Jul 23, 2015 7:44 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
GORHAM – Jeb Bush is defending his comments about reforming Medicare.
And the former Florida governor tells NH1 News that Democratic attacks on what he said are “just ridiculous.”
At a town hall Thursday in northern New Hampshire, the Republican presidential candidate was questioned by a senior citizen over his comments at an event Wednesday night that was organized by Americans for Prosperity, when he said that “we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they’re not going to have anything.”
The female questioner at the town hall in Gorham asked “I’ve paid into it for all these years, just like all these other seniors. Now you want to take it away.”
“No, no, no, no, no,” Bush responded.
“Yes, that’s what you said this morning,” responded the woman, talking about the coverage of Bush that she saw on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
“I didn’t say that,” Bush responded.
“We’re not going to have adequate coverage for our children or our grandchildren without Medicare. I paid into that for years and years, just like all these other seniors here, and now you want to take it away?” said the woman, who didn’t give her name before leaving before the town hall concluded.
“Why are you always attacking the seniors?” she asked.
“Well, I’m not,” Bush responded.
“Here’s what I said. I said, ‘We’re going to have to reform our entitlement system.’ We have to.”
“It’s not an entitlement,” the woman quickly fired back. “I earned that.”
“It’s an actuarialy unsound health care system,” said Bush, added that action was needed before Medicare burdens future generations with billions in debt.
“The people that are receiving these benefits, I don’t think that we should touch that; but your children and grandchildren are not going to get the benefit of this that they believe they’re going to get, or that you think they’re going to get, because the amount of money put in compared to the amount of money the system costs is wrong,” Bush said.
Bush tells Washington Post Democratic attacks “just ridiculous”
Talking to reporters following the event, Bush was asked by NH1 News about the feisty exchange.
“She wasn’t that feisty. She was a nice lady,” Bush said.
Asked if he’s talking about replacing Medicare with a new system, Bush told NH1 News “I talked about reforming the system.”
“Clearly we have a Medicare program that’s not going to be around 30 years from now in form that is, because the deficits that we’ve accumulated by not changing it are extraordinary. So to fix, to reform it, is the way you protect it for future generations. And as I mentioned last night, this is not about changing the program for people who already have it,” Bush added.
Following his Wednesday night comments, Democrats quickly criticized Bush. And top Democratic party officials held a Thursday afternoon conference call to continue their attack.
“Once again, Jeb Bush has shown that he just doesn’t get it on the issues that matter to middle class families. Maybe Jeb Bush can afford to get by without Medicare. I’m sure the Koch brothers would be fine too. But millions of Americans are counting on Medicare when they retire for access to quality, affordable health care,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Party.
“This is just the latest chapter in a long book of Republicans trying to destroy Medicare or turn it over to corporations. Nearly the entire Republican field supported Paul Ryan’s efforts to end Medicare as we know it," add New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, a DNC vice-chairman.
Bush responded to the barrage of criticism, telling NH1 News that “I don’t think anybody can deny that our entitlement challenges are real. We can play like they’re not real and just allow them to compound out. But if you assume that they’re real, then rather than demonize someone or take what they say out of context or attack them for saying that we need to reform the system, maybe we outta join hands and try to solve the problem. And my statement last night was the left just wants to demonize anybody that suggests that there’s a problem. And it took less than a day for me to be attacked for the very thing that I predicted would happen. And that’s just ridiculous. We need to have a grown up conversation about these issues.”
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