LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND MCCAIN’S BUDGET…. If elected, John McCain would inherit a budget deficit of about a half-trillion dollars. He would also take office in the midst of a Wall Street bailout that would cost in upwards of another trillion dollars. McCain then wants to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, and keep up the war in Iraq indefinitely.

John Harwood asked McCain on CNBC the other day, “Would you concede, then, that you could not achieve your goal of balancing the budget in your first term with this huge bailout added?” McCain responded, “I believe we can still balance the budget.”

This is, of course, madness. McCain “believing” he can balance this budget in four years is no different than “believing” in magical ponies that McCain can ride to Sanityville.

Contessa Brewer asked Tucker Bounds, McCain’s chief spokesperson to explain how the campaign’s numbers could possibly add up. Bounds couldn’t even begin to answer, so he refused to respond, preferring to attack Barack Obama. (via Yglesias)

It’s a classic of the genre. How can McCain balance the books when his plan clearly intends to do the opposite? Obama wants to increase spending. Why don’t McCain’s numbers add up? McCain has never requested an earmark (a claim that’s an obvious lie, by the way). It’s as if the poor guy can’t do arithmetic and has trouble with English.

Tucker Bounds may be going for some kind of sympathy vote here, hoping the public will feel sorry for him having to go on national television to repeat humiliating talking points.

Either way, that McCain and his campaign are still prepared to tell voters that they can balance the budget in four years tells us all we need to know about the seriousness of the Republican ticket.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.