Where do the Republican candidates stand on Social Security and Medicare? The answer is important, because the next president — Democrat or Republican — will inherit the call for changes in those programs to whittle federal spending.
On such controversial subjects, pinning down exactly where the candidates stand isn’t always easy. Newt Gingrich, for example, initially dismissed Rep. Paul Ryan’s dramatic reform proposals as “right-wing social engineering.” Months later Gingrich unveiled his own plan to revise what he called the “welfare empire.” In Monday night’s debate, Rick Santorum called Gingrich’s idea to privatize Social Security “fiscal insanity.” What’s a voter to think?
Social Security and Medicare matter in a big way in states like South Carolina and Florida, which are graying fast. In South Carolina, 14 percent of the population is over 65. In Florida, it’s 18 percent. The average age of GOP primary voters in each state is 64 and 66, respectively.