Earlier this year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposed a deficit-reduction plan in which he would balance the budget by 2012. “[T]hat’s my goal. … It has to be our goal, because we’re mortgaging these young people’s future,” he said in February.
Now, McCain’s advisers are abandoning this tough talk. The New York Times reports that chief economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said the next president should not even talk about balancing the budget, adopting a “so be it” approach to the costs of the Iraq war and McCain’s corporate tax cuts:
[Holtz-Eakin] said the benefits of success in Iraq dwarfed the $150 billion annual cost. He also said that if the war and the personal and corporate tax cuts that Mr. McCain advocated added to the federal deficit and debt, so be it.
“I would like the next president not to talk about deficit reduction,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said at a symposium sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “The next president should talk about what’s good for American families — education, health care at reasonable costs, pensions that are secure, opening our borders to trade. If we can take care of that, we can take care of the budget.”
Holtz-Eakin has gradually moved away from McCain’s budget plan. While originally proposing a balanced budget by 2012, Holtz-Eakin later conceded that McCain’s tax plan “will make deficits expand up front.” When asked last week about the budget , “McCain did not explain how he plans to balance the budget, but spoke generally about hoping to stimulate the economy,” the Times observed.
In reality, McCain’s tax plan costs more than $2 trillion in the first decade by doubling the Bush tax cuts, obliterating prospects of a balanced budget. As Reuters observed, McCain’s plan also leaves much unexplained, failing to explain “how he would rein in the health-care and retirement costs expected to swamp” as boomers retire, the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and interest on the $10 trillion national debt.
Observing how McCain’s budget numbers simply don’t add up, Newsweek’s Daniel Gross noted, “McCain’s fiscal program is either a joke or a fantasy.”
Now, McCain’s top economic adviser is admitting that McCain will essentially run away from the $400 billion budget deficit as president.