Today marks the 73rd birthday of the single most successful government program in the history of our country, Social Security. As such, it is rightfully being honored by the Alliance for Retired Americans (AAR) at events all across Wisconsin. They will be holding noon events in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison. AAR is the same organization that was very quick to respond to U.S. Senator John McCain when he called Social Security ‘a disgrace.’ They followed up their initial reaction by calling on McCain to return his own check if it is such ‘a disgrace’ and then ran both a web and TV ad highlighting the issue. Here is the actual McCain quote:
‘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.’ -John McCain, July 8, 2008 town hall
When John McCain made those unfortunate comments, he once again revealed just how out of touch he really is on many issues. Most people that earn a paycheck for a living already know that they are paying into the program and that present retirees collect the benefit. So is McCain really suggesting that most people don’t already know that? Maybe it was news to him but most working people are already aware of how the system works and how it will continue to work for them when they retire. Even more troubling, doesn’t this mean that McCain feels that Social Security is a disgrace because it is working exactly the way it’s supposed to?
Even though McCain has been very slippery on the bad idea of privatizing Social Security, his words on July 8 seem to speak his real thoughts. Unfortunately, for him, they are not shared by the vast majority of people across this country. That is because Social Security has been the so successful for so long and it has kept many millions of people out of poverty as they grow older. This is something to be remembered and praised, not attacked and berated.