Paul Krugman already said everything I would have said about this:
Dean Baker points us to John McCain saying 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.
As Dean correctly points out,
Of course present-day retirees have always been paid their benefits from the taxes paid by current workers. That has been true from Social Security’s inception.
I’d guess that there are three things going on here.
First, McCain has no idea how Social Security works. That may sound hard to believe, but not to anyone who has spent any time in or around the federal government. Politicians, by and large, get where they are mainly by looking and sounding good; this may or may not go along with any actual understanding of governing.
Second, McCain lives in the Washington bubble; and as I wrote a while back,
Inside the Beltway, doomsaying about Social Security — declaring that the program as we know it can’t survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers — is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.
Finally, McCain has surrounded himself with people who hate Social Security. They probably tell him that it’s a doomed Ponzi scheme, and he believes them.