McCain, A Man Of Many Contradictions

Our guest bloggers are Robert Gordon and James Kvaal, senior fellows at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

mccain.JPGEven while John McCain attacks Barack Obama for “changing positions,” he is pioneering the art of running on multiple contradictory positions – or so we argued yesterday over at the New Republic.

McCain says he’s for Social Security privatization, but his website says he isn’t. His website says he’s for repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and sweeping corporate tax cuts, but his aides apparently told the Tax Policy Center he isn’t. His aides embrace a $3.6 trillion tax increase, except when it’s pointed out that middle-class households will pay more in taxes too. And so on.

Our timing was good: the McCain campaign continued the pattern yesterday. In a written statement, McCain criticized cuts to Medicare subsidies for insurance companies – subsidies his policy advisor said he opposed. And McCain aides reportedly told Larry Kudlow that McCain is backing away from climate change legislation – something other McCain aides denied.

Most likely, these contradictory positions reflect the contradictory political priorities faced by the McCain campaign: shoring up the base while reaching out to independents. As a result McCain is sometimes a supply-sider and sometimes a deficit-hawk. He wants to transform our health care system and Social Security at no cost to anybody. He wants to clamp down spending, just not any specific program with a constituency.