Jeb Bush clarifies comments about 'phase out' of entitlement programs

By Doug G. Ware  |  July 24, 2015 at 1:34 AM
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BRADENTON, Fla., July 24 (UPI) -- During a campaign stop in New Hampshire Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush sought to clarify comments he made a night earlier that implied to some that he might phase out Medicare if he's elected.

At a rally in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, Bush addressed what he sees as need for entitlement reform.

"I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits," he said Wednesday. "But 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."

Thursday, upon being questioned by those in attendance about his remarks, Bush said his comments didn't advocate the demise of Medicare.

"My Medicare right now is wonderful and I paid into it for all these years. Why are always attacking the seniors?" one woman asked Bush.

"I didn't say that," Bush replied. "I said we are going to have to reform our entitlement system."

However, the inclination caught the attention of voters and the Democratic party.

"I am sick and tired of Republicans who say that the only way to save Medicare is to destroy it," Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in the CNN report. "But my frustration is nothing compared to what it must be like for hardworking Americans who have their peace-of-mind and well-being threatened every time Republicans want to score a few political points."

During a town hall meeting Thursday in Gorham, Bush criticized those attacking him for something he didn't say. The former Florida governor stated emphatically that he would not change or remove benefits from people who already receive them -- and said he only expressed his view that the system needs to be improved for future generations.

"If we do nothing that's the burden we're going to place on to your children and grandchildren that you're concerned about and so am I," he said.

"We need to have a grown-up conversation about these issues."

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