Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pledged to balance the federal budget by 2013. “John McCain will balance the budget by the end of his first term,” a McCain economic plan stated. Top economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin confirmed these plans yesterday to the New York Times, stating that McCain’s “plan is to balance the budget by the end of his first term in 2013.”
But on the same day, Holtz-Eakin flip-flopped on this pledge, lowering the bar for McCain by stating that the senator “has always” pledged to balance the budget by the end of his second term. Bloomberg reports:
McCain senior economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin repeated the 2013 goal in a conference call before McCain’s speech today. After the speech, Holtz-Eakin said: “The senator has always pledged to balance the budget by the end of his second term.” A McCain second term would end in 2017.
Holtz-Eakin’s second-term “pledge” is the latest in an increasingly confused economic message. In April, McCain backed off a February pledge to balance the budget in his first term. The New York Times reported that McCain said “at a news conference … that ‘economic conditions are reversed’ and that he would have a balanced budget within eight years.”
This morning on CNN, in a testy exchange with John Roberts on whether his numbers add up, McCain declared, “We’ll balance the budget.” McCain did not, however, give a specific year for balancing the budget. Watch it:
In the interview, McCain repeatedly said he would balance the budget through cutting spending: “And that’s our problem today is spending and not keeping taxes low.” But yesterday, McCain adviser Meg Whitman said that the tax cuts “are not contingent” on reducing spending.
It seems that muddying the waters is also a key part of the McCain economic plan.