On Bill Bennett’s radio show yesterday, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina — who is currently a leading economic adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — said that McCain is interested in “taking on finally the reform of Medicare and Social Security.” “He is absolutely convinced that this must be tackled in his term as president,” said Fiorina.
Asked by Bennett about “any particular suggestions” McCain is making to change the programs, Fiorina said that he “supports private accounts as one of the ways to reform the system”:
Well, I know that he has been very favorably inclined to the report that came out a little bit ago, the Republican party made a number of suggestions which he embraced. He has on other occasions said that he supports private accounts as one of the ways to reform the system. But I think he, and I think he will continue to be supportive of those.
It is unclear exactly which report Fiorina is refering to when she says McCain has “embraced” a “number of suggestions” by “the Republican Party,” but the “109th Congress Republican Agenda” says the party supports “voluntary personal retirement account[s].”
In his new “economic plan,” McCain says that he “supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts – but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept.” But this contradicts what McCain told the Wall Street Journal last month:
Asked about the apparent change in position in the interview, Sen. McCain said he hadn’t made one. “I’m totally in favor of personal savings accounts,” he says. When reminded that his Web site says something different, he says he will change the Web site. (As of Sunday night, he hadn’t.) “As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it — along the lines that President Bush proposed.”
Bush’s proposed plan wasn’t supplemental. Instead, he would have allowed workers to “divert a portion of Social Security payroll taxes to fund private accounts,” which would have resulted in “reduced Social Security payments from the government.” In March 2005, only 33 percent of Americans said they “supported private retirement accounts in exchange for a reduction of guaranteed retirement benefits.”