Tuesday, August 05, 2008

McCain still running away from talking about Social Security, and his own record on it.

It's not often that I feel the need to repost an old post verbatim, but I am doing this now to highlight one of the biggest concerns I have with John McCain: the fact that he is saying virtually nothing about Social Security, one of the biggest domestic issues that we face. In the past two weeks he was asked directly about it, and appeared to contradict himself, first suggesting that he'd be open to raising the limit on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax as one option to make the system solvent, and then reversing himself and saying he'd be against it. That would be all in a day's work for McCain, except that it represents pretty much all he has said about the topic!

So here is the repost of the post that I originally posted on April 19.

McCain has nothing to say about Social Security. But he's already said enough.

In 2005, President Bush introduced a plan to borrow $2 trillion to begin privatizing Social Security. He told us that if Social Security was left as it is now then it would begin running a deficit in 2014 and become insolvent by 2042.

Well, that failed. The President was actually completely correct about the crisis that Social Security is facing, but his solution to privatize the system would have done little to prevent its impending collapse while putting at risk the retirement income of millions of people.

So how does the man who wants to succeed him as Republican nominee and President feel about the issue?

Well, I went to John McCain's website and in his 'search this site' button I typed in, "social security" (quotated so you don't get a bunch of junk about social programs and national security) and

what I get is:

"No documents were found."

Frankly it is frightening that a man who wants to be President of the United States has so little to say about Social Security that the two words don't appear together even one time on his website.

Luckily though there is a record of what he thinks.

On April 1, 1998 he voted, "Yes" to Senate concurrent resolution 86 which would have set up private accounts using the then-surplus.

And in the New York Times on January 11, 2000, an article about McCain's plans for Social Security said:

    "McCain will present today his first comprehensive plan for apportioning the spoils of the nation’s current prosperity, calling for. a program to shore up Social Security through the establishment of individual retirement accounts. McCain also specifically allocates money to help Medicare, which like Social Security faces a financial shortfall as the population ages. He calls for workers to have the option of investing at least 20% of their Social Security payroll taxes in private accounts."

In a 1999 Fox News interview McCain was quoted as saying,

    "Allow people to invest part of their taxes earmarked for Social Security to investment, in investments of their choice. I am convinced that that will make the Social Security system solvent."

In 2005, McCain supported the Bush initiative.

In a GOP debate in Orlando, Florida on October 21, 2007, he was quoted as saying

    "It's got to be bipartisan. And you have to go to the American people and say we won't raise your taxes. We need personal savings accounts, but we got to fix this system."

He wants it to be bipartisan, and his language is a bit more nuanced, but it's clear that he still hasn't given up on privatization.

Now I know why he hasn't said anything at all this year about Social Security. If he hadn't thought about such a major issue, I'd question his qualifications to be President. But he's thought plenty about it, and he appears to agree with President Bush on it. So I'm not questioning whether he's qualified, but rather I'm questioning whether his failure to put in on his website is because he knows darn good and well that many people would view his plans as extreme, as well they should.

It is probably also worth noting that if you go his list of 'pick an issue,' Social Security is not an option on that menu either.

It is indeed troubling to me that a man who wants to be President of the United States has so little to say about such a crucial issue.

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