If President Obama is taking policy cues from his general election opponent in 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), he'll have to go further than freeze discretionary spending on non-defense programs.
"Now, because of the huge increases, we not only have to have a freeze but we've got to cut as well," said McCain on Tuesday. "We've increased spending by some 20 percent in the last year."
McCain's proposal of a spending freeze was dismissed by Obama during the presidential campaign. Obama also hammered McCain for proposing a tax on health insurance plans, which he has since adopted.
If Obama's intention in announcing the spending freeze was to placate conservatives, McCain's reaction indicates that the goalposts will continue to be moved down the field.
Asked how it felt to see Obama embrace his spending freeze, McCain paused and laughed. "It is what it is," he eventually said.
McCain had more advice for Obama if the president plans to become a fiscal hawk. "He's going to have to veto any bill that has a pork barrel project if he's serious," suggested McCain.