Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 23, 2008

ABOUT THAT BALANCED-BUDGET PROMISE.... The notion that John McCain can inherit a half-trillion dollar deficit, cut taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars, respond to a massive financial crisis, keep two wars going, and eliminate the entire budget shortfall in four years is utterly ridiculous. This week, the McCain campaign walked the senator's promise back a bit.

The financial crisis has "thrown a wrench" in the plan of U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain to balance the budget in his first term, his economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said on Monday.

McCain has pledged to reduce government spending and balance the federal budget by 2013 and has insisted that the current financial crisis will not alter his campaign promises.

"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.

I think the word the kids use is "duh." Of course it's going to be "harder" and will "take longer" to balance the biggest deficits in American history. What bugs me, though, is the constant claims to the contrary. McCain and aides started the campaign vowing to balance the budget in four years.

Then they changed their mind, and said McCain wouldn't balance the budget in four years.

Then they changed their mind again, and said McCain would.

A week later they changed their mind again, and said McCain wouldn't.

At the third presidential debate, McCain changed his mind again, and said he would.

Less than a week later, they've changed their mind yet again, and said he wouldn't.

So, for those keeping score at home, McCain does, doesn't, does, doesn't, does, and doesn't promise voters to eliminate the deficit by 2013.

Remember when McCain considered his straight-talking consistency one of his selling points?

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Sarah Palin is the most qualified Vice President ever!

Posted by: Im John McCain and I approved this message on October 23, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

So, whatever position he subsequently wishes to have taken now, he's all set.

Posted by: Eric on October 23, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The thing about straight talk is that it is not an easy strategy. its hard to pander using the truth, as mccain found out in michigan.

Posted by: Gaucho Politico on October 23, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Where ARE those flip flops from the '04 ReThuglican convention?

Time to dig them out of the closet also.

Posted by: A pitbull would make a better VP even also. That's TWO things. on October 23, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I mean it still could be straight talk..it could just be an accurate reflection that John McCain has no clue what he wants to do and he really does change his mind on a weekly basis.

Posted by: reader on October 23, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

He's consistently inconsistent.

Posted by: John Henry on October 23, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's promise to balance the budget has been a joke and should have been hammered on by anyone interviewing him. What awful reporters we have.

Posted by: HippoRider on October 23, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's followers can pick the version they wish to believe and ignore the rest. That's a mavericky strategy you can believe in!

Posted by: Curtis E. Mayle on October 23, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

For all the accusations that the traditional press is liberal...they're amazingly complicit with McCain's continual pandering. If people knew the extent of his flip-flopping from audience to audiences, he'd be 50 points behind in the polls, not 10.

My favorite, among many, is when McCain tells right-wing bloggers, via a teleconference interview, that he opposes the Dream Act. Then a few weeks later, he tells a Hispanic audience that he supports the Dream Act.

What do we hear about this from the tire swingers? Silence.

(I wonder if Benen is still maintaining the Official John McCain Flip-Flop List over at Carpetbagger.com.)

Posted by: CJ on October 23, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

His flip flops make the Straight Talk Express careen wildly down the highway. But you have to give this: He has been very consistent on never letting the facts get in the way of his story. It would be interesting to see if he was in favor of balancing the budget on the days leading up to the presidential debates. During the most recent debate, he told Brokaw he would balance the budget even though he had just voted for the bailout! Now, one week later, not so much. Whatever is best for his political situation on that particular day is what he will say.

Posted by: QuantumV1 on October 23, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, Mr. Benen.

If McCain keeps turning 180 degrees on these issues, isn't he srtill straight talking?

Forward and back is still, technically speaking, straight.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 23, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

You push the tax cuts in
You pull the tax cuts out
You push the tax cuts in
You do the Hokey Pokey
And you spin yourself around,
That's what it's all about.

Posted by: Former Dan on October 23, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

On a related note, "Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called today for imposing some of the same sorts of regulations on mortgage securities he resisted when he was in office, acknowledging that the current financial crisis had exposed "a flaw" in his view of how the world and markets function." (Washington Post) Again, as the kids say, "Duh."

A logical question might be "Why did we allow them to get away with this for so long, when the logical flaw was exposed around the time the Laffer Curve curved into the toilet?" (For the kids, that was around the middle of Reagan's first term.) The answer is, we didn't. We just couldn't stop them. Appealing to prejudice, fear and bigotry leads directly to bad economic policy, among other things.

I read somewhere today that the Friedmanian, "greed is good" economic theory that Greenspan built his career on was made more plausible by the failure of Keynesian principles in the 70s, resulting in stagflation. I've always thought that was gamed by the Military Industrial Complex in retaliation for losing their cash cow, Vietnam. Look for their inheritors to do the same thing if Obama pulls out of Iraq, imposes sane financial regulations, both or either. Fasten your seat belts, and don't count on the airbags.

Posted by: ericfree on October 23, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

He needs a daisy.

Posted by: jayackroyd on October 23, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Remember 2004 when they labeled you a flip-flopper for far less than that?

Posted by: Rian Mueller on October 23, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

That's GREAT news! unless it isn't. Or is, after all. Or not. Whichever's which.

My friends.

Posted by: on October 23, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK



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