Keeping Social Security stable will be a big chore for whoever is elected the next president. But Mississippi Democrats say John McCain's plan is to privatize it. They claim it would drop thousands of Mississippi senior citizens below the poverty level. Is that an election year trick or the truth?
It has been almost 15 years since a stroke left Suzette Matheny partially paralyzed. The retired teacher settled at a Jackson retirement center after Hurricane Katrina. Matheny now draws a thousand dollars a month in Social Security.
"This is my sole source of income. If it's taken away from me, in my physical condition and at my age, I could not be able to support myself," said Matheny.
Mississippi Democrats claim that's what could happen if John McCain is elected instead of Barack Obama.
"Buying groceries, paying bills and filling up their gas tanks would become an unbearable struggle if McCain has his way with Social Security," said Barbara Blackmon of the Mississippi Democratic Party.
McCain did stand with President Bush when the president offered a privatization plan. That plan would have created personal accounts for workers to put a portion of their payroll tax in stocks of their choosing. But it lost steam after a Wall Street down turn.
But Mississippi Republican chairman-elect, Brad White, says McCain has offered no such plan as he runs for the White House.
"To hear the Democrats talk, you would think John McCain is saying 'when I become president I'm issuing an edict and all the people on Social Security all of a sudden are going to quit getting their checks'," said White.
Both sides accuse the other party of scare tactics.
"Sen. McCain has fallen in line behind President George W. Bush and other Republicans who seem intent on trying to scare and frighten people," said Blackmon.
"They've gone from the party whose leader used to say all we have to fear is fear itself, to a party of all we have to offer is fear," said White.