On Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoilos asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about his plans to fix Social Security. McCain said repeatedly that “everything has to be on the table” regarding possible reforms — including a payroll tax increase:
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that means payroll tax increases are on the table, as well?
MCCAIN: There is nothing that’s off the table.
The comments drew a “sharp rebuke” from the Club for Growth, who wrote McCain a letter calling the comments “shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances.” In fact, just last year McCain explicitly told the National Review that he refused to consider any sort of tax increase. He also told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “No new taxes.”
Trying to stymie the conservative blow-back over his boss’s recent comments, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds insisted to Fox News this morning that the senator hadn’t really been speaking for the campaign. When Fox host Megyn Kelly insisted Bounds stop “waffling” and answer whether a tax increase was “on the table,” Bounds replied, “No”:
KELLY: Might the Social Security tax go up? Is that on the table?
BOUNDS: No, Megyn, there is no imaginable circumstance where John McCain would raise payroll taxes. It’s absolutely out of the question.
Watch a compilation:
Kelly remarked that Bounds seemed to be promoting a different opinion from his candidate. When Bounds said that he agreed with Holtz-Eakin, Kelly interjected, “But you’re guy doesn’t agree with him.” “No,” Bounds seemed to admit.
As Igor Volsky documents in the Wonk Room, McCain has gone back and forth a number of times on the issue of increasing the payroll tax. The truth is that lifting the current cap is the fairest way to help shore up the finances of Social Security.