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Transcript: President Barack Obama

The president’s remarks and Q&A session with AARP members

Jane Pauley: Mr. President, from Washington, D.C, Paulette asks a question. She says, “If one makes $106 [thousand] a year or less, they pay Social Security taxes on 100 percent of their income; a millionaire pays 10 percent or less. Will you try to get the cap removed for Social Security taxes?"

President Obama: I do think that looking at changing the cap is an important aspect of putting Social Security on a more stable footing. And what I've said is, is that I'm willing to work with Republicans and examine all their ideas, but what I'm not going to do as a matter of principle is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security and suddenly turn it over to Wall Street. Because we saw what can happen, back in 2008-2009, when the stock market crashed. And we're still recovering from that.

Jane Pauley: Mr. President, James from Derry, Pennsylvania, says, "I haven't heard you say much about out-of-control prescription drug costs facing those of us retired and living on fixed incomes. What are you plans to bring down these costs?"

President Obama: Well, the good news is, I'm not just talking about it, we've actually done something about it. The health care bill that we passed, Obamacare, which, by the way, I don’t mind the term because I do care, that’s why we passed the bill — one of the things that we did was to begin closing the notorious doughnut hole that so many seniors suffer from.

So starting this year already, what we’re seeing is a 50 percent discount for seniors who are in the doughnut hole. Each year they’re going to get additional discounts until the doughnut hole is completely closed. That's already saving millions of seniors around the country an average of $600 to $650 a year. That's on top, by the way, of the preventive care that is now provided without additional charge, under Medicare, as a consequence of what we did with Obamacare.

And there's more that we can do on prescription drugs. One of the things that I’ve proposed in my budget is that Medicare recipients should get some of the same deep discounts that Medicaid receives. That would save additional billions of dollars for seniors. And there's work that we can also do in terms of accelerating the use of generics and making sure that the process for seniors getting access to cheaper prescription drugs is obtained.

But this is critically important because I meet too many families where they tell me a story of their parents having to cut their pills in half because they just can’t afford the prescriptions that have been given to them.

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