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. And 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. That’s current law. We also know what to do. Mitt Romney and I have put our own 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 has 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. That man is Mitt Romney, and let me explain why.