Tuesday, February 06, 2007

McCain the Fiscal Conservative

Novak notes that John McCain was the original crusader against earmarks, and now has added support for tax cuts:

McCain's economic policy chairman is Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office. The senator has reached out to California financier Gerald Parsky, a former assistant Treasury secretary described by McCain as "very important to me." That was also how he labelled supply-side pioneer Laffer, who has been counseling him the past year. McCain's longtime political ally, former Sen. Phil Gramm, advises him frequently. While McCain conceded disagreement among them, "the people that advise me, I guarantee, are very conservative economists."

It is difficult to measure how much transformation of McCain from taxer to tax-cutter has contributed to his fading popularity among Washington's media elite, but the romance is gone. The change, however, has not boosted McCain's stock in Congress, particularly the House. Conservatives justifiably complain about his positions on global warming and campaign finance.

But McCain was fighting congressional earmarks before it was popular, and that has antagonized Republicans in Congress. So do comments like the ones he made to me that Republicans "have spent more and increased the size of government more than at any time since the Great Society." Passing the litmus test on taxes will not make McCain popular with the House GOP elite.

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