We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it’s there for my Mom today. My Mom is here with me today. She is a Florida senior. That time in my life, when my Nana lived with my mom and me, is when we grew the closest. I’m very proud of my Mom, and I’m happy she is having a great retirement. Medicare is a big part of her security.
Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.
Our plan keeps the protections that have made Medicare a guaranteed promise for seniors throughout the years. It makes no changes for those in or near retirement.
Now, in order to save Medicare for future generations, we propose putting 50 million seniors, not 15 unaccountable bureaucrats, in charge of their own health-care decisions.
Our plan empowers future seniors to choose the coverage that works best for them from a list of plans that are required to offer at least the same level of benefits as traditional Medicare.
This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage – no exceptions.
And if a senior wants to choose the traditional Medicare plan, then she will have that right.
Our idea is to force insurance companies to compete against each other to better serve seniors, with more help for the poor and the sick – and less help for the wealthy.
We’ve seen this kind of reform work in Medicare Part D – the program for prescription drugs. Choice and competition helped bring it in at 40 percent below cost projections. We’ve applied these lessons and improved upon them.
By the way, these aren’t just Republican ideas. Medicare reforms based on choice and competition go back to the Clinton administration. Experts from both parties helped form this plan. Democrats in Congress have supported these ideas.
Mitt and I studied these bipartisan ideas. We looked at the numbers. And we came up with a plan to save this critical program.
We did the same thing with Social Security. We know it’s in trouble – and we know what’s at stake. If we do not act, today’s seniors will face a 25 percent, across-the-board benefit cut in the heart of their retirements.
We also know what to do. Mitt Romney and I have put our plan on the table. We will make no changes for those in or near retirement. And for my generation, we can make this program solvent by slightly raising the retirement age over time and slowing the growth of benefits for those with higher incomes.
All that we need now is leaders who have the political will to save and strengthen Social Security. But when it comes to protecting this program, President Obama has come up short. The President has no plan – and no plan doesn’t mean leaving Social Security as it is; it means letting it grow weaker. Inaction today will mean sharp cuts tomorrow. Time and again, this President has ducked the tough issues. He’s put his own job security over your retirement security.
Of course, he said he’d be willing to work with Republicans. But he has not moved an inch closer to common ground.
When it comes to bipartisanship, it’s easy to talk the talk. But there is only one man running for President this year who has actually walked the walk. And that man is Mitt Romney.
In a state where 87 percent of the state legislature was Democratic, Governor Romney got real results by reaching across the aisle, bringing people together, and crafting solutions that got widespread support. That’s how he was able to turn a $3 billion budget shortfall into a $2 billion rainy-day fund. That’s how he was able to cut taxes 19 times and balance the budget all four years. And that’s the kind of leadership we need if we’re going to save and strengthen Medicare and Social Security.
Protecting Social Security is personal for me. My Dad died when I was sixteen. Social Security survivors’ benefits helped my family. They helped me go to school. And they helped my mom start a new career.
When Dad died, my Mom had recently entered her fifties – just like many of you. She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison to go to school. She learned new skills to start her small business. It wasn’t just a new livelihood. It was a new life. And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a successful small businesswoman. Her work gave her hope. It made our family proud. And to this day, my Mom is my role model.
For people over 50, retirement security is part of a larger goal. Economic security is what we seek for all Americans. The last four years have been especially hard on Americans who are out of work, but not yet ready to retire. I’ve met men and women who are close to giving up hope that they’ll ever be employed again. Mitt has called long-term unemployment an economic emergency, and he’s right. We haven’t seen a “recovery” this bad in decades. For many Americans, there’s been no recovery at all.
For people who find themselves without a job before they’re ready to retire, starting or joining a small business offers a promising way to bridge the gap – just like my mom did. But President Obama’s policies have made it harder for small businesses to thrive.
The President likes to talk about how he is a champion for small business on the basis of a few temporary tax measures. But the truth is, if re-elected, President Obama has actually promised to raise the tax rates that many successful small businesses pay to over 40 percent – permanently.
Mitt and I just think that’s the wrong approach. We believe that it’s the dreamers and the entrepreneurs, the workers and the families, not the government, who built this economy. They are the ones who are going to get it growing again – and get Americans working again.
In a Romney-Ryan administration, we’re going to champion small businesses and the workers they employ, not stand in their way. We’ve got a plan that will reform the tax code, get rid of special-interest loopholes and limit deductions so that we can lower everybody’s tax rates. Simple. Fair. Competitive. That’s the tax code families and small businesses deserve. That’s how you get people back to work. And that’s the tax code we will deliver.
We’re also going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform. That’s going to give businesses the certainty they need to start hiring again.
And in a Romney-Ryan administration, American workers and small businesses will start getting the respect they deserve. After all their hard work, what they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.
There’s another threat to our economic security, and that’s the debt. It’s hurting our economy now – and if we don’t tackle it soon, it will tackle us.
The President came into office promising to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he added $5 trillion to the debt, and presided over our nation’s first credit downgrade.
If we continue down the road that Europe is on, we’ll get European results: Harsh cuts in benefits for those who depend on them, along with crushing tax hikes.
The Federal Reserve can’t keep bailing us out forever. It can only offer a short-term fix that comes at a long-term cost – and it’s our seniors who will literally pay the price. The Fed’s actions are already having an effect on energy prices and food prices, forcing our nation’s seniors to stretch their fixed incomes. All this money-printing hurts savers. It threatens the future value of our money – and seniors are bearing most of the risk.
Mitt Romney and I will take America off this dangerous path. We’ll bring back real economic growth. We’ll cut and cap spending. And we’ll restore America’s triple-A credit rating.
We can do this. We still have time to get this right.
Whenever I think about the challenges we’re facing, I think of my Mom. Whether it’s the mid-career worker who has to start over, the senior who relies on Medicare today, or the grandparent who wants to make sure her grandkids inherit a stronger America, she is my inspiration. Because I had such a strong example in my own life, I have an unshakeable belief in the resilience, wisdom and ability of the American people to solve these problems.
For mid-career Americans, let’s put a President in the White House who will champion small businesses, so people can go back to work.
For those on Medicare today, let’s repeal Obamacare. Let’s keep our promises to seniors.
And for future generations, let’s strengthen our health and retirement security programs so they can count on them when they retire. Let’s grow the economy so they have opportunities to succeed. And let’s work to leave our grandkids with a debt-free nation.
It will be a long journey … and we can make that journey only together. So I ask you today to join us in the work to come. Your support – and the programs you care about – have been taken for granted long enough. Let’s meet these challenges, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. Join us, help us, work with us, and I know that we can get this done.
Thank you, and God bless. Now I’d be happy to take your questions.