Promises, Promises

The deficit hawks at New America’s US Budget Watch have put out a slightly silly report on the budgetary impact of the presidential campaigns’ proposals. The main tactic seems to be to uncritically accept various assertions. Thus, McCain is said to be proposing to increase the 2013 deficit by somewhere between $275 and $367 billion relative to the CBO “current baseline.” But this involves crediting him, literally, with $159 billion worth of “Implement Unspecified Cuts to Balance the Budget.” Now to be fair, they treat both campaigns equally in this regard, but since Barack Obama is only claiming $50 billion worth of “Implement Unspecified Cuts to Slow Spending” they manage to give McCain a credit of $109 billion extra dollars of magic. This winds up being rather important, since the US Budget Watch methodology charges Obama with proposals to increase the 2013 deficit by $387 billion relative to the current law baseline.

In other words, according to US Budget Watch, even the high-end McCain deficit is smaller than the Obama deficit. But the difference is accounted for exclusively by McCain’s additional $109 billion in unspecified measures!

There’s also this stunning passage:

Senator McCain has proposed an optional, alternative tax system with two rates and a single large standard deduction to replace most existing deductions, exclusions, and credits. According to the McCain campaign, this alternative system would be revenue neutral. On the other hand, outside experts think that because most taxpayers will choose the system in which they pay lower taxes, significant revenue would be lost.


Naturally, they treat the McCain campaign’s $0 estimate as authoritative even though only an idiot would deny that “most taxpayers will choose the system in which they pay lower taxes.