Saturday, September 13, 2008

Greenspan: Country can't afford McCain's tax cuts

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By GLEN JOHNSON , Associated Press

Alan Greenspan says the country can't afford tax cuts of the magnitude proposed by Republican presidential contender John McCain — at least not without a corresponding reduction in government spending.

"Unless we cut spending, no," the former Federal Reserve chairman said Friday when asked about McCain's proposed tax cuts, pegged in some estimates at $3.3 trillion.

"I'm not in favor of financing tax cuts with borrowed money," Greenspan said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. "I always have tied tax cuts to spending."

McCain has said that he would offset his proposed cuts — including reducing the corporate tax rate and eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax that has plagued middle-class families — by ending congressional pork-barrel spending, unnecessary government programs and overhauling entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats pounced on Greenspan's comments, in part because McCain professed last year that he was weaker on economics than foreign affairs and was reading Greenspan's memoir, "The Age of Turbulence," to educate himself.

"Obviously he needs to go back to that book and study it some more," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said during a conference call arranged by the campaign of Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

McCaskill said eliminating congressional earmark spending — estimated at $17 billion annually — cannot offset McCain's proposed tax cuts.

"That's a huge amount of money, but it's not even a drop in the bucket to pay for $3.5 trillion in tax cuts," she said. "So, every time he throws up earmarks and he's asked how he's going to pay for it, he knows he's being disingenuous, he knows he's not being forthcoming."

McCain campaign officials dispute the $3.3 trillion figure, saying it assumes eliminating 2003 tax cuts made by the Bush administration and then cutting from that higher level. They say McCain is proposing tax cuts worth $600 billion from current levels.

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