On ABC’s Good Morning America today, senior McCain campaign adviser Meg Whitman defended Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) infamous flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts by arguing that McCain voted against them because “they were not accompanied by a decrease in government spending.” “You cannot just keep tax rates low, which is what Americans want, and keep government spending growing,” said Whitman.
But in a separate interview with CNBC today, Whitman contradicted this line of argument when pressed by Steve Forbes (whose ties to the McCain campaign were not disclosed). Asked by Forbes if McCain’s massive tax cuts are dependent on “controlling spending,” Whitman replied, “No, they are not”:
FORBES: But are the tax cuts contingent on controlling spending?
WHITMAN: No, they are not contingent. But what he has said is that they must be — you know, we have to do both. For the good of the American people, for the good of the American economy, we must do both.
FORBES: Now, Meg, one of the things…
WHITMAN: But they are not contingent.
Whitman’s claim that McCain’s tax cuts “are not contingent” on controlling spending is contradictory with the principle that she claims guided McCain’s vote against Bush’s tax cuts. It also contradicts McCain’s own claims about tax cuts.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt in April, McCain said “spending restraint” is necessary for tax cuts:
MCCAIN: But the spending, that’s like saying you agree with somebody in everything but – you see what I mean – because spending restraint has got to be a part of any economic package if you’re going to cut taxes.
Additionally, though the McCain campaign frequently claims he opposed the Bush tax cuts because of a lack of “spending restraint,” that’s not completely true. In fact, he largely claimed he was against them because they “mostly benefit the wealthy.”
Apparently, when you flip-flop as much as McCain has, it’s not hard for the candidate and his surrogates to lose track of what position he actually holds.