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September 08, 2008

McCain: I was against it... before I was for it [updated]
Posted by Shawn Brimley

So McCain attacked Obama today on military spending, questioning the Democratic candidate's stance on increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps. This from CNN:

Of course, now he wants to increase it,” McCain told an audience in Lee’s Summit, Missouri Monday. “But during the primary he told a liberal advocacy group that he’d cut defense spending by tens of billions of dollars. He promised them he would, quote, ‘slow our development of future combat systems.’”

There are two problems with this.

First, "future combat systems" or FCS is a very large Army vehicle procurement program that has absolutely nothing to do the endstrength of the Army or Marine Corps. It is by far the biggest item in the Army's procurement budget at $160 billion and has been heavily scrutinized by the GAO and others for years.

Second, and more importantly, John McCain himself has quite a long history of criticizing the FCS program.

In 2005, McCain pushed hard for revisions to the FCS contract: "I am concerned that the Army has not adequately protected taxpayers’ interests." At a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing that March, McCain grilled Army officials about FCS. "We need to have a hearing on it," McCain told Inside the Army.

And to top it all off, less than 2 MONTHS AGO, the McCain campaign's senior economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, briefed the Washington Post's editorial board on their budget plan, which included a commitment to:

"...slowing outlay growth to 2.4 percent. The roughly $470 billion dollars (by 2013) in slower spending growth come from reduced deployments abroad ($150 billion; consistent with success in Iraq/Afghanistan that permits deployments to be cut by half -- hopefully more), slower discretionary spending in non-defense and Pentagon procurements ($160 billion; there are lots of procurements -- airborne laser, Globemaster, Future Combat System -- that should be ended and the entire Pentagon budget should be scrubbed) and reductions in mandatory spending ($160 billion) from a mix of excessive agricultural and ethanol subsidies, slower health care cost growth, Medicaid savings from the expansion of private insurance, and other reforms." [Thanks to TW!]

So who's the flip-flopper here?


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It's pretty clear that he's just making these points on the assumption that his audiences don't know that "Future Combat Systems" is a specific program, rather than the sum of all our future combat expenditures. He knows that his audience will interpret his statement as accusing Obama of gutting the military, but if pressed, he can claim that he was just referring to the specific program.

I wonder if "Future Combat Systems" is capitalized in the official versions of his speech?

Worth noting, just 2 months ago McCain's top budget advisor pointed to ending the FCS program as one of the lynchpins of his 'plan' to pay for his tax cuts ( Which i guess begs the question, now where does McCain think he's going to come up with $160 billion in defense procurement cuts? Or is he flip-flopping on that promise, too?

BTW, this false attack line has been percolating through right-wing emails for months. i had to correct one of my wife's aunts on this back in July.

Wow, excellent summary Brimley. It seems McCain will say anything to be elected, even when it comes to boondoggle programs like FCS that he's spent most of his Senate career fighting.

Great find on the article from two months ago TW.

Wow, excellent summary Brimley

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