McCain tackles one of the “third rails”

Third Rail by kreg.steppe on FlickrA while back, Brother Jon started a great conversation about the “third rails” of American politics, those topics that apparently only the ballsiest or the stupidest politicians will take on with any honesty or significance.

On Monday in Denver, Senator McCain (the next president of the United States? — ready…fight!) took on the third rail of Social Security like I imagine formerly chubby Jared Fogle takes on a Subway sandwich: with gusto.

As the Washington Post reports:

“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,” he [ed: McCain, not Fogle] said.

Later, McCain clarified and elaborated:

Young people, he said, “are paying so much that they are paying into a system that they won’t receive benefits from on its present track that its on, that’s the point.” [ed: “…on its present track that its on”? Well said.]

The Social Security trustees “have clearly stated its going to go bankrupt,” he said, adding that this is what he meant when he called the system a disgrace. “I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair, and I think it’s terrible to ask people to pay in to a system that they won’t receive benefits from. That’s why we have to fix it.”

I suppose one could argue that McCain A) is just plain wrong, B) doesn’t have an alternative plan or C) isn’t going far enough by considering “fixing it” when it should simply be shit-canned. I give him credit for taking it on, though. In fact, perhaps it makes McCain even balliser (stupider?) for taking the issue on without yet having articulated a plan to address the matter.

Photo courtesy of kreg.steppe on Flickr

5 thoughts on “McCain tackles one of the “third rails”

  1. jloveland says:

    It was brave to raise the problem. Almost like the McCain of eight years ago, before he sold his soul to the Bushies.

    But it would have been more braverer to offer the best solution — requiring the payment of payroll taxes on all income, rather than taking people earning more than $90,000 off the hook. I also am fine allowing people to invest a portion of their portfolio in equities, though I think the largest portion of Social Security has to be invested more conservatively than that to ensure the safety net is always there. So, there’s a plan both the right and the left can hate!

    But neither candidate will be brave enough to offer long term solutions to the Social Security mess during the campaign.

  2. Reginald says:

    I’m confused. A year ago everyone here hailed McCain as the “maverick.” Now he’s Bush 2.0. Which is it this week?

  3. Sen. Phil says:

    Grow up and stop whining, Reginald! Of course he’s a maverick! And a brave patriot to boot.

    And as for you, Loveland, how dare you question Senator McCain’s bravery!!! This man endured years of torture to keep you free from Communism!! And all you can do is whine about it!

    You are all a bunch of whiners! Whine, Whine, Whine!!!!!

  4. Larry King says:

    Calling all liberals to define what Social Security “reform” means.

    Come out of the shadows and say it. We’re waiting.

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    Bravery as a soldier doesn’t equate with bravery as a political leader.

    McCain strongly backs Bush’s primary forieign policy initiative, the Iraq war, and his primary domestic/economic policy initative, tax cuts for the wealthy. Those are the pillars of the Bush presidency, and they would remain so in the McCain presidency. So, “McBush” is hardly far-fetched.

    But it goes even deeper than those central pillars. I’d argue the next most important policy implication of this campaign is the Supreme Court, and McCain has said he’ll appoint the same kind of justices as Bush. McCain’s health reform proposal is very similar to Bush’s. McCain supports the same policy on Iran and North Korea, and one or both of those could easily dominate the next presidency.

    Yes, there are significant differences between Bush and McCain, such as on global warming and ANWR drilling. Complicating things is the fact that McCain has switched positions to get the Republican nomination, such as immigration, foreign prisoner torture, taxes, and same sex marriage. On those issues, it is frankly difficult to know which way McCain would go as President.

    But I’d argue the most important issues we face are Iraq, the economy, health care and the Supreme Court. On those central issues, the labels McSame and McBush fit.

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