Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Most Positive Thing I have Heard In A While

One point for JM

Source: Bloomberg

McCain Embraces Deficit Critic Walker as Truth Teller (Update1)

2008-08-06 15:28:43.650 (New York)

(Adds Walker comments starting in third paragraph. For a special report on the campaign, see {ELEC }.)

By Lorraine Woellert

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- John McCain said that if elected president he would tap former U.S. Comptroller David Walker to help balance the federal budget, calling the deficit hawk someone who could help convey the ``truth'' to the public.

``He is the most articulate person on this issue of the debt that we've laid on future generations of Americans,'' McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, said last night. ``We've got to communicate more directly to the American people and tell them the truth.''

According to Walker, who has been traveling the country this year on a ``fiscal wake-up tour'' to sound the alarm about runaway federal spending, neither McCain nor Democratic rival Barack Obama has made deficit reduction a priority.

``Neither one of them has really addressed the issue of fiscal discipline,'' Walker said in a phone interview last night.

He said he has talked with both candidates' fiscal advisers and is politically neutral.

``What is pretty clear is that the math doesn't work for both,'' Walker said in a July 21 interview. ``Neither has a plan to get us out of this hole.''

Telephone Town Hall

McCain's embrace of Walker came in response to a question during a ``telephone town-hall'' meeting with Pennsylvania voters. The Arizona senator took questions from a hotel in Huntington, West Virginia. The caller said he was concerned about Social Security and Medicare and asked whether McCain would be ``up to bringing in someone like David Walker,'' who also headed the Government Accountability Office.

``It's funny you mention David Walker,'' McCain said. ``I'm not a friend of his or anything, but I saw his great work when he was head of the GAO.''

Walker, an assistant secretary of Labor in the Reagan administration, was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 to lead the GAO. A celebrity among fiscal conservatives, he left government to lead the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which helps fund the nonpartisan Concord Coalition, a deficit watchdog group.

McCain, 71, and Obama, 47, both bill themselves as fiscal disciplinarians. With the White House forecasting a record $482 billion budget deficit next year, analysts say neither candidate has a plan to control runaway federal spending.

Both candidates now must show they are making deficit reduction a priority, Walker says.

Mandate Needed

``While I don't think it's realistic for them to be too specific about what they need to do, I do think it's important that they talk about the issues enough to have a mandate if elected,'' he said last night.

McCain's tax cuts alone would increase the debt by $5 trillion by 2018, compared with $3.4 trillion for Obama, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group.

Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby said Walker would be an asset to an administration trying to cut spending.

``David would be a good man for the job. The question would be whether anyone would listen to what he would say,'' Bixby said in an interview. ``The question is whether McCain is ready to address those key imbalances in our economy and our budget.''

McCain last night said he would ``argue that we need some other people'' to help address budget woes, and he mentioned former e-Bay Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, one of the Republican Party's top fundraisers, as examples. Both women are advisers to his campaign.

``We need to go out and tell the American people the truth, that we've got to stop handing off these burdens to the next generation of Americans,'' McCain said. ``It's not America. It's some kind of selfishness that I don't believe Americans know we are practicing.''

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