Charlie Crist on Social Security
Asked what he would do, Crist said that raising the age "really flies in the face of an awful lot of my fellow Floridians" and said he would root out waste and fraud instead. The Crist campaign issued a post-debate statement: "Governor Crist believes that Speaker Rubio's support of raising the retirement age and reducing Social Security cost of living adjustments is cruel, unusual and unfair to seniors living on a fixed income," it read. "While entitlement reform needs to be addressed, the speaker's position on this issue demonstrates, yet again, that he does not have Floridians' best interests in mind. This issue will surely be one of many Florida voters will hear more about throughout the rest of this campaign."
Crist replied that he opposes either a retirement age increase or changes to annual COLAs. Instead, he would focus on attacking "waste and fraud" in the system. As a general rule, when a politician mentions "waste, fraud, and abuse" it should be interpreted the same as if the candidate wore a sign saying "I'm not serious." That's not to say that we don't have problems with fraud, but that the real problem is simply that the government spends too much. This is particularly so in the case of Social Security, which is one of the most efficient federal government programs.
RUBIO: I think all of that has to be on the table, including the way we index increases in cost of living. All of these issues have to be on the table [including raising the retirement age]. They are options that I would be open to.
Q: Gov. Crist, we looked all over your campaign Web site. Frankly, we couldn't find a word about Social Security reform.
CRIST: Well, I think it's important that we understand Social Security must be saved. It must be protected. The idea of having a higher age for people to be able to be eligible for Social Security really flies in the face of an awful lot of my fellow Floridians and it's something that I would not advocate. I think we need t take the fraud out of Social Security, the waste, in Medicare as well.
Q: You're saying that even for people under the age of 55 you would not raise the retirement age or you wouldn't change the cost-of-living adjustment?
CRIST: No, I would not.
A: Invest a portion of the budget surplus into the Social Security trust fund.
GRAHAM: The first thing we have got to do is cut out the fraud and abuse which is ripping off more than 10%, in some places in Florida up to 20% of our Medicare funds. Mr. Crist has suggested that one of the important components of the financing of Medicare should be repealed
CRIST: I believe that Medicare is a sacred contract that we have with our senior citizens, and I will pledge to always try to protect Medicare as well as Social Security going into the future. Sen. Graham felt that one of the ways to try to make Medicare last longer was to raise the age of eligibility of those for Medicare as well as the premium costs for Medicare. I don't think that's the right approach. We ought to prioritize, make sure that we protect & preserve Medicare as well as Social Security by prioritizing those programs so that our seniors can always count on them. I don't think the right thing to do is to tax Social Security benefits
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