Courtesy of The Wonk Room, which takes a decidedly negative view of McCain's staement, is a short passage on Social Security reform from, of all places, the Regis and Kelly show:
MCCAIN: What should be partisan about the fact that Social Security is going to go broke? I mean, should we be divided up among Republican and Democrat…
REGIS: Do you have a plan?
MCCAIN: Yes, sir. It’s gonna require, though, cooperation and participation by the other side. And I’ll reach my hand out…
REGIS: Is it privatization of the Social Security program?
MCCAIN: No, no it isn’t. But I would say that I support…I’d put everything on the table to start with…but second of all…young workers ought to be able to put part of their salary, part of their taxes into Social Security, into an account with their name on it. But that would not in any way effect older workers. But you’ve got to have a negotiation.
The running question underlying this and previous statements from McCain and his campaign is whether he supports so-called "carve out" accounts funded from the payroll tax or "add-on" accounts funded with additional contributions.
Here is the McCain campaign's "official" position on Social Security reform:
Reform Social Security: John McCain will fight to save the future of Social Security and believes that we may meet our obligations to the retirees of today and the future without raising taxes. John McCain supports supplementing the current Social Security system with personal accounts -- but not as a substitute for addressing benefit promises that cannot be kept. John McCain will reach across the aisle, but if the Democrats do not act, he will. No problem is in more need of honesty than the looming financial challenges of entitlement programs. Americans have the right to know the truth and John McCain will not leave office without fixing the problems that threatens our future prosperity and power.This statement talks about accounts "supplementing" traditional Social Security benefits, which some have take as implying an add-on account, while today's statement seems to point toward a carve-out.
I suspect the true answer is that the "add-on vs carve-out" question hasn't really been decided, and at this point there probably isn't too much need to. Social Security reform will ultimately be a negotiated settlement between the parties, so what matters most will be the reform package, not the individual provisions.