“If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week,” Obama said. “How do you think that would have made folks feel? Millions would’ve watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes.”
The McCain campaign fired back as its spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement: “John McCain is 100 percent committed to preserving Social Security benefits for seniors and Barack Obama knows it — this is a desperate attempt to gain political advantage using scare tactics and deceit.”
Factcheck.org had its own take on Obama's statement today, saying Obama's contention is not true:
The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.
Obama would have been correct to say that many workers under age 58 would have had some portion of their Social Security benefits affected by the current market turmoil – if they had chosen to participate. And market drops would be a worry for those who retire in future decades. But current retirees would not have been affected.
In our "Scaring Seniors" article posted Sept. 19 we took apart a claim in an Obama-Biden ad that McCain somehow supported a 50 percent cut in Social Security benefits, which is simply false. Then, on Saturday Sept. 20, Sen. Barack Obama personally fed senior citizens another whopper, this one a highly distorted claim about the private Social Security accounts that McCain supports.
Obama also said in his prepared statement today:
And I'll protect Social Security, while John McCain wants to privatize it. Without Social Security half of elderly women would be living in poverty - half. But if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week. Millions would've watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes. Millions of families would've been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves. So I know Senator McCain is talking about a "casino culture" on Wall Street - but the fact is, he's the one who wants to gamble with your life savings.
That's untrue, according to Factcheck.org.
All current retirees would be covered by exactly the same Social Security benefits they are now under what the Obama campaign likes to call the "Bush-McCain privatization plan," which Bush pushed for unsuccessfully in 2005.
Who Would Have Been Affected?
As the White House spelled out at the time, on page 5 of the document titled "Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century," released in February 2005:
Bush Plan: Personal retirement accounts would be phased in. To ease the transition to a personal retirement account system, participation would be phased in according to the age of the worker. In the first year of implementation, workers currently between age 40 and 54 (born 1950 through 1965 inclusive) would have the option of establishing personal retirement accounts. In the second year, workers currently between age 26 and 54 (born 1950 through 1978 inclusive) would be given the option and by the end of the third year, all workers born in 1950 or later who want to participate in personal retirement accounts would be able to do so.