Today on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for Senate Republicans to put out a detailed agenda of the party's policy ideas, but when pressed about his position on changing Social Security, he said he "can't endorse a specific proposal."
When host Chris Wallace asked McCain whether he is "comfortable with some of the Tea Party ideas that would dramatically shrink the size and the scope of the federal government," the senator said he favored repealing and replacing "Obamacare," introducing a balanced budget amendment, and eliminating pork barrel spending -- ideas that could constitute some sort of contract with America.
McCain also agreed the GOP caucus should "come forward with an agenda before the election," saying the American public needs a reason to vote for Republicans. Wallace then brought up Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Roadmap for America's Future, which proposes changing Social Security by giving "workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts." McCain paused, before shying away from the idea and saying he "can't endorse a specific proposal."
WALLACE: I just want to get back to this idea, the contract. The House Republicans are talking about, I guess they'll call it a Commitment to America. But Senate Republicans haven't been talking about that. Are you saying Senate Republicans should come forward with their own affirmative agenda between now and the election?
McCAIN: I think the Senate and House Republicans should come forward with an agenda before the election. Yes. You know, as much as, as happy as we are about the outcome of the elections, when you look at the approval ratings of Republicans they're just as bad as Democrats. We have to give them a reason to vote for us.
WALLACE: Let's talk about a few specifics that have come out from some member of the House Republican Caucus, like Paul Ryan with his roadmap and some of the Tea Partiers. Do you support the idea of allowing those under 55 -- not talking about people near retirement now -- allowing people under 55 to put up to a third of their payroll taxes in private accounts?
McCAIN: Frankly, I haven't seen that particular issue and in that detail, but everybody knows, all Americans know that we're going to have to fix Social Security and Medicare. And I notice that the Democrats are focusing in and they've rolled out the tired old, golden oldie that the Republicans are going to destroy Social Security. Which by the way, after Obamacare, they cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars, and also are doing away with Medicare advantage. So we don't talk about Republicans going to cut Medicare. But we need to sit down and we need to do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did and come up with a solution. We know we need to do that, but I can't endorse a specific proposal.
Republican leaders have largely avoided adopting Ryan's controversial budget plan, even as they reportedly support it behind the scenes. Former House majority leader Dick Armey recently chastised Republicans for distancing themselves from Ryan's roadmap, saying the "fact that he has only 13 co-sponsors is a big reason why our folks are agitated against the Republicans as well as the Democrats." As the Huffington Post has reported, however, an increasing number of GOP candidates are coming out and supporting the proposal.
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