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July 09, 2008

HOLY CRAP: John McCain Is More Dangerously Stupid Than I Ever Imagined Possible

Below I defended John McCain for saying this on Monday:

MCCAIN: 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.

I assumed he meant by this that the "disgrace" was young workers paying taxes for promised benefits that they may not receive. But no—as the people attacking him thought, he actually does mean the "disgrace" is retiree benefits being paid by the taxes of young workers. As Jason Lefkowitz points out, he said this yesterday on CNN:

ROBERTS: Senator, I'm sure you're also hearing from them about social security. Because you say that part of this plan, if you're going to balance the budget, is to reform social security. You've talked about the idea of private accounts, as President Bush tried to get through and couldn't. What else would you do to reform social security?...

MCCAIN: On the privatization of accounts, which you just mentioned, I would like to respond to that. I want young workers to be able to, if they choose, to take part of their own money which is their taxes and put it in an account which has their name on it. Now, that's a voluntary thing, it's for younger people, it would not affect any present-day retirees or the system as necessary. So let's describe it for what it is. They pay their taxes and right now their taxes are going to pay the retirement of present-day retirees. That's why it's broken, that's why we can fix it.

In other words, McCain has NO UNDERSTANDING WHATSOEVER of how Social Security works and has worked for the past seventy years.

Jeebus Cripes Almighty, this country is in trouble.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at July 9, 2008 11:40 AM

Jeebus Cripes Almighty, this country is in trouble.
—Jonathan Schwarz

all the more so cuz he's likely gonna be #44, and there'll be plenty of New/Bluedog dems to carry his water...

although i don't think anything will be appreciably different if Barry-O's installed. We'll STILL get a 'conservative' appointment to replace either ginsgerg ofr stevens, whichever one quits/dies firsst...
they're gonna fuck-up social security, n o matter who's the # 44, and it'll be easier for Barry O to bring it off, cuz he LOOKS like a progressive...

oh, yeah, jon we're SOOOOOOO fucked...

Posted by: woody, tokin librul at July 9, 2008 12:52 PM

But this has been the conservative rap about Social Security for decades: that it is not "fair" for current workers to fund the retirement of their elders.

McCain knows how the system works--it is not that complicated. It is the same basis on which public funding for education is countenanced. In fact, it is the same basis (mutual aid, cooperation, etc) on which all of SOCIETY works.

The Republicans are keen to destroy as much of society as they can, so they can then argue that we need to throw it all away and start over with a privatized basis for everything, because of the "failure" of early models.

Posted by: Seth at July 9, 2008 01:15 PM

I was wondering what you were talking about in the previous post.

It had me perplexed.

The universe makes sense once again.

Posted by: Labiche at July 9, 2008 02:22 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot to say, "I am soooooooo voting for McCain in the fall."

It's the most realistic way to support the progressive agenda.

Posted by: Labiche at July 9, 2008 02:25 PM

Isn't this a pretty much standard Republican theme, though - any redistribution is an absolute disgrace? Sounds like he's trying to appeal to the right-libertarian segment, to neutralize Bob Barr, maybe kick him out altogether.

Of course it can cost him a few 50 year-old pro-war democrats, but obviously they decided that it's worth it.

The words they utter have no actual meaning, it's a ritual kinda thing.

Posted by: abb1 at July 9, 2008 03:28 PM

What are you on about? Of course he understands how it works. It's just that he doesn't like it. It's a conservative, and nothing angers a conservative more than a social safety net that actually works. That's why they're so apopleptic about smearing Social Security despite the fact that it's electoral suicide. Eventually the meme spreads to the yellow Democrats and they start talking about "reforming" SS too, and then the voters get to choose between a real Republican and a fake Republican, pick the real one, and the real one fucks the poor.

Don't you remember how all this works?

Posted by: McDuff at July 9, 2008 03:54 PM

The Social Security System hasn't been pay-as-you-go since the mid 1980s. Since then we have been paying extra taxes to create the surplus needed to support Baby Boomers when they (we) start to retire. The surplus is over two trillion dollars, which has been squandered on wars and tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. So all we have is a two trillion dollar IOU from the US Treasury that will be paid by taxes (or more borrowing). Republicans are desperately searching for a way to avoid paying back that IOU so they can keep their ill-gotten gains.

Posted by: cnmne at July 9, 2008 04:27 PM

What are you on about? Of course he understands how it works.

No, I disagree. If he wanted to be consciously deceitful they have a million ways to do it more slickly than this. His statement has all the signs of honest idiocy.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at July 9, 2008 04:29 PM

You seem pretty right to me.

Posted by: ethan at July 9, 2008 04:41 PM

Shit, I forgot the "damn". You seem pretty damn right to me.

Posted by: ethan at July 9, 2008 04:43 PM

You seem pretty damn right to me.

Excellent work. I salute your taste and discernment.

Now, please say exactly the same thing 16 more times on this post.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at July 9, 2008 04:48 PM

Eventually the meme spreads to the yellow Democrats and they start talking about "reforming" SS too

First, that already has happened, and second, typically this isn't done by presidential candidates but by freshly elected politicians, TV talking heads and newspaper columnists. Presidential candidates normally want to avoid any controversy and get elected simply for being nice and trustworthy individuals. But right now he has Barr polling 7-8% and he has to gamble.

Posted by: abb1 at July 9, 2008 04:48 PM

This is what always bewildered me about the Bush plan to destroy Social Security.

He was telling current retirees that they would still get SS (funded by me, 48yrs old, paying into the system for 35 years) and telling younger people that they wouldn't have to pay for MY SS benefits.

So I would be shit out of luck, my contributions would be used to "save" the system and then apparently I would get to eat out of a garbage can if I every chose to retire.

What bewildered me was the conservatives in my age group who seemed astonished at why I might object to such a plan - even after I explained WHY this was bad for them as well

Dangerously stupid indeed.

Posted by: Jimbo at July 9, 2008 05:59 PM

It is not like the future funding of the military or agribusiness is "on the block" or "shaky." We could guarantee easy retirement for everyone if it were a priority.

Posted by: seth at July 9, 2008 07:05 PM

It is not like the future funding of the military or agribusiness is "on the block" or "shaky." We could guarantee easy retirement for everyone if it were a priority.

I didn't realize you were still alive, MR. STALIN.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at July 9, 2008 07:11 PM

I suspect very few of the population truely UNDERSTANDS SS and how it works, and McCain just falls into the larger percentage. Ya pay in, ya fill out a buncha forms, the check's in the mail when ya retire. That's what most people see because its NEVER taught in school or anywhere else, anything different.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 9, 2008 09:12 PM

SINCE SS is in every legal sense a "separate account" I've offten wondered if the TRUST FUND, holding ALL those T-bills for SOOOOO long, the INTEREST must be RECORD BREAKING to say the least, could default the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 9, 2008 09:17 PM

Labiche: I DON'T participate in SS, I don't put in, I don't and won't collect, I really don't count in THAT question.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 9, 2008 10:34 PM

It would be of remote interest to see how the transfer payments balance out between one generation's social security costs and the next's education. See if the old geezers are getting any return on their investment.

Posted by: buermann at July 9, 2008 11:19 PM

So as near as I can tell, the GOP took all the money out of Social Security to pay for tax cuts, and now they are complaining how disgraceful it is that there is no money is Social Security?

And the solution is to take more money out of Social Security?

And there are actual economists who signed their names to John McCain's plan? Does ths prove that the intellectual value of being an "economist" is pretty low?

If you ask ten thousand engineers how to fix a poorly supported bridge, would any of them seriously recommend just taking away all the remaining supports?

If McCain fired his economic advisors and replaced them with homeless bums, would it make his ideas worse, or better?

Posted by: Dave at July 10, 2008 12:18 PM

THE ONLY money in SS is payouts on a day by day basis. EVERYTHING else is in T-Bills.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 10, 2008 01:46 PM

Bush and Cheney backed their moving van up to the back door of the Great American Warehouse.

After they had finished loading up anything of value they took a look around.

"Those rivets holding the girders together--can we sell those for scrap? Yeah? OK, pull 'em out."

Posted by: Seth at July 10, 2008 01:55 PM