ABC News’ Rick Klein and Teddy Davis Report: Sen. John McCain continues to oppose a tax increase as part of a comprehensive remaking of the nation’s Social Security program, despite comments by a top adviser that left the door open to such a tax hike.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, top McCain adviser Carly Fiorina raised the possibility of supporting higher Social Security taxes, if a bipartisan coalition is “creative enough” to only impact wealthier Americans in the comprehensive solution it develops.
Fiorina’s remarks echoed comments made by McCain, R-Ariz., before he became a presidential candidate.
In February 2005, McCain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he could support a lifting of the Social Security payroll cap as part of a package of changes to help make the system solvent. This year, only the first $102,000 of taxpayers’ income is subject to the Social Security tax.
"As part of a compromise," McCain said in 2005, "I could [support lifting the cap], and other sacrifices, because we all know that it doesn’t add up until we make some very serious and fundamental changes."
But McCain has not repeated such comments since launching his presidential campaign, and he now says that he opposes higher taxes. He has begun attacking Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for saying he would consider lifting at least part of the payroll cap to shore up Social Security.
A McCain campaign spokesman told ABC News Monday that McCain continues to oppose any tax increase as part of Social Security reform, notwithstanding Fiorina’s comments.
“The lesson of history is that too many specifics at this point polarize the debate, that is the argument Carly was trying to make,” Taylor Griffin said. “However, John McCain does believe that we can fix Social Security without raising taxes. As president, John McCain will call on Congress to develop a bi-partisan solution to Social Security — and if they won’t, he will.”