DNC - Senator McCain Blasted Over Social Security Comments

Washington, DC - In a conference call today, experts and advocates for America's seniors and working families blasted John McCain for saying that the way Social Security is funded, the very essence of the program, is a disgrace and for his support for President Bush's privatization scheme. AFSCME International President Gerald McEntee, Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL), Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director Dean Baker, and the President of the Alliance of Retired Americans Ed Coyle joined the DNC's Brad Woodhouse on the call to hold McCain accountable for those comments and his out of touch and reckless approach to the retirement security of millions of Americans.

As part of this week's "relaunch" of his campaign, Senator McCain has claimed he would balance the budget by reigning in entitlement spending, which would mean slashing Social Security benefits for millions of seniors, survivors and people with disabilities. McCain even said he believed the program as it was originally conceived more than 70 years ago is an "absolute disgrace" during the kickoff of his tour in Denver this week. Moreover, McCain has consistently been one of the strongest supporters of President Bush's risky scheme to privatize Social Security, which would turn it from a guarantee into a gamble and blow a whole in the national debt with $1 trillion in transition costs.

To listen to audio of the call, click on the link below:


Below are excerpts of the call:

Gerald McEntee, President of AFSCME (1:37)

"Senator McCain's comment in Denver is yet another example that he is out of touch, way out of touch. He has no idea with what America's working families are up against every day. It is a disgrace. After being in the United States Congress for close to 30 years, John McCain doesn't understand how the Social Security system works. It's always been 'pay as you go' with today's workers paying for today's retirees. What's a disgrace is, that this is news to John McCain. Working Americans understand that Social Security is the contract between the generations of Americans. It has served our country well since FDR signed it into law. But multimillionaires like John McCain and George W. Bush could care less. What they want to do is privatize it. Destroying a system that works, to benefit the wealthy folks who bankroll their campaigns. John McCain admits that he doesn't know a lot about the economy. Now we know he doesn't know a lot about social security either."

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) (4:18)

"I'm running out of fingers and toes to count the number of times now that John McCain is aligning himself with the policies of George W. Bush...

"In the state of Florida we are being squeezed; property insurance, health care costs, gas prices, and you're telling me now that John McCain is going to take the safety net out from below Americans and hardworking families and seniors that put so many years into their jobs and their families? It's a real shame."

Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (8:48)

"...the projections show Social Security will be there as long as we want it to be. It's basically in very very sound shape. Now the other thing that's very scary is he seems not to have known what's happened in the economy. We just had a housing crash. And this is particularly scary for people who are approaching retirement. We just did an analysis of the federal reserve board survey of consumer finance and we looked at what happened to the wealth of younger baby boomers, people who are between the ages of 45 and 54, so they're approaching retirement, not quite there yet, but in many cases just 2, 3, 4 years from retirement. And we found that because of the housing crash, that they lost more than one third of their wealth from 2004 to 2008. So you're looking at people that, if you take the median, a middle-income family in that 45-54 age group, they're gonna have less than 100,000 in wealth accumulated at the point where they're aged 54. That's not a very good situation to be in. This is a middle-income famiy, so we're not talking about poor people, middle income families are going to be approaching retirement with less than 100,000 in wealth other than their social security. So here we have Senator McCain saying he wants to privatize Social Security for people that have just seen much of their wealth evaporate."

Ed Coyle, President of Alliance of Retired Americans (12:18)

"I really think that this is one of the more insensitive anti-senior comments that I've ever heard a presidential candidate make. Certainly the 42 million people in the country who are beneficiaries in one form or another of Social Security are going to be quite surprised to know that one of the major candidates for president thinks the program is a disgrace. In fact in Senator McCain's own state of Arizona almost a million people are recipients in one form or another of social security including 73,000 children, and 130,000 disabled workers, not to mention all the folks who have worked hard all their lives and now are enjoying some sort of a social security retirement check every month."