Jeb Bush on Social Security
Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect
HUCKABEE: When I hear people talking about means testing, let's just remember it means that the government decides whether or not I deserve it. If a person lives in a seven-room house, does the government get to say you don't need seven rooms, we're going to take two of them away? Folks, the government has no business stealing even more from the people who have paid this in. I just want to remind you: People paid their money; they expect to have it.
Earlier this year, Bush took heat from critics after saying that he wants "to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something." After Democrats pounced, accusing the candidate of wanting to destroy entitlements, Bush pushed back, saying he wanted to "reform" the program, not eliminate it.
To help increase retirement savings plans, Bush would encourage "starter 401(k) plans" for small business employees. He also favors the idea of letting small bu
Bush acknowledged that when his brother President George W. Bush attempted to privatize Social Security in 2005, he met great bipartisan resistance. "My brother tried, got totally wiped out," Bush said. "Republicans and Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. The next president is going to have to try again."
Bush also said Social Security shouldn't be called an entitlement: "It's a supplemental retirement system that's not actuarially sound, how about that. Medicaid and Medicare are entitlements, and they are growing at a far faster rate than anything else in government."
"We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70," he added. "And that, by itself, will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40."
At the same time, Bush said that he would be open to cutting back benefits for wealthy people and their beneficiaries, a reform proposal known as means testing. "I think it ought to be considered, for sure," Bush said.
GOP lawmakers have repeatedly talked about trying to raise the retirement age and restructure the benefit program in order to make the program more sustainable. So far, however, grand entitlement reform has remained elusive.
"Charlie Crist should be ashamed of his false attack against Marco Rubio on Social Security. Charlie Crist is purposely trying to scare seniors in order to win votes. "The fact is, Marco Rubio will protect Social Security. His own mother relies on Social Security and he has repeatedly stated that he would not support or propose any benefit reductions for current retirees or people who are close to retirement."
"Charlie Crist used to believe that scaring seniors to win votes was wrong. I know this first-hand because in 1995 he spoke out forcefully in my defense when the very same kind of false attacks were made against me. It is sad that he has become so enamored with winning political office that he has abandoned the very principles that steered him into public service in the first place. I am disappointed, but can't say I am surprised."
The governor was extraordinarily successful in achieving his legislative goals regarding privatization: Florida hired private sector companies to administer programs that other states had also privatized: managing state prisons, collecting fees on the state's tollways, and cleaning state buildings. But Bush expanded privatization into uncharted territory and contracted out state personnel services (payroll, benefits, training, recruitment, etc.), the management of Medicaid billing.
Like other officials throughout the nation, Bush argued that he was privatizing Florida state government in order to bring about cost savings and efficiency. However, the speed and manner in which he initiated and carried out his plans led some to suggest that political philosophy was the driving force.
The larger issue regarding the faith-based initiative was that virtually no effort was made to evaluate the activities of the organizations that received public money or to compare their costs and quality of service with those of other service providers. Analysis was impossible and as a consequence the state knows very little about the relative advantages and disadvantages of using faith-based organizations to deliver public services.
Jeb ran a positive campaign on the issues--namely, law enforcement, education, and welfare reform--and was locked in a tight race coming down to the stretch. Then an automated phone call claiming to be from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)--but really originating from the Chiles campaign--went out to 750,000 senior citizens in Florida claiming, falsely, that if elected, Jeb would cut their Social Security payments.
On election day, George won by a comfortable margin with 53.5%, but Jeb lost by 64,000 votes--the closest gubernatorial election in Florida history.
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