McCain Campaign Backtracks On Balanced Budget Pledge, Admits It Might ‘Take Longer’ Than End Of First Term

mccain234.jpgAs ThinkProgress has noted, despite the recent economic downturn and $700 bailout, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his advisers still pledged that McCain will balance the budget by the end of his first term. “I believe we can still balance the budget,” McCain said last month when asked if he could “achieve your goal of balancing the budget in your first term.”

Yesterday, however, in a debate with Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee at Columbia University, McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin significantly lowered the bar for McCain. Holtz-Eakin admitted that the economic crisis makes McCain’s balanced budget promise “harder,” thus it will take “longer” to implement:

“The events of the past few months have completely thrown a wrench into that, there’s no way round it. He would still like to balance it. It’s going to be harder, take longer,” said Holtz-Eakin at a debate with his Democratic counterpart at Columbia University in New York.

Holtz-Eakin is finally admitting the obvious: that it is impossible for McCain to fulfill his balanced budget pledge. The Wonk Room has noted that McCain’s proposals would result in the largest deficit in 25 years. Combined with the economic crisis and the $700 billion bailout, balancing the budget through massive spending cuts is neither prudent nor plausible. Next year’s deficit is predicted to start at roughly $550 billion and go as high as $1 trillion.

It’s unclear, however, what the campaign’s real policy on the budget is. Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin said that McCain would still balance the budget by the end of his first term.

Furthermore, in the third presidential debate, McCain promised an “across-the-board spending freeze” in order to reduce the deficit, while still sticking to his radical tax plan.