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Where the Bay State's Senate Candidates Stand on the Issues

Retirement security top concerns for Brown, Warren

Both U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren say they want to protect Medicare and Social Security but differ on how best to preserve them.

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Brown was one of five Senate Republicans who voted against a Republican House plan to privatize Medicare, saying he would fight waste and fraud to secure money for Medicare and Social Security.

"We are wasting tens of billions of dollars every month on duplicative programs in various areas of the budget, overpayments, defense and IT programs that are way over budget, and outright fraud," he said in a written statement to the AARP Bulletin.

Brown said he would like to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which he said cut billions from Medicare.

"First, we need to commit to current seniors and those close to retirement that they will absolutely continue to receive the benefits they have spent their entire careers working for, and are depending on," Brown said.

Warren (D) said she is opposed to privatizing or making unnecessary cuts to Medicare or Social Security, saying it would be a "breach of trust" to do so.

"At a time when big corporations are paying nothing in taxes, and hedge fund managers and oil companies are getting special tax breaks, we should not be asking seniors to live on less or talking about dismantling the system," Warren said in a written statement to the Bulletin.

"Instead, we need to cut health care costs across the board and do so in a way that improves quality."

She defended the Affordable Care Act, saying it streamlines the health care system and provides money for research for better health outcomes.

Next: The next election will determine future of Social Security. »

Retirement security

Regarding retirement security, Brown said he wants to cut deficits and keep a strong economy so workers can set aside money.

Warren said she is committed to exposing and fighting the economic vulnerability of older Americans and has stood up to the largest financial institutions to protect Americans of all ages.

The two will square off Nov. 6 as Brown seeks to win a full six-year term. He came to office in February 2010 by defeating Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in a special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).

Brown, a graduate of Boston College Law School, presents himself as an everyman, someone who drives a pickup truck. Ads this year have featured his wife describing him as a supportive husband and father.

Brown serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Small Business; and Veterans' Affairs.

Warren touts herself as someone who came from a middle-class family and worked her way up to teaching at Harvard Law School. She has taught law for more than 30 years and has written nine books. She helped establish the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

50+ voter turnout

Medicare and Social Security are traditional concerns of 50-plus voters, who are an important voting bloc in most elections, said Maurice T. Cunningham, an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and a founder of the nonpartisan blog.

"It's a reliable turnout," he said.

The next president and Congress will likely determine the future of Social Security and Medicare.

That's why AARP Massachusetts President Linda Fitzgerald has been crisscrossing the state as part of You've Earned a Say to let people speak their minds regarding the programs.

"We'd like the conversation about Medicare and Social Security to come up from the bottom, not top down," she said.

To learn more about the candidates' positions and to read the AARP Massachusetts Voters' Guide, go to the AARP Massachusetts website or call 1-866-448-3621 toll-free for a printed copy of the voters' guide.

Jean Lang is a freelance writer from Milton, Mass.

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