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Life@50+ Special Event

Transcript: President Barack Obama

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

On Sept. 21, 2012, AARP welcomed President Barack Obama via live satellite and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan in-person to address AARP members at the AARP National Event & Expo, Life@50+, in New Orleans.

Prior to the appearances by President Obama and Congressman Ryan, the audience was welcomed by AARP Chairman A. Barry Rand and journalist Jane Pauley, who moderated the question and answer session.

President Barack Obama: Thank you, Jane. Thank you, AARP. I want to thank Barry, and the entire AARP, for everything you do on behalf of America’s seniors.

And today is especially poignant for me I think because I can’t help to think about my grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. During World War II, she worked on a bomber assembly line, with a baby at home, while her husband was off serving his country. And in the postwar years, she worked her way from a secretary to vice president at her local bank. And later, she helped raise my mother, and then obviously helped raise me and my sister.

She was a great citizen who lived up to her responsibilities. And after a lifetime of hard work, what she hoped for in return was to be able to live out her golden years with dignity and security, and to see her grandchildren and her great grandchildren have a better life.

And she was fiercely independent, so she didn’t want a lot of help from me or anybody else. She just wanted to make sure that the work she had put in was going to pay off. And I’m thinking a lot about her these days because we lost my grandmother three days before I was elected to this office, back in 2008. But rewarding those hopes that she and so many other Americans shared — restoring the basic bargain that says if you work hard, that work will pay off — is one of the reasons I ran for this office in the first place. The values that she taught me are part of what has driven me over the last four years

Now, we’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet. And that’s why I’m asking you for a second term as president.

There’s been a lot of talk about Medicare and Social Security in this campaign, as there should be. And these are bedrock commitments that America makes to its seniors, and I consider those commitments unshakeable. But given the conversations that have been out there in the political arena lately, I want to emphasize Medicare and Social Security are not handouts. You’ve paid into these programs your whole lives. You’ve earned them. And as president, it’s my job to make sure that Medicare and Social Security remain strong for today’s seniors and for future generations.

It probably won’t surprise you, though, that there’s a lot of talk about Medicare and Social Security that hasn’t been completely on the level over the last several months. So here’s what you need to know:

I have strengthened Medicare as president. We’ve added years to the life of the program by getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies that weren’t making people healthier. And we used those savings to lower prescription drug costs, and to offer seniors on Medicare new preventive services like cancer screenings and wellness services.

In fact, the health reform law we passed has already saved more than 5.5 million seniors and people with disabilities nearly $4.5 billion on their prescription drugs. Seniors who received a discount have saved an average of more than $600 this year alone. And over the next 10 years, we expect the average Medicare beneficiary to save nearly $5,000 as a result of this law.

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