Haley wants changes to the entitlement program for younger people

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is proposing changes to entitlement programs for younger generations, opening the door to potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare if elected.

At a campaign rally Monday night in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Haley promised not to affect benefits for seniors who have retired with certain guarantees of a financial future.

“We don’t take it from the elderly,” Haley said. “We will not take it to anyone who has been promised anything. My parents are 80 years old. I don’t want anyone touching theirs.

But Haley, making her first campaign stop in South Carolina since launching her campaign last month, said her children, both in their 20s, are part of the generation for which benefits need to be changed.

“Those are the ones we’re telling the rules have changed — anyone new coming into this system,” said Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “This is how entitlement reform is done. Tell them, it’s not going to be there for you anyway, because Social Security goes bankrupt in 10 years, Medicare goes bankrupt in five. We have to do something.”

Most top Republicans have recently tried to signal their reluctance to touch vesting programs, even though the GOP has a long history of threatening to cut benefits. President Joe Biden, who has promised to “protect and strengthen” the programs, was booed by congressional Republicans when he said during his State of the Union address that “some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to go down.”

Democrats pointed to a plan Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida introduced last year, which calls for all federal spending legislation to expire after five years, in a congressional vote that could preserve the programs. After Biden’s speech, Scott changed the plan to cut Social Security, Medicare, homeland security, veterans benefits and other essential services.

Programs face bankruptcy deadlines. Forecasters say Social Security won’t be able to pay its promised benefits in about a dozen years, and Medicare won’t be able to do so in just five years. Economists say both programs will increase the national debt for decades to come, forcing the next generation of lawmakers to make teeth-grinding choices.

Others in the presidential sphere took up the problem. On Monday in Davenport, Iowa, former President Donald Trump vowed to keep the programs as they are. “I’m not going to cut Medicare and I’m not going to cut Social Security,” he declared.

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Haley proposed raising the retirement age “so it matches life expectancy,” an idea she has mentioned during other campaigns, without outlining a specific age.

According to Haley, entitlement reform should also include a move “to limit benefits to the wealthy” as well as an expansion of Medicare Advantage, in which private companies offer plans that are reimbursed by the government for care.

“Let’s create competition,” Haley said. “There are great programs out there that will bring down health care costs. This is how you manage the budget. That’s what we’re going to do.”

On the age limits, as on the proposals for wealthier Americans, Haley did not elaborate on what she meant.

Since her campaign’s Feb. 15 launch, Haley has made stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, given speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference and Americans for Prosperity gatherings and raised money in New York — though the campaign said it would not release figures for fundraising by the end of the first quarter.


You can find Meg Kinnard at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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