Tell us how you really feel about Social Security, John McCain

On Thursday the candidate said he had "never" supported privatization. Did he forget his vote for George Bush's Social Security plan?

Published June 13, 2008 1:21PM (EDT)

John McCain, Thursday, June 12, (as caught by Cliff Schecter):

"I am not for privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be."

John McCain, Nov. 18, 2004:

Without privatization, I don’t see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits."

And if that isn't enough, Mark Thoma notes that John McCain voted for George Bush's 2006 Social Security Plan.

McCain's campaign Web site states that he "supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts -- but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept." According to a Web site operated by the AFL-CIO, Working Families 2008, he told the Wall Street Journal in March that he was "totally in favor of personal savings accounts… As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed."

Maybe McCain will attempt to make the semantic case that "supplementing" Social Security with private savings accounts is not the same as "privatizing" social security? Possibly. But there's still a big gap between voting for Bush's Social Security plan, which turned out to be hugely unpopular with the general public, and declaring flatly "I am not for privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be."

This kind of "curvy talk" makes it almost too easy for Obama -- and he's not wasting any time: He'll be taking a whack at McCain on Social Security later today, according to prepared remarks released by his campaign.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Globalization How The World Works John Mccain R-ariz.