Something potentially important happened on the campaign trail today. Via Marc Ambinder, this is a snippet from prepared remarks for Sarah Palin today in Florida:
John McCain and I will protect the entitlement programs that Americans depend on – and above all, Social Security. No presidential election cycle is complete without the Democratic candidate coming down here to Florida to try to stir up fear and panic on this issue. And if you expected any better from the guy who promised to get rid of “old-style politics,” you’re in for a disappointment – because Barack Obama has exploited this issue the way he exploits so many others.
So, let there be no misunderstanding: John McCain has always kept his promises to America, and as president, he will keep America’s promise to our senior citizens.
Methinks she protesteth too much. John McCain strongly supported Bush’s wildly unpopular partial-privatization scheme in 2005. He’s been evasive about his Social Security proposals during the current campaign (unlike Barack Obama, BTW), but he did allow as how he thought the fundamental pay-as-you-go financing system for the program was “an absolute disgrace,” and his budget and economic plans make gigantic savings from “entitlement reform” a very big deal.
Moreover, this very week, the McCain-Palin campaign issued a “clarification” on its health care plan suggesting that it would be financed with $1.3 trillion in unspecified savings from Medicare and Medicaid.
So how trustworthy does McCain sound on “protecting entitlements?” That Palin paused from her attacks on Obama’s associations with William Ayers to raise the subject in senior-heavy Florida indicates that Team McCain is very nervous on the subject, and for good reason. But “just trust us” is not the most compelling counter-argument.