Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John McCain Says Social Security is a “Disgrace”

Hard to imagine, right? Even the most hard-core, anti-Social Security flame throwers in town generally use less inflammatory (and fundamentally flawed) language to describe America’s most popular government program. Why then would Senator McCain go there? Good question.

Now, you might be thinking “he probably didn’t mean what he said...or it was just a slip of the tongue” (honestly, that was our first thought too). However, when a politician delivers basically the same message twice in 24 hours the “he didn’t mean it” theory just doesn’t work. Specifically, here is what Senator McCain has said about Social Security in the past two days, first at his Denver Economic Town Hall on Monday:

“Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed.” John McCain, Denver Economic Town Hall, July 7, 2008
Well...Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system but that’s certainly not news, at least it shouldn’t be to someone who's been in Congress for more than 25 years. And while conservatives do want to fundamentally change the program through privatization, does that really make Social Security an absolute disgrace? Hardly.

Here’s the Senator’s second pass at the same message, pitting young versus old in an attempt to convince us Social Security is broken, this time on CNN.

“On the privatization of accounts, which you just mentioned, I would like to respond to that. I want young workers to be able to, if they choose, to take part of their own money which is their taxes and put it in an account which has their name on it. Now, that's a voluntary thing, it's for younger people, it would not affect any present-day retirees or the system as necessary. So let's describe it for what it is. They pay their taxes and right now their taxes are going to pay the retirement of present-day retirees. That's why it's broken, that's why we can fix it." John McCain, CNN American Morning, July 8, 2008
So, Senator McCain, not just once but twice this week, has objected to the very definition of Social Security. This is a very different argument than what has been posted on his website or presented to the American public during his campaign to date (which has been confusing enough as it is).

Our President, Barbara Kennelly, summed up our reaction this way:

“Since its inception, Social Security has been a pay-as-you-go system. That’s not new and it’s certainly not a disgrace. To suggest that Social Security is fundamentally ‘broken’ because of this fact, shows a lack of understanding of the program, its traditional role and and the need to preserve and strengthen it for the future. Social Security is a successful intergenerational program that has served this country well. If Senator McCain wants to entirely restructure Social Security’s funding, through privatization or some other means, now is the time to say it directly. Calling Social Security a disgrace is anything but straight talk.”...Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now that Senator Mc Cain has said that, could we ask him if he would offer a clear reason for using that wording. If he has a better plan in mind, by all means tell us quick!