VP debate excerpts – Vice President Joe Biden on Medicare age eligibility

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on Medicare at the vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012:

MARTHA RADDATZ: Vice President Biden, let me ask you, if it could help solve the problem, why not very slowly raise the Medicare eligibility age by two years, as Congressman Ryan suggests?

JOE BIDEN: Look, I was there when we did that with Social Security in 1983. I was one of eight people sitting in the room that included Tip O’Neill negotiating with President Reagan. We all got together and everybody said, as long as everybody’s in the deal, everybody’s in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way.

We made the system solvent to 2033. We will not, though, be part of any voucher plan eliminating — the voucher says, “Mom, when you’re — when you’re 65, go out there, shop for the best insurance you can get. You’re out of Medicare.” You can buy back in if you want with this voucher, which will not keep pace — will not keep pace with health care costs. Because if it did keep pace with health care costs, there would be no savings. That’s why they go the voucher. They — we will be no part of a voucher program or the privatization of Social Security.

PAUL RYAN: A voucher is you go to your mailbox, get a check, and buy something. Nobody’s proposing that. Barack Obama four years ago running for president said if you don’t have any fresh ideas, use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don’t have a good record to run on, paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Make a big election about small ideas.

RADDATZ: You were one of the few lawmakers to stand with President Bush when he was seeking to partially privatize Social Security.

RYAN: For younger people. What we said then, and what I’ve always agreed is let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system.

BIDEN: You saw how well that worked.

RYAN: That’s not what Mitt Romney’s proposing. What we’re saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above.

BIDEN: What Mitt Romney is proposing…

RYAN: And then the kinds of changes we’re talking about for younger people like myself is don’t increase the benefits for wealthy people as fast as everybody else. Slowly raise the retirement age over time.

BIDEN: Martha…

RYAN: It wouldn’t get to the age of 70 until the year 2103 according to the actuaries.

Now, here’s…

(CROSSTALK)

RADDATZ: Quickly, Vice President?

BIDEN: Quickly. The bottom line here is that all the studies show that if we went with Social Security proposal made by Mitt Romney, if you’re 40 — in your 40s now you will pay $2,600 a year — you get $2,600 a year less in Social Security. If you’re in your 20s now, you get $4,700 (inaudible) less.

The idea of changing, and change being in this case to cut the benefits for people without taking other action you could do to make it work is absolutely the wrong way.

These — look, these guys haven’t been big on Medicare from the beginning. Their party’s not been big on Medicare from the beginning. And they’ve always been about Social Security as little as you can do.

Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this — a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40 — $6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he’d sign it, or me and the president?

BIDEN: You are jeopardizing this program. You’re changing the program from a guaranteed benefit to premium support. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is people are going to have to pay more money out of their pocket and the families I know and the families I come from, they don’t have the money to pay more out…

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