Obama Casts McCain as a Big Spender
By Howard Kurtz
The Ad: (John McCain:) I can't wait to introduce her to the big spenders in Washington.
(Narrator:) Big spenders ... like John McCain. McCain's tax plan means another three trillion in debt. His plan to privatize Social Security -- another trillion. Tax credits sent to insurance companies, yet another trillion. So as we borrow from China to fund his spending spree, ask yourself: Can we afford John McCain?
Analysis: This Barack Obama ad is an attempt to capitalize on the public's anger and unease about the current financial crisis and deflect attention from John McCain's charges that the Illinois senator would boost taxes and federal spending.
The allegation that McCain's tax proposals would add $3 trillion to the national debt is attributed to a group created by the left-leaning Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. The Obama camp attributes the cost estimate on McCain's Social Security plan to a paper by the Center for Budget and Policy Priories, written by none other than Jason Furman, now Obama's economics adviser.
The ad is misleading on that point. The Furman paper analyzes President Bush's unpopular 2005 proposal to allow Social Security recipients to invest part of their savings in the stock market. McCain has not made a detailed proposal. The Obama camp defends the commercial by saying that McCain told the Wall Street Journal in March that he would like to revamp Social Security "along the lines of what President Bush proposed."
Also left unmentioned is that Obama does not promise to eliminate the federal budget during his first term, only to reduce it. So both candidates would continue to borrow heavily to finance current spending.
The ad also manages to remind viewers that the Arizona senator's running mate is Sarah Palin, whose disapproval ratings have been rising in recent polls. The spot opens with a shot of McCain with the Alaska governor, even though the words the viewer hears -- about introducing "her" to the profligate Beltway spenders -- were spoken with Cindy McCain at her husband's side, a scene that briefly appears after the Palin shot.
Posted at 2:42 PM ET on Oct 1, 2008
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