Former McCain Adviser Admits Bailout Support a Strategic Blunder
As it turns out, swaying from conservative principles doesnât always pay off for a Republican presidential candidate. Sen. John McCain learned that lesson that hard way.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a senior policy adviser to McCainâs failed campaign, said Nov. 19 that McCainâs support for the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector was the âkey strategic policy error of the entire campaign.â
âWe also make mistakes,â Holtz-Eakin told a group of conservatives at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. âThereâs no doubt about it--20/20 hindsight. I think the key strategic policy error of the entire campaign, that is mine, is believing that the bailout bill would help.â
Both McCain and President-elect Barack Obama voted for the bill, which has taken on a different role since being promoted as a measure that would have given the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to purchase the troubled assets thought to be behind the current financial crisis.
Holtz-Eakin said it was a move of desperation because the campaign was taking a lot of criticism for not being more proactive at the time.
âFinancial markets were falling apart,â Holtz-Eakin said. âWe were in a terrible position as a campaign in trying to figure out whether to continue to just take hits--which we were--or to try to do something about it when the bailout bill was stalled. We elected to go do something about it. It didnât pay off as a campaign largely because getting that bill through was not helpful.â
He advised the audience, which included several economists and policy analysts, to evaluate the strategy if confronted with having to choose between politics or core policy beliefs.
âIf anyone is ever in a comparable position before us, take the time--or again in the future, take the time to step back and ask, âIs this a good policy move? Will it really help?ââ he said.
The bailout legislation, which was promoted by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as a do-or-die vote, has been roundly criticized by Republican members of Congress. Holtz-Eakin explained this bill was something McCain normally wouldnât have supported.
âThat was the key strategic error that we really made,â Holtz-Eakin added. âHad we stayed away from
Holtz-Eakin did bring credentials to the McCain campaign, having served as the former director of the Congressional Budget Office and as an economist for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.