Wash. Post's Shear reported Democrats criticized McCain's budget plan, but not that nonpartisan analysts dispute its projections
Research ››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH
In an article on Sen. John McCain's proposed plan to balance the budget by 2013, The Washington Post's Michael Shear reported that "Democrats immediately criticized McCain, asserting that his promise is unrealistic, given his stated goals of tax cuts and other government spending." In fact, several economists and nonpartisan analysts have also criticized McCain's plan, reportedly saying that McCain's proposal for numerous tax cuts would bloat the deficit or require huge spending cuts.
In a July 8 Washington Post article headlined "McCain Says He Would Balance Budget by 2013," staff writer Michael D. Shear reported that "Democrats immediately criticized McCain, asserting that his promise is unrealistic, given his stated goals of tax cuts and other government spending." But criticism of McCain's budget plan is not confined to Democrats, as other media outlets noted in reporting on McCain's plan. In contrast to the Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Times all included in their reports the view of fiscal analysts, who said that McCain's plan to balance the budget in four years is unlikely. Moreover, as Media Matters for America previously noted, several economists and nonpartisan analysts have reportedly said that McCain's proposal for numerous tax cuts would bloat the deficit or require huge spending cuts.
In a New York Times article headlined "Skepticism on McCain Plan to Balance Budget by 2013," Robert Pear reported that "economists and fiscal experts" said that "[t]he package of spending and tax cuts proposed by Senator John McCain is unlikely to achieve his goal of balancing the federal budget by 2013." Similarly, The Wall Street Journal reported (subscription required): "Though aides said he pledged to balance the budget within four years, the campaign didn't say how he plans to do this, beyond cutting pork, which many analysts and government watchdogs say is unlikely to get him there."
The AP's Charles Babington and Liz Sidoti wrote that "McCain has given mixed signals in recent months over whether he would make it a priority to balance the budget within four years, a goal that most economists consider to be at odds with McCain's call for continued tax cuts." Similarly, the Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston and Louise Roug reported that "McCain's pledge also defied skepticism among fiscal analysts over whether he could balance the budget even within eight years. ... Many say his proposed expansion of President Bush's tax cuts would put that goal out of reach."
As Media Matters documented, media analyses of McCain's economic plan have noted that economists and nonpartisan analysts say that McCain's proposals will require massive spending cuts or will increase the deficit. Further, the Tax Policy Center -- a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution that describes itself as "made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy" -- estimates that McCain's proposals would cost "about $5.7 trillion over ten years if they could be enacted immediately," or $5.4 trillion if "they don't take effect until October 2009." According to the center, "Cuts this size would pare government back to levels not seen since the Eisenhower administration. In FY 2012, tax revenues would be reduced by about $550 billion compared with current law (with the tax cuts expired). That is roughly equal to CBO's baseline projection for all nondefense discretionary spending." The report concluded:
These estimates make one thing clear. Senator McCain plans a radical downsizing of government. Slashing pork, earmarks, and underperforming programs would offset only a fraction of the revenues. Cuts the size of those he proposes will require slashing discretionary spending and entitlements, and probably even reining in defense spending. Small wonder he has backed away from his earlier pledge to balance the budget -- meaning that these tax cuts, like the ones signed by President Bush, will be paid for by our children.
From Shear's July 8 Washington Post article:
McCain has said he would control the deficit with economic growth and by reducing wasteful spending in the military and in discretionary programs.
Democrats immediately criticized McCain, asserting that his promise is unrealistic, given his stated goals of tax cuts and other government spending. Sen. Barack Obama accused his rival of peddling tired economic policies.
"John McCain's policies are essentially a repeat, a regurgitation of what we've been hearing from the Republican Party over the last two decades, maybe three," he said. "It's part of the reason that we're in the situation that we find ourselves in right now."