McCain will Ax Earmarks, Not Spending

John McCain’s largest plank in his reform platform is the elimination of earmarks. As any politician does, he says one thing and then does another. I read an article recently that combs through the numbers of McCain’s proposals. The column is from the New Republic and can be read here.

But here is the part you need to know:

“McCain is promising to cut taxes by $300 billion per year on top of the Bush tax cuts, which he would make permanent. In addition to this, he promises to balance the budget in his first term. When asked how he could possibly pull this off, McCain has asserted that he could eliminate all earmark spending, saving $100 billion per year.

I don’t find this explanation persuasive. The first point I’d make is that $100 billion is, in fact, less than $300 billion. The second point I’d make is that McCain won’t even cut $100 billion, or anywhere close. By conventional measures, earmarks only account for $18 billion per year. McCain gets his number by employing an unusually broad definition of what constitutes an earmark. McCain’s definition includes things like aid to Israel and housing for members of the military that are not “pork” as the term is understood. When asked if he would eliminate those programs, he replied, “Of course not.”

So we’re left with a pot of money closer to $18 billion. And McCain surely won’t eliminate even that. He has frequently found himself campaigning at places funded by federal earmarks and beloved by the local citizenry, and he keeps inadvertently showing how impossible it is to fulfill his promises. Last month, McCain visited a hospital in Pennsylvania and met an ovarian cancer patient who’s being treated with a clinical trial program funded by an earmark. Asked if he would eliminate that program, he replied, “It’s the process I object to. … When you earmark in the middle of the night, you have no budgetary constraints.”

Get The Libertarian AuroraA daily newsletter for libertarians.

Please fill in the form and submit to subscribe to emails We Are Libertarians.

Chris Spangle is the publisher and editor of We Are Libertarians, a news site and podcast that covers national and Indiana politics from the libertarian perspective. Spangle previously worked in marketing for the Englehart Group on behalf of the Advocates for Self-Government. He also served as the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana and producer of the Abdul in the Morning Show. He now works as the web director of a nationally syndicated morning show.

Further reading

Lindsey: Your Racism is Showing

This article originally appeared on the blog of Heretic, the magazine of We Are Libertarians. To those of you who are more upset about the incidents...

Archives

Categories