When talking about the economy, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) regularly resorts to talking about one of his favorite subjects: pork barrel spending projects known as earmarks. “The first big-spending pork-barrel earmark bill that comes across my desk, I will veto it. I will make them famous, and you will know their names,” McCain constantly says.
During an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric yesterday, McCain said that the current financial crisis “is of the utmost seriousness and a crisis of enormous proportions.” But sticking to his mantra, McCain strangely cited earmarks as “one of the major reasons why we’re having difficulties”:
McCAIN: [W]e’ve got to take tough decisions and one of them is government spending by the way. One of the major reasons why we’re having difficulties is we let spending get completely out of control — earmark and pork-barrel projects. Senator Obama asked for over $900 million in earmarks pork-barrel projects, that’s not part of the answer thats part of the problem.
Watch it (starting at 8:55):
But of course, earmarks have very little to do with the current financial crisis — one that is actually rooted in bad mortgages and crashing credit markets. But that doesn’t seem to stop McCain from thinking it does. In fact, this isn’t the first time McCain has blamed earmarks for seemingly unrelated calamities:
— Hurricane Katrina: “[McCain] places ‘some of those responsibilities on the Congress of the United States, which funded pork barrel projects that were not only not needed and certainly not as important as some of the projects that were needed [in New Orleans]”
— Minnesota Bridge Collapse: “The bridge in Minneapolis didn’t collapse because there wasn’t enough money,” McCain told reporters while campaigning in Pennsylvania. “The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects.”
McCain was forced to walk back his comments on the Minnesota bridge after the state’s Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said “citizens should not jump to conclusions about the bridge collapse.”
McCain also likes to say that eliminating earmarks will balance the budget but, in fact, that would do little to balance the budget — let alone save the entire economy. But as McCain himself has said, “economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”