Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has claimed that he can cut up to $100 billion in earmark spending, a major tenet of his plan to balance the budget. The Wonk Room has noted, however, that McCain’s budget numbers do not add up. In a Tuesday event at the RNC, a host noted that the total cost of earmarks pales in comparison to the war in Iraq, Social Security, and health care spending. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) admitted that the earmark pledge is in reality just “symbolic”:
KYL: It is true that the question of earmarks is more symbolic than it is significant in terms of the total amount of money. But if he combines that with the notion of ending wasteful Washington spending…And so if addition to earmarks, which are relatively small, you begin to focus on not just raising taxes but to reducing spending here and there, that is a big deal.
Kyl also said that the frequent conservative catch phrase “wasteful Washington spending” is just political rhetoric. “The reason that I use it is because the consultants who look at the polls tell us that if there’s anything that drives American taxpayers crazy it’s that phrase ‘wasteful Washington spending,'” he admitted. “They hate it.”