McCain is against social insurance programs. He thinks that the way Social Security was designed to operate and has operated since its creation is a “disgrace.”
At a town hall meeting on Monday, McCain said:
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.
OK, let’s take a deep breath here. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Current workers pay into the system to provide benefits for retirees, and when those workers retire, the next generation will pay their benefits. That’s what Social Security is. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s always worked.
If McCain wants to argue that privatization is a good idea, fine. He’s wrong, but we can have the debate (again). But it appears that McCain is desperately in need of some kind of remedial Government 101 education, because he literally described the Social Security system as a “total disgrace.”
At this point, John McCain is starting to make George W. Bush look like a sophisticated policy wonk.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe McCain just slipped up. He was tired and said something he didn’t mean to say. This couldn’t possibly reflect his feelings on the Social Security system. He knows he’d lose Florida if it got out that he considers the system a “total disgrace.”
But it’s true. Here’s how he talked about Social Security on CNN yesterday morning:
“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.” [emphasis added]
It’s literally breathtaking. As Nick Baumann put it, “McCain is saying, again, that the problem with Social Security is that Social Security is Social Security, instead of something else.”