As I was saying, the McCain plan is not so much a plan as a rhetorical fog. I can understand setting a deficit reduction goal, but a “plan” should articulate how you get there under reasonable assumptions. Here’s the Post editorial.
SEN. JOHN McCain says that President McCain would balance the federal budget by 2013. The plan is not credible.
The Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of $443 billion in 2013 if President Bush’s tax cuts are extended, as Mr. McCain wants, and the alternative minimum tax is merely patched to make certain it does not hit growing numbers of taxpayers. But Mr. McCain is proposing far more tax cuts. The only way he avoids having them add hundreds of billions more to the deficit in 2013 is by phasing them in and adding other caveats.
The McCain campaign says it will fill the hole with spending cuts. It would “reclaim billions” by rooting out existing earmarks and prohibiting new ones; impose a one-year freeze on discretionary spending other than for defense and veterans; and “reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations” to use toward deficit reduction. These claimed savings are illusory.
In any event, Mr. McCain has called for billions more in new spending: increasing the size of the military, launching a new energy independence project, fully funding the No Child Left Behind law. Where’s the savings?
Mr. McCain’s campaign says that he would rein in the growth of entitlement spending, saving another $160 billion, but it does not explain how. His campaign cites “excessive agricultural and ethanol subsidies,” but eliminating all farm subsidies would trim less than $15 billion in 2013.
Mr. McCain sells American voters short — and he does himself a disservice — with his implausible claim.