Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who campaigned Wednesday in Las Vegas on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy, said Americans can expect to hear Obama speak far more about the differences he and Sen. John McCain have on Social Security.
In an interview with the Review-Journal prior to speaking before area seniors gathered at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041, Daschle said Obama will inform senior voters — a potent voting bloc — about McCain’s strong support three years ago for a policy that President Bush tried unsuccessfully to promote: diverting a portion of Social Security taxes to fund private retirement accounts.
Under that plan, workers would manage the money in stocks and bonds and, at retirement, also receive reduced Social Security payments.
“With what we’ve seen from Wall Street, we can see how dangerous that would be to a retirement,” said Daschle, a South Dakotan who served in the Senate for 18 years.
Daschle told the seniors that Obama opposes the private accounts, what the candidate calls the privatization of social security, and has warned they could be a precursor to phasing out the entitlement program.
The seniors on hand at the union hall for Daschle’s appearance were aware that McCain advocated a private accounts plan similar to that of Bush when he was a candidate for president in 2000.
“He’s trying to say he’s for something else now, but don’t believe it,” said 72-year-old Scott Watts, the president of the 16,000 member Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans.
On the 2008 campaign trail, McCain has said “everything is on the table” in regards to Social Security reform because the program is going broke. To do otherwise, he said, is “political posturing.” McCain’s aides have denied that the candidate now favors the failed Bush plan.
But in March McCain told the Wall Street Journal: “As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it — along the lines that President Bush proposed.”
Obama has suggested shoring up Social Security by imposing a Social Security tax of no more than 4 percent on earnings above $250,000.
“I think you need to tell Senator Obama to stress to seniors what Senator McCain favors,” Lynn Richards, 67, told Daschle. “He missed an opportunity to do that in the last debate.”