Does McCain really believe we are better off now than we were 8 years? Or does he really believe the American people are that stupid? We'll find out in November. (Read the entire transcript):
STEPHANOPOULOS: And on Friday, you conceded that Americans are
not better off than they were eight years ago, but the Democrats are
launching an ad campaign this week where they’re going to try to pin
some comments you made during the primary. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think you could argue that Americans overall are
better off because we have had a pretty good, prosperous time, with
low unemployment, low inflation. A lot of good things have happened,
a lot of jobs have been created. I think we are better off overall.
UNKNOWN: Do you feel better off?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The theme is going to be, and you know it,
you’re out of touch, you just don’t get it. How do you respond?
MCCAIN: Well, I have an economic plan. It’s good. It’s strong.
Things have gotten worse in the last several months, as we all know,
in our economy. Americans are struggling. American families are
sitting around the kitchen table today trying to figure out how
they’re going to keep their home, keep their job. Times are very,
very tough. And the worst thing you can do, the worst thing you can
do is raise taxes. Both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama want to
raise taxes. That’s out of touch. That’s out of touch.
He has to criticize Bush somewhat if McCain is going to win in the Fall:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But we’re not going to have a balanced budget
before you leave office in your first term?
MCCAIN: Well, that still should be a goal, but the goal — the
goal right now is to get the economy going again.
Here’s $100 billion right here for you, George. Two years in a
row, last two years, the president of the United States has signed in
a law, two big-spending, pork-barrel-laden bills worth $35 billion.
That increases the budget, the baseline of the budget. In the years
before that, $65 billion. You do away with those, there’s $100
billion right there, before you look at any agency of government.
How are you going to balance the budget, John:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about that, though. You claim…
MCCAIN: There’s hundreds of billions that can be saved, and
Americans know that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you only claim $60 billion a year from your
earmark reforms. Every other…
MCCAIN: It will be $100 billion when you look at $35 billion in
the last two years and $65 billion in the years before that, and…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But sir, let me finish the point…
MCCAIN: OK, sure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Every other estimate I’ve seen says that the
earmarks are about $18 or $20 billion a year. To get to the $60
you’re talking about — that includes an earmark like the aid to
Israel, $2 billion a year, $1 billion a year for military housing.
You’re not going to cut those.
MCCAIN: I’m going to cut at least that — look…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you cutting aid to Israel?
MCCAIN: Of course not. I’m not cutting…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you cutting military housing?
MCCAIN: No, of course not. I am cutting billions and billions
out of defense spending which are not earmarks. The $400 million ship
that they had to scrap that was supposed to cost $140 million. The
$30 billion, I believe it is, add-on for a system in the Army that’s
going up $30 billion and we still haven’t got any result from it. The
$50 million contract to some buddy of Air Force generals. I mean,
there are so many billions out there just in defense…
STEPHANOPOULOS: To hit your number, you say $160 billion in
discretionary spending. The entire non-defense discretionary budget
is $500 billion a year. That means you’re talking about a 30 percent
cut in every program. Education, veterans benefits…
MCCAIN: I’m talking about looking at every institution of
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’re prepared to (inaudible)?
MCCAIN: I’m talking about changing the way we do business in
STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you prepared to cut 30 percent?
MCCAIN: I am here (ph) to cut hundreds of billions of dollars
out of wasteful and unnecessary spending in America, whether they be
ethanol subsidies, whether they be sugar price supports, whether they
be payments to the wealthiest farmers, whether they be the loopholes
that are out there worth I don’t know how many billions and billions
I guess my critics — and frankly from the tone of your question,
from the tone of your questions — think we’re going to do business as
usual in Washington. We’re not.
MCCAIN: I’m their worst nightmare. I’m their worst nightmare, my friend.