James Fallows liked Bob Schieffer but noticed that he, too, has fallen prey to the neo-Hooverite bug:
2) Notwithstanding general praise for Schieffer, he like all the other debate moderators seemed to be unduly interested in how either of the candidates is going to “balance the budget.”
NEITHER OF THEM IS GOING TO BALANCE THE BUDGET — nor should they be mainly concerned with trying, right at the moment. We’re in the middle of a potential economic collapse. One of the lessons Herbert Hoover inadvertently taught is that you shouldn’t try to tighten up on public spending during a huge downturn. For details, see the works of JM Keynes, passim.
In semi-defense of Schieffer, arguably he was simply giving both candidates an opportunity to say that in light of present circumstances they were going to revise budget promises they’d made when the macroeconomic situation looked more favorable. But neither candidate really did that. Obama stuck to policy guns that are inconsistent with an emphasis on deficit reduction, but got defensive about it and insisting that vaguely specified cuts elsewhere would make up the gap rather than simply arguing that an emphasis on deficit reduction would be inappropriate. McCain continued to make fiscal policy promises that imply gargantuan cuts in programs outside the favored circle of defense, veterans, and, I guess, autism.