IT HAS THE ADDED BENEFIT OF BEING TRUE…. On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — a frequent guest — to weigh in on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget “roadmap.” Specifically, Wallace asked, “Do you support the idea of allowing those under 55 — not talking about people near retirement now — allowing people under 55 to put up to a third of their payroll taxes in private accounts?”
The senator replied:
“Frankly, I haven’t examined that particular issue and that detail, but everybody knows — all Americans know that we’re going to have to fix Social Security and Medicare.
“And I notice that the Democrats are focusing in. They’ve rolled out that tired old golden oldie that Republicans are going to destroy Social Security…. Look, we need to sit down and we need to do as Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did and come up with a solution. We all know we need to do that, but I can’t specific — endorse a specific proposal.”
When McCain says he hasn’t studied “that particular issue,” I’m going to hope he means Paul Ryan’s budget plan, not Social Security.
But what’s striking is McCain simply pretending that Democratic criticisms are baseless. I’m not sure how well the senator keeps up on current events, but Democrats have “rolled out” the message about Republicans attacking Social Security because … Republicans are attacking Social Security.
Whether it’s a “golden oldie” isn’t especially relevant here — the duration of the GOP campaign against Social Security isn’t as important as its existence. And this year, we have more opponents of the bedrock American institution running for key offices than at any time in recent history. Indeed, it’s been hard to keep track of them all — Nevada’s Sharron Angle, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Colorado’s Ken Buck, Alaska’s Joe Miller, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey have endorsed privatizing the Social Security system, and some have gone so far as to insist that the program itself is unconstitutional.
McCain “notices that the Democrats are focusing in.” How perceptive of him. What he hasn’t noticed, however, is that the Dems’ message happens to be true.
Postscript: As for McCain’s insistence that entitlement issues can be fixed by “sitting down” and “coming up with a solution,” this is yet another example of the “head-knocking style of governance.” It’s a lazy way to address policy disputes, and it doesn’t work.