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McCain Campaign Tries To Reconcile Contradictory Positions On Deficit

Reported by Ellen - November 2, 2008 -

John McCain economic advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin visited Hannity & Colmes last night (11/1/08) to attack Barack Obama's economic plan. But he was clearly flummoxed when asked by Alan Colmes to explain whether or not Sarah Palin was being truthful when she promised that a McCain/Palin administration would balance the federal budget by the end of their first term. With video.

“What you have is a disaster for the economy,” Holtz-Eakin told Sean Hannity in a typical example of the kinds of things said about Obama throughout the show.

Next, it was Alan Colmes' turn. Colmes asked about Sarah Palin's recent promise on the campaign trail that a McCain/Palin administration would balance the federal budget by the end of the first term. Colmes noted that Holtz-Eakin had just recently told Neil Cavuto that that would not be possible. “Is (Palin) lying to the American people when she says that?” Colmes asked.

First, Holtz-Eakin tried to wriggle out of the question. “She is expressing exactly the right goal. We should balance this budget... The American people deserve a promise.” Then Holtz-Eakin launched into an attack on Obama.

But Colmes pressed. Holtz-Eakin then claimed that it would be possible if Congress co-operated. He indicated that would not be likely, implying that any failure to balance a budget would be their fault.

“You're already blaming Congress,” Colmes said, and read Holtz-Eakin's quote agreeing with Cavuto that it would be impossible to balance the budget.

“That's not exactly what I said,” Holtz-Eakin replied. “I said, 'It's going to be very difficult if we don't get the kind of cooperation out of the Congress we need.' Same point I'm making to you.”

Actually, it was not the same point at all. Holtz-Eakin said nothing about Congress to Cavuto. Holtz-Eakin told Cavuto that McCain/Palin had had a workable plan to balance the budget but that the financial meltdown and bailout package now made it impossible.

That conversation between Cavuto and Holtz-Eakin occurred just a few days ago. But when pressed last night, Holtz-Eakin now argued that a balanced budget was quite doable. “The recipe's very simple,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Number One, you have to restore the trust of the American people that their money's being used wisely. That's the earmark battle. The earmark battle's not about the dollars.”

Number two, according to Holtz-Eakin, is to “get serious” about wasteful and duplicative programs.

Number three, reform of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“And then, you'll not only get the budget to balance but you'll keep it balanced and that's what we owe our children,” Holtz-Eakin said.

Colmes questioned whether all that could be done in four years.

Holtz-Eakin dodged again, “Let's do it in three with the right effort."