A campaign blog.
May 16 2008 6:44 PM


While national security issues have gobbled up most news space over the past week, a couple of harsh analyses of John McCain’s economic plan have sailed under the radar.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund* released a study yesterday concluding that McCain’s plan would create a cumulative debt of $12.7 trillion by 2017—the highest debt since 1951. Corporate tax cuts, a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax, and an extension of the Bush tax cuts—all staples of the McCain plan—would cost significantly more than the senator’s proposed earmarks cuts and discretionary spending freeze would provide, the study argues. (PDF here .)


Also this week, calls McCain’s suggestion that he can balance the budget while extending Bush’s tax cuts "dubious at best." The main problem: Getting rid of earmarks doesn’t mean the money won’t get spent. It just means it doesn’t happen in the form of earmarks. As the writers phrase it, "earmarks often simply tell agencies how to spend money that they are already getting." And when it comes to discretionary spending, McCain hasn’t detailed what areas he would cut. He says he would exempt military spending, so that’s out. And because the nondefense budget is only $540 billion, he would still have to convince Congress to "slash 18.5 percent of the funding for everything else in the discretionary budget— things like veterans' health benefits, highway construction, elementary and secondary education, and immigration services."

McCain’s economic plan has its defenders . But neither they nor the McCain campaign has produced numbers to back up the budget-balancing claims. (At least not that I’ve seen.) The argument seems to be that cutting taxes raises revenues, but even McCain’s own senior policy adviser has rejected that claim in the past. Spokesman Brian Rogers dismissed the CAP study as coming from "a left-wing Democratic front group" but did not provide alternative figures. "The fact that they falsely criticize Sen. McCain’s policy proposals is unfortunate, but it’s hardly surprising," he wrote in an e-mail.

* Clarification: We originally credited the Center for American Progress. In fact, it's the Action Fund, the center's 501(c)(4) sister affiliate, that published the report.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Syria’s “Moderate” Rebels Are Realizing That U.S. Airstrikes Help Bashar al-Assad, Not Them
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.