McCain: Social Security Is A "Disgrace"

At a Monday townhall, expert economist John McCain on the most successful government program in the history of our country (via Steve Bennen):

"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."

This could ruin him. As most everyone who earns a paycheck knows, young workers pay into the program, and retirees collect the benefit. McCain is saying that Social Security is a disgrace because it works the way it's supposed to.

And as Steve points out:

Keep in mind, however, that McCain made his "total disgrace" comment in a town-hall meeting, with a phalanx of reporters in tow, and not one of them reported on his comments in any way. Literally, zero.

McCain, like Obama, travels everywhere with reporters. All the time. But yet I haven't heard a single cable news anchor mention this story - that McCain called Social Security an "absolute disgrace," have you?

Update [2008-7-9 11:31:32 by Josh Orton]: Here's the video:

Tags: Election 08, John McCain, Social Security (all tags)



Subject is too long *@#%@*

Does anyone have access to Obama campaign conference calls?  Do they actually DO anything?

Because I noticed this at during the primary too - I had intimate details of every "oh he did not say that!" Clinton campaign conference call and it seemed like the Obama camp was totally silent.  It's sort of their job to push this stuff - I mean taking it as a given that the media won't.

by Jess81 2008-07-09 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Subject is too long *@#%@*

More than conference calls, where the heck is the media??? A candidate for president calls social security a disgrace, and if you do a search on Yahoo news search, you can't even find it. Kind of unfortunate the media will report on everything but facts and issues related directly to the campaign.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-09 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Subject is too long *@#%@*

Well if the media doesn't report it there has to be a plan B.  The opposition hands you a gift like that and you do nothing?  What is going on.

By the the time the 6PM "BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH" shows come on, this had better be a story or I'm putting another bullet hole in the tee vee.

by Jess81 2008-07-09 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Subject is too long *@#%@*

The media wants a horse race and it looks like they are going to do what they can to get one.  Hopefully Obama will mention McCain's statement today and maybe the media will have to cover it.

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Subject is too long *@#%@*

He'll mention it, and then we'll have to listen to 18 reporters talk about how out of context it is being taken by Obama, and how Obama flip flopped yet again on something else unrelated that he actually didn't flip flop on. Mark those words.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-09 07:55AM | 0 recs
im a maverick too.

Apparently A-ROD and his cheating ass is the subject dominating the airwaves; its effing disgraceful that  some baseball player's dirty laundry is getting aired all over the place while McCain gets a free pass, again.

[maybe if I keep repeating it over and over again: Im a maverick, Im a maverick; I will get a free pass at insane shit like cussing out authority figures or something. a a maverick.....]

by alyssa chaos 2008-07-09 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Question:

How does this fit into Obama's narrative that the place we are today is a direct consequence of George W. Bush's policies, McCain = Bush III, and I am that agent of change?

by Brad G 2008-07-09 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Question:

It doesn't.  It is just a wicked stupid thing for McCain to say.  We shouldn't look unforced errors by our opposition in  the mouth as it were.  How do you think this can help Obama?

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Question:

I must admit, it is pretty comical how McCain has to mention "staight talk" before actually answering a question, he's like a caricature of himself.

by Dog Chains 2008-07-09 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Question:

Yeah, that "straight talk" should become camp LONG before election day, like "did I mention that I'm the son of a millworker" did.  At least it will if my plans to be dictator of all media come to fruition.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-09 07:59AM | 0 recs
It's the YouTube era

This isn't going away. It's a stunning, inexplicable statement.

by Scan 2008-07-09 07:43AM | 0 recs
No MSNBC attention

They are criticizing Obama for his family's fluff interview, but nothing about this quote or McCain joking about killing the Iranian population with cigarettes.

by magster 2008-07-09 07:58AM | 0 recs
not a single anchor

I haven't heard a single cable news anchor mention this story.

That's because, if they do, their networks' reporters won't get to sit in the front of McBush's plane.

by Beren 2008-07-09 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain: SS Is A "Disgrace"

I think Obama will wiat for the moment to use it.  Once said, McCain can't make it dissappear.  This is the DIGITAL age, where Obama can bring it up in 2 months and then the MSM will HAVE to dig it up and show the news.  He can now get MAXIMUM impact as it is a stored moment, ready to be released as needed.  Better the MSM do NOT report on it, so they can be shown to be the biased pieces of &%$% that they tend to be, worshipping the almighty $$$ instead of doing their job.  (Yeah, I am pissed at their lack-luster work performance.)

This is indeed a whole new era.  I think the MSM will have to change radically.  I think this will be McCain's and the GOP's achilles heel...what you say can and WILL be used against you, at any given time.  The Dems have been nailed on this for years, now it seems to be catching up to the rest and man, I can't wait to hear them SCREAM about how unfair it is... :)

by Hammer1001 2008-07-09 08:06AM | 0 recs
Obama needs to start fighting back

because if he doesn't the media is going to commit a slow political assassination.

by JDF 2008-07-09 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama needs to start fighting back

gift after gift..

obama should be pushing even harder on Iraq's prime minister saying he wants us out!

that's a gift to and takes Iraq and national security off the table

by TarHeel 2008-07-09 08:17AM | 0 recs
An ABSOLUTE Disgrace

It's funny because it looked like a planted question to begin with(the woman appeared rehearsed and disinterested). What this remark from McCain confirms is that he doesn't even know how Social Security works. And if a defined benefits pension plan works this way, then the disgrace comes from the fact that it is not structured like a 401k?

This should be hammered away at over and over again, because McCain's corporate media supporters are already gearing up their excuses for why McCain said this. The very first will be of course that he is taken out of context(while a full viewing of the clip shows that he thinks the concept of how this program works is an 'absolute disgrace'). There will likely be a counter-charge leveled by his corporate media supporters to attempt to deflect the issue off of McCain.  

What will be the next 'absolute disgrace'? School lunch programs for the poor? That takes money from young working people and gives it to people that don't earn it either. Ungrateful brats.

by wengler 2008-07-09 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain:

So much for reality based community. Now we are becoming a reflection of the right wingers by latching on to everything and distorting comments to gain traction. This is so sad. What did McCAin say that i s so terrible? It would be a good idea not to  have SS program as a generational transfer of wealth.

by rocky 2008-07-09 08:12AM | 0 recs
the concept of insurance

is not a disgrace.... that's what Social security is , insurance.

SS has always been the way it is and it's the most successful anti-poverty program of all time.

by TarHeel 2008-07-09 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain:

The terrible thing is that McCain doesn't understand how social security works.  There is this thing called the Social Security Trust Fund with billions and billions of dollars in it.  SS benefits are paid out of this fund.  It has and will continue to have a surplus for a few more decades.  

Basically McCain is lying about social security.  Don't you think that is a legitimate concern for voters?  

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 08:20AM | 0 recs
If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

Guys we don't win with gotcha quotes.

He said its a disgrace that we are having money from the young pay for the old.

He then went on to talk about how do you fix it and the quote cut off.

If his whole point is that the money needs to be invested in something that will bear interest so that you retire on YOUR money and I retire on MY money then that is a statement that most people will get behind.  After all thats how 401ks work.  The problems with SS are precisely because a smaller generation is having to pay for a larger generation who's money wasn't saved but rather spend for the larger generations parents SS.

The average person understands the 100 years in Iraq comment and understand it wasn't a call to 100 years of war and it probably doesn't gain us votes to pretend our fellow American's are "low information voters".  Rather distorting McCain's positions just makes people like me who are on the fence realize once again that Obama is a spin doctor and I can't trust what his disciples say because they are not fundamentally interested in Honesty.

And when I get to thinking like that I remember the Clintons were called racist.

Trust me stick to the facts, don't distort his positions, and have a better platform.

There is no other outcome that will end well.  I call the Bush campaign as witness.

by dtaylor2 2008-07-09 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

You and John McCain don't seem to understand the facts about social security.  I think we can safely ignore your advice about it.  

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

I am the closest thing to the demographic that will decide this election that you have easy access to.

You may not like me personally and thats fine.

But politically you need to be able to talk to people similar to me in our language and understand our point of view.

Saying I don't understand when I do doesn't help you.

I know how SS works as do most Americans.  I also understand that SS is having a financial problem as do most Americans.

Talk about facts in an impartial manner and you can make your case.

Lie about things such as what your opponent said and you need only be caught ONCE and we will never trust you again.

by dtaylor2 2008-07-09 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

Don't make the same mistake many people make.  I don't give a flying fuck  who you vote for.  I am just trying to stop you from spreading misinformation about social security.  The current surplus in the trust fund is going to be around for decades to come.   You and McCain are lying about that.  

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

Only because the government is lying about inflation.

The SS fund is not inflation hedged.

We are looking at 1970s style inflation for at least 5-10 years.

Via the rule of 72, 9% interest doubles your money in ~72/9 years.  By the way this works for any number of interest and gives a pretty accurate est.

Likewise 9% inflation will cut that SS fund in half in ~8 years.

Unless the SS fund is property hedged against inflation SS will go broke.

If generations are the same size say 100 million per generation then the current SS method is a very good hedge against inflation as current payments out should roughly equal current payments in.

But if one generation is 110 million and the next 80 million and the excess is not hedged you end up with 80 million people and invested money equivalent to 30 million people divided by the effects of un-hedged inflation for ~30 years.

In the 1970s cars cost ~$2000 now equivalent cards cost ~$30,000.

Worst case if that money was totally unhedged during that period the 110 million generation would be supported by 80 million and money equivalent to 2 yes TWO million additional people.

the 80+2 generation trying to support the 110  generation is a disgrace.  Especially when the Baby boomers are richer than we will be at retirement.

You may argue my numbers but I think you understand the point I am making which is valid even if the 110 generation didn't put all their money in during the 70s.

by dtaylor2 2008-07-09 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

I think you don't understand Social Security.  It has ALWAYS been a pay as you go program - workers paying FICA currently have always been paying for currently paid benefits - it's been that way since 1939.  So once again, McCain is revealing his ignorance.  

Second, people who work at low or moderate wages their whole lives cannot survive just on their "own" money - that's why Social Security is necessary.  We need a public, redistributive, guaranteed income source in old age - period.  If you think you can survive on your 401(k) in retirement, you're crazy - tell that to someone needing to retire this year and looking at their 401(k) having lost 20 percent of its value since last October.  Ridiculous.

by geordie 2008-07-09 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

I understand how SS CURRENTLY works.  
McCain understands how it currently works.

Proposing change is not always sign of ignorance.

Having a different viewpoint is not always ignorance.

I have a brother on SS disability and I am sold on SS as distribution to some degree.  But understand that a large portion of the swing voters don't need SS in their retirement.

I don't need it.

Why?  Because my parents invested in real estate in the 70s when houses were less than 10% of what they are today In California.  I am heavily into real estate myself and although I don't expect that level of increase I have enough real estate on my own that once its paid off I won't need SS.

If the government was able to invest SS money or even 20% of the money things would be better.  Big generations can save the money not needed to support smaller older generations so that when their time comes they will have the ~9% above inflation that investing has historically delivered.

As it is the baby boomers invested in T bills via displacing borrowing that would have occurred and T bills pay like 2-5% above inflation and Baby boomers got screwed.  Or alternately baby boomers didn't pay as much as they would have if their parents generation was as large as theirs and we younger folk who have to pay their SS got screwed.

Which is likely what McCain was saying.

by dtaylor2 2008-07-09 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: If you forfeit Honesty all is lost.

If the government was able to invest SS money or even 20% of the money things would be better.

Some of us aren't OK with the idea of George Bush investing the SS trust fund in Exxon.  If you don't understand why you might want to google "Enron".            

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain: Social Security - Disgrace

This could ruin him.

I predict it will be about as ruinous for McCain as the following pre-election (2000) statement by George W. Bush was for him:

Because they want the federal government controlling the Social Security like it's some kind of federal program.

Republicans don't have to understand domestic programs. The press will shield them.

The only advantage that I see to be made from this is using it in the context of McCain privatizing Social Security. There it can be part of a theme, and is less likely to be seen as just a slip-up or a misspeaking. If it's treated as him not knowing how Social Security works, the press will protect him as they did Bush.

by joc 2008-07-09 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain: Social Security

I would like to think Obama could take advantage of this - unfortunately, his own advisor on Social Security, Jeff Leibman, is a disciple of Martin Feldstein, has written numerous articles calling for privatization of Social Security, and therefore probably agrees with McCain on this.  I'll be interested to see if Obama actually criticized McCain on his demonstrated lack of understanding of how Social Security works - and, of course, for continuing the 70 year Republican war on Social Security.

by geordie 2008-07-09 08:30AM | 0 recs
Good news!!!

Obama is against privatizing Social Security: LINK

Well let me be clear: privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George W. Bush proposed it. It's a bad idea today. It would eventually cut guaranteed benefits by up to 50%. It would cost a trillion dollars that we don't have to implement on the front end, permanently elevating our debt. And most of all, it would gamble the retirement plans of millions of Americans on the stock market. That's why I stood up against this plan in the Senate, and that's why I won't stand for it as President.

I bet you are wicked happy to find our you were wrong about Obama's stance on privatizing social security.  No need to thank me.  I am glad to help.

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Good news!!!

Oh, please - I know what Obama has said in the campaign.  In fact, that's what I'm banking on - that he's publicly committed to opposing privatization -  and it's why I'm willing to vote for him, despite his very poor choice of economic and social policy advisors (Leibman isn't his only mistake, Austin Goolsbee is another one).  

by geordie 2008-07-09 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Good news!!!

This is your fault.  How was I to know you understood Obama's position opposing SS privatization if you only talk about an adviser of his who you claim has a different opinion?  I think you owe me an apology.

by Blue Neponset 2008-07-09 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Good news!!!

Well, I don't think I said in my original comment that Obama favored privatization - I was talking about the people he takes advice from.  And if it's Leibman on Social Security, than I could see muted enthusiasm for going after McCain on Social Security, given Leibman's own views on the program.

But of course I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding here - let me be clear.  I've heard politicians make promises on the campaign trail before - see, for example, Bill Clinton - only to come back and change position, as Clinton did privately on Social Security.  Thank god for Monica Lewinsky in that instance, as the scandal apparently prevented Clinton from holding hands with Gingrich to go after Social Security.  

So while I'm glad to hear Obama say this publicly, I don't completely trust him on the subject, given who has his ear on Social Security - and Leibman is not to be trusted (and I'm not sure I'm spelling his name right, it might be Liebman - but whatever it is, I don't trust him.)

by geordie 2008-07-09 10:18AM | 0 recs


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