CNN's Tom Foreman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain "has always said" allowing young people to set up private Social Security accounts "is not instead of Social Security; this should be in addition to Social Security." In fact, McCain supported President Bush's 2005 Social Security proposal, which would have allowed workers to divert up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account, thereby removing it from the money available to pay Social Security benefits for current retirees.
On the September 28 edition of CNN: Special Investigations Unit, host Tom Foreman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain "has always said" allowing young people to set up private Social Security accounts "is not instead of Social Security; this should be in addition to Social Security." In fact, McCain supported President Bush's 2005 Social Security proposal, which did not propose adding private accounts to the existing system but, rather, proposed allowing workers to divert from their payroll taxes up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account, thereby removing it from the money available to pay Social Security benefits for current retirees.
As Media Matters for America has noted, in a March 3 Wall Street Journal interview, McCain reportedly reiterated his support for private Social Security accounts: "Actually, I'm totally in favor of personal savings accounts and I think they are an important opportunity for young workers. I campaigned in support of President Bush's proposal and I campaigned with him, and I did town hall meetings with him." A Journal article about the interview quoted McCain saying: "As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed." Bush's plan called for "allowing [younger workers] to put part of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts" and to put the money in those accounts "into a conservative mix of bond and stock funds." McCain also said on the July 8 edition of CNN's American Morning, "I want young workers to be able to, if they so choose, to take part of their own money, which is their taxes, and put it into an account, which has their name on it. Now, that's a voluntary thing, it's for younger people. It would not affect any -- any present-day retirees or the system as necessary."
From the September 28 edition of CNN: Special Investigations Unit, with guest washingtonpost.com writer Chris Cillizza:
FOREMAN: We're going to start off first with Social Security and what Barack Obama said about John McCain. Listen.
OBAMA [video clip]: If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would have had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week. [cut] Millions would have watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes.
FOREMAN: Boy, to say that down in Florida where there are so many retirees. Chris, explosive words, but are they true?
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, the issue here is, it's a function of this Social Security privatization or partial privatization that George W. Bush pushed after the 2004 election and went nowhere. It would allow younger people to put -- voluntarily put some of their money into the stock market, but no, older voters would not be required to do so. This is an attack that Democrats have used very effectively, though, in both the 2006 election and congressional candidates are already using an echo of that attack in 2008 as well.
FOREMAN: So all of those older folks there are actually under no threat at all from McCain's plan; it's about what younger people might do in the future. And McCain has always said this is not instead of Social Security; this should be in addition to Social Security, correct?
CILLIZZA: That's right, that's exactly right. It's an option that you can opt into. But remember, Social Security isn't called the third rail of American politics for nothing, the old you-touch-it-you-die kind of thing that people are very worried about having their benefits either taken away or reduced in any way, shape, or form, and that's why it makes for a good political attack.
FOREMAN: So we'll take a look at the true-false chart, and we're gonna put a big false under that claim by Barack Obama.