McCain Says He No Longer Objects To Earmarks, Just The ‘Process’

ap080125027203.jpg Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has repeatedly pledged that if elected president, he “will veto every bill with earmarks.” But in recent months, McCain has slipped further and further away from that promise:

— After ThinkProgress pointed out that military housing and aid to Israel, McCain said that he would make an exception for certain projects.

— On April 24, McCain backtracked from his sweeping pledge, saying he would now judge spending cuts “on the basis of need.”

— McCain has repeatedly used earmark-funded projects and venues as backdrops to his campaign events.

Yesterday, McCain held a health care event at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA. While there he met Mary, a woman with ovarian cancer who was treated “in a $80 million clinical trial program funded by an earmark.” Confronted with this “human face of earmark spending,” McCain again backed away from his campaign rhetoric:

McCain praised the woman’s treatment and later said some earmarks were clearly worthy.

“It’s the process I object to,” McCain told reporters. “We need to start over from scratch.” […]

“When you earmark in the middle of the night you have no budgetary constraints,” he said.

As Politico’s Ben Smith notes, “That’s one thing about spending cuts: Much harder when you get to the details.”

Here’s the problem with McCain’s constant flipping: The reason the senator has said he opposes earmarks is because they are fiscally irresponsible. “No is always the right answer to wasteful spending,” according to McCain. Similarly, his campaign aides like to tout the costs McCain will supposedly save taxpayers by getting rid of all earmarks.

So now, if McCain is only opposed to the “process” and willing to fund some “worthy” earmarks, which programs will he cut to come up with that $95 billion in savings he has promised? So far, his campaign hasn’t been willing to give any specifics.