Dems Target McCain on Social Security

John McCain came under fire on Friday from defenders of the current Social Security system after his aides signaled to the Associated Press that the current market turmoil has not altered his support for changing the retirement program to allow individuals to invest some portion of their Social Security payroll taxes in stocks and bonds.

"His midnight conversion from aggressive deregulator to market critic is apparently incomplete," said Jared Bernstein, the senior economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

"He still wants to privatize Social Security to subject retirees to the possibility of this kind of market turmoil," he added. "Imagine what this would have meant to those in the cohort unlucky enough to reach retirement age in a market climate like this one."

Democrats who used President Bush's push for private Social Security accounts to help bring down the Republican Congress in 2006 are hoping to use McCain's stance on the issue to paint him as an "ideologue" who is "impervious to facts." Friday's method of attack, which Bernstein participated in, was a conference call with reporters set up by the liberal group Americans United for Change.

McCain's Social Security stance has sometimes been hard to pin down.

For months, his campaign website has spoken of the senator's support for "supplementing" the existing Social Security system with personally managed accounts. The suggestion left by his website is that his accounts would not replace guaranteed payments and that they would not be financed by diverting a portion of Social Security payroll taxes.

"John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts," reads McCain's official website, "but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept."

Despite the website's call for "supplementing" the existing system, McCain told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on March 3 that he supports private savings accounts "along the lines that President Bush proposed."

Told that his support for Bush-style private accounts was at odds with the way in which his website describes his position, McCain said he would change his campaign web site.

Talking to an NBC affiliate in Miami on May 20, McCain reiterated his support for private accounts, saying, "I still believe that private savings accounts, if young workers want to have them, is an option that they should be able to have. I don't see why we should prevent them from being able to take some of their taxes and put it into an account with their name on it. Certainly I would not force anybody to do it. And certainly it wouldn't apply to anyone over age 55. But people like to have accounts with their names on them."

Although the Journal reported that McCain promised to change his website, it still talks of "supplementing" the existing system, obscuring the fact that he favors a proposal similar to Bush which would reduce the minimum benefit guaranteed by the government.

While the Social Security straddle continues on McCain's website, Democrats are planning to couple the financial crisis with the occasions in which McCain has explicitly backed Bush-style accounts to raise doubts about the economic stewardship of the Republican presidential nominee.

"The fact that he is clearly keeping privatization on the table is, at best, a formula for gridlock, and, at worst, a formula for the dismantling of Social Security," said Roger Hickey, the co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future.

On the campaign front. . .


-- 10:45 am ET – Holds Women's Rally in Daytona Beach, FL.
-- 2:30 pm ET - Holds Rally in Jacksonville, FL.

-- 1:00 pm ET - Attends Labor Fish Fry in Castlewood, VA.

-- 11:00 am ET – Attends Navel Academy Football Game Annapolis, MD.


-- 1:00 pm ET - Holds Rally in Charlotte, NC.

-- 3:30 pm ET - Holds Rally in Lady Lake, FL.


-- Holds Rally in Green Bay, WI

-- Holds Rally in Madison, WI.
-- Holds Rally in Milwaukee, WI.
-- Holds Rally in Wausau, WI.

-- 8:30 am ET (Doors) – Holds Town Hall in Scranton, PA.
-- 3:00 pm ET - Holds Rally in Media, PA.

-- 3:00 pm ET - Holds Rally in Media, PA.

At the White House. . .


-- 10:05 am ET - Delivers weekly radio address.


ABC News' David Wright, David Kerley, Sunlen Miller and Jennifer Parker: Obama, McCain Duel for Economic Credibility LINK

ABC News' Scott Mayerowitz and Jennifer Parker: Bush, Paulson: Financial Market Bailout Could Cost Taxpayers Hundreds of Billions LINK

ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala: Palin Warns Against 'Second Holocaust' by Ahmadinejad LINK

ABC News' Claire Shipman: Obama, Biden Campaign for Women's Vote LINK

ABC News' Marcus Baram: Who's Whining Now? Gramm Slammed By Economists LINK

ABC News' Nitya Venkataraman: Congress Mulls $1 Trillion Economic Bailout LINK

ABC News' Lee Ferran: What a Week! Train Rolls to a Stop LINK

ABC News' Cynthia McFadden: Going Home to Maine LINK

ABC News' Katie Escherich: One Morning in Maine, Lobstermen at Work LINK

ABC News' David Wright and Jennifer Parker: Ad Wars Heat Up Over Campaign Advisers LINK

ABC News' David Kerley and Sunlen Miller: Obama to Meet with Economic Team LINK

ABC News' Nitya Venkataraman: Dodd: Financial Crisis Was 'Avoidable' LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Matthew Jaffe: Oh, That Joe! (No. 13 in a Series) - Kicking Ohio State's A** LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia: Undermining McCain Campaign Attack, Republicans Back Obama's Version of Meeting with Iraqi Leaders LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: WP Editorial Board Defends McCain's Record on Regulation LINK


Protestors Interrupt Obama Rally
Protestors wielding 'Obama endorsed by KKK' signs escorted out of rally LINK

McCain Ties Obama to Failed Economy
McCain to Obama: 'Spare us the lectures and admit to his own poor judgment.' LINK

Obama Outlines Economic Plan
Obama urges bi-partisan support of an emergency economic plan. LINK

Candidates' Wives Combat Palin Effect
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden zero in on women's issues. LINK

Bush: The Time to Act is Now
President Bush addresses the nation on the state of the economy. LINK

John McCain 2.0
Has John McCain changed his message? LINK

Fed Bailout Could Be a Trillion Dollars
Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby discuss the government's economic plan. LINK

The Bottom Line on the Economic Crisis
George Stephanopoulos discusses how the economy will influence the election. LINK

Elizabeth Edwards Speaks Out on Affair
The former senator's wife addresses his indiscretion for the first time. LINK