Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee delivered a strong defense of government safety net programs for seniors at a candidate forum in Florida Tuesday, aiming for retired voters in a state rich with them.
While former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have called for raising the retirement age and means-testing Social Security benefits, Huckabee called those proposals "absolutely ridiculous."
“Unlike some in Washington who want to cut benefits for seniors, I will protect Social Security and Medicare. Period," the former Fox News host said at the forum organized by sitting Florida Gov. Rick Scott. "These programs are not entitlements they are earned benefits. The government took that money from you involuntarily when you started working – with the promise that you’d get that money back when you retire. For the government to even think about breaking that promise is absolutely ridiculous.”
In April, Christie proposed a plan that would gradually raise the retirement age to 67 for Medicare and 69 for Social Security, while phasing out payments for those with retirement incomes over $200,000. In an interview with CBS's Face the Nation Sunday, Bush called for a raising the retirement age and said he was open to means-testing.
“We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70,” Bush said. “And that, by itself, will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40.”
In his speech, Huckabee also called for the importation of cheap pharmaceuticals from overseas in an effort to bring down costs.
"For too long, Floridians have been paying far too much for prescription drugs," Huckabee said. "Americans should have the freedom to purchase safe drugs from Canada. In fact, doing so would save taxpayers $19 billion over 10 years. Re-importation also would create competition here in the United States and lower the cost of drugs for all Americans. It just makes sense. It’s wrong that people in foreign countries free-ride off of Americans who pay so much for the same drugs, especially seniors."