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McCain: I Was Against It (Before I was for It)

10/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So McCain attacked Obama yesterday 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 end strength 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 the program.

And to top it all off, less than two 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."

So who's the flip-flopper here?