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McCain says Social Security is a "disgrace."

WASHINGTON - At a town hall meeting in Denver, Colo., on Monday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said "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."

Asked about the comment the next day (Tuesday), the Republican presidential candidate told CNN: "On the privatization of (old age and retirement) accounts ... I would like to respond 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 into an account with their name on it. Now that's a voluntary thing; it's for young 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 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."

Jared Bernstein, an analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, said he is shocked by McCain's statement.

"That is truly an amazing quote," Bernstein said. "It's like saying, 'I just found out that taxes come from people. ... That's a disgrace.' It betrays a really quite scary lack of knowledge about basic government. I know he's not into this kind of stuff, but it would be hard not to know about the intergenerational financing of Social Security."

Who's right?

--- Douglas Turner

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Race for the White House
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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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