McCain’s disturbing history of jeopardizing Medicare and Social Security

McCain proposed dangerous changes to vital programs for Arizona seniors

Arizonans deserve to know where their candidates stand on important issues like protecting Medicare and Social Security -- but that’s not possible with John McCain, who has failed to address these programs at all on his campaign website.

But while McCain thinks Arizonans shouldn’t know about the years he has spent pushing plans to partially privatize Social Security and voting to turn Medicare into a voucher program, he cannot run from his record.

McCain has called Social Security a “disgrace,” and said he did not know how the program could continue, “without privatization” -- and even proposed a Social Security plan that, according to the Associated Press, “really is a partial privatization of the Social Security System.”

McCain’s Medicare proposals haven’t been much better -- in 2008, independent analysts suggested his plan would result in more than $1.3 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over a 10-year period, and he has repeatedly voted for the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.  

“Arizonans have spent their entire lives paying into Social Security and Medicare. They deserve leaders like Ann Kirkpatrick who will always stand up and protect these vital programs,” said Arizona Democratic Party Communications Director Enrique Gutierrez. “But John McCain has not only spent years trying to cut and undermine the promise we made to our seniors, he’s now trying to hiding his dangerous record by refusing to tell Arizonans where he stands. This is just more proof that McCain abandoned ‘straight talk’ after 33 years in Washington, and will now do anything to save his political career.”




2015: Over 1.2 Million Arizonans Including Nearly 900k Retirees Received Social Security Benefits. [, OASDI Beneficiaries by State & County, 2015]

AP FACT CHECK: “McCain Has Long Advocated” For Social Security Private Accounts And His Social Security Plan Amounted To “Partial Privatization Of The Social Security System.” “John McCain has long advocated letting workers divert some of their payroll taxes into private accounts. So when he says now that he won't privatize Social Security, that raises eyebrows. But is he flip-flopping? No, not at all. The Republican presidential candidate is playing a game of semantics. He doesn't want to call his plan what is really is a partial privatization of the Social Security system.” [Associated Press, 6/13/08]

  • McCain Said He Supported Bush’s Plan To Allow Funds Be Diverted From Social Security Into Private Accounts. “McCain said he supports Bush's plan to allow workers to divert nearly a third of their Social Security taxes into personal accounts. Although those accounts will not address Social Security's long-term funding problems, he said, they do provide ‘an important link to the future’ by allowing workers to supplement Social Security checks with money earned in the stock and bond markets.” [Washington Post, 3/23/05]

2004: McCain: “Without privatization, I don't see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security Benefits.” Responding to a question of whether “privatizing Social Security be a priority for you going forward?”  McCain answered, “Without privatization, I don't see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits.”  [McCain speech, NH via YouTube, 11/18/04]

McCain On Social Security: “We Are Paying Present-Day Retirees With The Taxes Paid By Young Workers In America Today. And That's A Disgrace." "I'd like to start out by giving you a little straight talk. Under the present set-up, because we've mortgaged our children's futures, you will not have Social Security benefits that present-day retirees have unless we fix it. And Americans have got to understand that. Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed." [McCain Town Hall Meeting, Denver, CO, 7/7/08]

  • McCain: “The Principle OF Privatization Of Social Security Is One That I Think Is Absolutely Correct.” McCain: "We are paying present day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace, it's an absolute disgrace and it's got to be fixed." […] MCCAIN: "We need personal savings accounts." MCCAIN: "But I think that the principle of privatization of Social Security is one that I think is absolutely correct." MCCAIN: "And the beauty of private accounts is that it does give added return on investments of taxpayers of Social Security members' money." MCCAIN: "Private savings accounts work. They have been proven to work." [Denver Townhall, 7/7/08; Fox News Debate, 10/27/07; CNN,Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields, 5/27/00; ABC News This Week With George Stephanopoulos, 3/20/05; Fox News Network, Fox Special Report With Brit Hume, 3/21/05] [LINK]


May 2016: 982,217 Arizonans Were Enrolled In Original Medicare Or Medicare Advantage And Other Health Plans. [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Accessed 6/30/16]

2008: McCain’s Proposed Budget Would Raise Medicare Eligibility Age And Require Seniors To Pay Higher Premiums. [Roll Call, 9/11/08]

  • McCain’s Health Care Plan Includes “Major Reductions” For Medicare And Medicare That Could Have Resulted In $1.3 Trillion In Cuts Over 10 Years. [Wall Street Journal, 10/6/2008]

McCain Repeatedly Voted For The Ryan Budget. [CQ, 3/21/13; S.Amdt. 433 to S.Con.Res. 8, Vote 46, 3/21/13; CQ, 5/16/12, H.Con.Res. 112, Vote 98, 5/16/12; CQ, 5/25/11; H.Con.Res. 34, Vote 77, 5/25/11]

  • Politifact Has Repeatedly Rated Claim That Ryan Budget Would Turn Medicare “Into A Voucher Program” As “Mostly True.”[Politifact Wisconsin, 6/10/16; Politifact, 11/19/13; Politifact New Jersey, 10/5/12; Poliitifact, 8/16/12]

  • CBPP: FY 2014 Ryan Plan “Essentially The Same” As Previous Ryan Plans And Would Replace “Medicare’s Guarantee Of Health Coverage With A Premium-Support Voucher.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/15/13]

  • GOP Budget Revived Controversial Proposal To Convert Medicare Into Voucher System. [Politico, 3/12/13]

  • FY 2013 Ryan Budget Would Turn Medicare Into A Voucher Program. [New York Times, 3/29/12]

  • Wall Street Journal: FY 2012 Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.”  [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

  • NPR’s Health Shots: “Key Part” Of FY 2012 Ryan Budget Plan Was “Ending Medicare As We Know It” [NPR, Health Shots,4/04/11]