WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is promising to veto bills that contain so-called pork barrel projects, balance the federal budget and work to fix Social Security and Medicare if elected.
"'No' is always the right answer to wasteful spending," the Arizona senator says in a speech he is to give Monday in Memphis, Tenn., according to excerpts from his campaign.
In the second of three policy speeches intended to reinvigorate his campaign, McCain assails Democratic leaders in Congress for trying to use a bill intended to pay for the Iraq war to set a deadline to withdraw troops.
He says Democrats didn't persuade lawmakers to side with them based on the merits of their proposal. Instead, he says: "They bought them. They took the lid off the pork barrel, and said to wavering members 'help yourself, there's plenty more where that came from."'
Long an opponent of funding lawmakers' pet projects, McCain calls for the president to be able to veto portions of bills.
However, he says, if Congress fails to approve line-item veto power, "Give me the pen, and I'll veto every single pork barrel bill Congress sends me, and if they keep sending them to me, I'll use the bully pulpit to make the people who are wasting your money famous."
He also promises that he won't leave office without balancing the federal budget. He says he'll do it by spending less and encouraging economic growth - not allowing President Bush's tax cuts to expire.
McCain opposed Bush's tax cuts but now advocates extending them.
He says that doing otherwise would amount to a tax increase.
"The best way to protect the tax cuts and balance the budget is to stop spending money on things that are not the business of government and on programs that have outlived their usefulness or were never useful to begin with," McCain says.
In addition, the Republican says he'll work with Democrats in the House and Senate to fix the Social Security and Medicare systems. "If Congress is afraid to make those choices, then they can just let me do it," McCain says.