McCain, Obama advisers clash on budget
The financial crisis has "thrown a wrench" in the plan of 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, reports Reuters.
"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.
Austan Goolsbee, who advises Democratic candidate Barack Obama, said McCain had consistently called for balancing the budget without explaining how he would do so.
"We have a $500 billion deficit and John McCain's tax plan alone would almost double the deficit," Goolsbee said.
"So even before the financial crisis you had John McCain creating steady state deficits of pushing on $1 trillion. So I keep asking: 'Which $1 trillion of the budget would you cut to balance the budget?'" he said.
Goolsbee said McCain's pledge to eliminate earmark spending would cut at most $18 billion while a proposed McCain spending freeze would save another $18 billion, leaving $970 billion.
Holtz-Eakin said that while cutting earmarks would only save $18 billion, it was vital to do so because "earmarks corrupt the process" and hampered the ability of Congress to deal with larger issues such as Medicare and Social Security.