A McCain economic advisor goes way off-message

Martin Feldstein says it's time for the government to start spending like mad. So maybe Mr. "Spending Freeze" is the wrong guy for the job?

By Andrew Leonard
Published October 31, 2008 4:59PM (EDT)

Here is a definitive reason why John McCain is the wrong choice for President, right now, provided by one of McCain's own economic advisors, Martin Feldstein.

Martin Feldstein has impeccable conservative credentials. He was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Ronald Reagan. He is as opposed to raising taxes as any supply-sider could be. But on Wednesday, he wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post advocating a massive economic stimulus plan. There's no time to wait, he wrote. Whoever wins the election will still be a current senator who can immediately propose legislation.

This line, in particular, jumped out:

The president-elect should focus on developing a mechanism for identifying and funding spending initiatives that can occur quickly and that would otherwise not be done.

Now let's recall McCain's answer to the very first question at the first debate: How would you deal with the financial crisis?

How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs?

His answer was no accident. He's spent his entire career in the Senate lambasting government spending. And just this morning McCain told Larry Kudlow on CNBC that one of the ways he would restore health to the stock market would be to "cut spending."

When even Martin Feldstein is calling for a massive government stimulus to the economy right now, including significant investment in infrastructure to create jobs and stimulate demand, then the candidate who campaigns on a platform of cutting government spending and instituting a spending freeze is clearly the wrong man for the job.

I hope that's finally clear.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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