En Español\ Barack Obama and Mitt Romney discussed the future of Medicare and Social Security, the health of the economy and Washington gridlock — all major concerns for older Americans. (As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, AARP neither endorses nor contributes to political candidates.) Presidential nominees
Mitt Romney will face a slew of thorny problems, ranging from unemployment to Washington gridlock, from debates over health care management to retirement programs, if he becomes the nation's 45th president. And Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and successful businessman, has refined this pitch: Been there. Done that.
The Republican nominee, 65, cites his business experience and record as a GOP governor in a heavily Democratic state as proof he can take his skills to the national level. Romney, whose campaign has tapped the frustration older voters in particular feel over the struggling economy, argues that he is a problem solver who can fix the nation's troubles in the same way he managed the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and investments at Bain Capital, where he was CEO. In virtually every arena, from taming health care costs to growing the economy, Romney returned to three basic principles: pare the federal government, give states more control and let the free market work.
"When I was elected governor of Massachusetts, the state was in severe disarray," Romney said in an exclusive written interview with the AARP Bulletin. "I made the hard decisions that brought state spending under control and got Massachusetts' economy back on track.'' The nominee was unable to sit down with the Bulletin in person, but provided email answers to questions.
This perennial issue took center stage in the campaign when Romney picked Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan is author of a House budget plan that would revamp the $550 billion-a-year Medicare program by offering recipients the option of accepting a government subsidy to buy health insurance on the private market. Those 55-plus would not be affected, and people could stay on traditional Medicare if they preferred. Romney embraces Ryan's general approach, saying "competition" will bring costs under control.
"The proposal we are running on honors Medicare's promise to today's seniors and makes no changes for those who are enrolled in the program today or who will enroll in the next decade. For future generations, we protect and strengthen Medicare by allowing the power of competition and choice to put the program on a sustainable path," Romney said. But he would not include the $716 billion trim in future Medicare spending that is part of both the Ryan budget and President Obama's Affordable Care Act. About the lost savings, he said the market would drive down costs.
"Choice and competition have worked to reduce costs and increase quality in virtually every sector of our economy. They can work in Medicare as well. We see it happening today in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program," Romney said. "Choice and competition," along with "strong patient protections," will ensure that Medicare beneficiaries get the care they need, he added.