On Monday the McCain campaign is going to put out a paper promising to balance the federal budget deficit by the end of McCain's first term. Much will be written tomorrow about just how preposterous the budgeting claims are, especially since McCain is also promising a big new round of tax cuts.
But there's one gem I want to zero in on -- this line, as quoted from Mike Allen's piece
just out in The Politico
The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.
How much does he expect those savings are going to come to? Is this a line item in the savings tally?
This has to be one of the better examples of McCain's penchant for policy by slogan seeping out from the campaign trail into actual policy proposals.
McCain's people do realize that there is no budget mark down for 'victory'. Whatever victory's other merits, it is only reductions in expenditures directed (in the broadest sense) toward the war zones that get you actual budget savings.
Is McCain saying that both wars will be over by the end of his first term? And if so, is that victory with all or most of the troops staying on post-victory, as he's implied? Or will they all have left by then? Remember, Adm. Mullen says
we need more troops in Afghanistan to deal with spiraling situation developing there. But we don't have any more because of our commitments in Iraq.
And if his four-year balanced budget promise is premised on rapid victory in both theaters, isn't that sort of arbitrary timelines on steroids?