn." Senator John McCain, November 19, 2003, Speech on the Energy Bill

"Ethanol is not worth it. It does not help the consumer." "Those ethanol subsidies should be phased out, and everybody here on this stage, if it wasn't for the fact that Iowa is the first caucus state, would share my view that we don't need ethanol subsidies. It doesn't help anybody." Senator John McCain, December 14, 1999, MSNBC debate

During his 2000 campaign, McCain called for eliminating the "corporate welfare doled out to" ethanol grants, and stated "ethanol is not right, the subsidies should be phased out." Houston Chronicle, 2/11/00; Associated Press, 1/3/00

"We've got to stop subsidizing ethanol in my view." April 21, 2008, Press conference in Selma, AL


Ethanol and biodiesel generate $2.9 billion of household income for Iowa households (almost $1,000 per Iowan).
IRFA Press Release, 1/31/08 &
U.S. Census Bureau Estimate


McCain has repeatedly and consistently voted against renewable fuel and ethanol mandates: [Vote 139, Vote 138, 6/15/05; Vote 206, 6/4/03; Vote 204, Vote 203, 6/3/03; Vote 88, 4/25/02; Vote 78, 4/23/02]

In 1998, McCain sponsored an amendment to end tax credits for ethanol and methanol manufacturers. [Vote 27, S. Amdt. 1963, 3/11/98].


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"I would veto that bill, and all others like it that serve only the cause of special interests and corporate welfare." Senator John McCain, May 19, 2008, on the 2008 Farm Bill

"We've got to set some priorities in Washington and that means saying, 'No,' sometimes. Saying, 'No!' sometimes! That's what you have to do! And I might point out that Senator Obama supported the Farm Bill. So, and I didn't. And I won't." WATCH THE VIDEO

"If I were the president, I would veto that farm bill in a New. York. Minute." WATCH THE VIDEO

"So I'd like to start out by saying to you that I have to give you a little straight talk about the Farm Bill that is winding its way through Congress. I do not support it, I would veto it." WATCH THE VIDEO

"My friends, this bill deserves your condemnation, the president's vetoing it. To its everlasting shame, the congress of the United States, Republican and Democrat will override the veto. I will veto a farm bill and I will make 'em famous and I can tell you that we're not going to have business as usual in Washington when I'm president of the United States.WATCH THE VIDEO


One in five Iowa jobs come from our farms
From USDA.GOV employment data


Senator McCain voted against the 2002 Farm Bill and has said that if he were President, he would veto the current Farm Bill supported by the entire Iowa congressional delegation. [Vote 103, HR 2646, 5/8/02; Iowa Independent, 5/2/08; Vote 315, HR 2419, 5/14/08; Vote 130, HR 2419, 5/15/08]

In 2006, McCain authored an amendment- which was rejected by the Senate- that would have cut $74.5 million from various agriculture programs. [Vote 108, S. Amdt. 3616, 5/3/06]