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February 2016

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Social Security and Medicare?

Washington Watch


As the 2016 presidential primaries and the nomination fights move to the political front burner, a look at the health care and Medicare policies of the candidates raises questions of how far the candidates and their parties want to go in pushing for changes.


Republican presidential candidates are sharply divided over whether to seek drastic changes to Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement funds at the same time as Congressional Republicans continue to push repealing Obamacare.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is advocating dramatically increasing Alzheimer’s disease funding while her chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., wants to get rid of Obamacare altogether by replacing it with a single-payer government-funded “Medicare for all,” system.


More than five years after the president’s health law was enacted, the Republican Party still has no unifying health care platform and only can agree on one thing – they want Obamacare gone. Congress has tried to repeal the legislation more than 60 times with the most recent attempt vetoed by President Obama in early January.


Where the Republican candidates stand on the details of replacing Obamacare, and their views of how they would change Medicare and Social Security are left to theoretical discussions with vague suggestions and hardly any specifics.


Their views are often in sharp contrast with the plan of new House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to pursue a “bold alternative agenda” that would include major changes to entitlement programs.


Several of the candidates including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are battling to be seen as in solidarity with Ryan, while others like Donald Trump are vying for grassroots voters.


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The 40-Day Candy Drought


When I was a kid, Lent was the most dreaded time of the year because it meant only one thing. Candy was off limits from Monday through Saturday. For some reason known only to parents, it was okay on Sunday to devour all the candy bars I hoarded during the week. I’ve never been good at math, but those 40 days of fasting don’t include Sunday. If you count the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, you won’t get 40.


But I never gave that a second thought. All I knew was I had to give up candy. It was drummed into our heads that “giving up” something was the proper way to show God we loved Him, but it wasn’t out of love for God we gave up candy. It was out of obedience to our parents. We had no choice. Mom and Dad laid down the law. Candy was forbidden Monday through Saturday.


I suppose every kid loves candy in all its forms, but I was a purist. Jelly beans stuck to my teeth so they didn’t interest me. Heath bars were too hard, Three Musketeers too soft, Junior Mints too strong. Mounds had too much coconut, Payday too many nuts, and a bridge mix was just too complicated. Chocolate covered cherries were fine once the cherries were spit out and fed to the dogs.


As a purist, I went straight for Cadbury’s Caramello bar. It was the most delicious candy bar ever to land on a store shelf. The brilliant blue wrapping, the crinkle of silver paper, the ooze of velvety smooth caramel all spoke to my sweet tooth.


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