Which promise to break?

USA Today‘s Walter Shapiro points out that Kerry’s promise into the camera at last week’s debate ( “I am not going to raise taxes.”) will handcuff any Kerry administration. It begs the question of which promise Kerry will break if he becomes President:

  1. new spending programs on health care, homeland security, and education?
  2. cut the deficit in half in five years?
  3. not raising taxes?

I think most practical folks understand that you can’t do all three. You might not even be able to do two of them. It’s awfully hard to explain how rescinding $87 billion in taxes to small business owners & individuals making over $200,000 is going to pay for $2.2 trillion in new spending and cut the deficit in half.

Kerry’s got two choices – pare everything back (waffle) or break his pledge a al GWB 41 (waffle). But – and you gotta commend him for this – he’s not about to say which ones he’ll honor and which he won’t. Why hasn’t he voiced his choice? Because no one’s asked him.

Update: Mickey Kaus at Slate came to much the same conclusion on Monday, Oct 11: (empahsis shown is Kaus’s)

If I weren’t such an ardent Kerry supporter I might also note that Kerry’s insta-pledge reflected a potentially disastrous instinctive willingness to pander now and waffle later. But it’s getting too close to the election to say things like that.