The last eight years have seen the national debt go from $5,6 trillion to $9.1 trillion and unfunded future liabilities soar by $32 trillion - and all three viable future presidents have no plans to do anything serious about it. All three violate core fiscal conservatism in different ways: Obama and Clinton by promising big new healthcare programs and McCain by peddling the kind of maximalist supply-side fantasies that he once had the good sense to reject. According to the CBO, McCain's plan is the most fiscally damaging:
Mr. McCain’s plan would appear to result in the biggest jump in the deficit, independent analyses based on Congressional Budget Office figures suggest. A calculation done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington found that his tax and budget plans, if enacted as proposed, would add at least $5.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
Fiscal monitors say it is harder to compute the effect of the Democratic candidates’ measures because they are more intricate. They estimate that, even taking into account that there are some differences between the proposals by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, the impact of either on the deficit would be less than one-third that of the McCain plan.
It seems to me to be fair to call those who would ratchet up the debt "left-wing." If you still believe, as I do, that conservatism is about balancing the budget, then McCain is the least conservative of all three candidates. He is fiscally the furthest left out there. Given his past record, this is a crying shame, but an indicator that in the battle between Republican extremism and McCain, McCain has already forfeited one critical battle. Fiscally, he belongs to the party of the left. And it's time fiscal conservatives started to call him on it.