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Sen. Obama On Opposing The Bush-McCain Plan To Privatize Social Security

A new front opens daily, as the Bush legacy is a target rich environment and John McCain's plan to make a third Bush term is a liability.

Social Security is strong, but as more baby boomers retire, the long-term cash-flow needs to be addressed. We have to make sure Social Security is there for future generations.

Now we already know what the Republicans will be running on. John McCain has already said that he supports private accounts for Social Security – in his words, “along the lines that President Bush proposed.” Let me be clear: privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George W. Bush proposed it. It’s a bad idea today. It would cost a trillion dollars to implement at the front end, and would put the retirement plans of millions of Americans at risk on a volatile Wall Street. That’s why I stood up against this plan in the Senate, and that’s why I won’t stand for it as President.

But Senator McCain’s campaign went even further a few weeks ago, suggesting that the best answer to the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or to raise the retirement age. I think there is another option that is fairer to working men and women. We have to protect Social Security for future generations without pushing the burden on to seniors who have earned the right to retire in dignity.

Here’s my plan. Right now, the Social Security payroll tax only applies to the first $102,000 a worker makes. I think the best way forward is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like me pay a little bit more and people in need are protected. That way we can extend the promise of Social Security without shifting the burden on to seniors. And we should include what’s called a “donut hole” to make sure that this change doesn’t ensnare any middle class Americans.