Florida retiree Angela Foti has a message for the Presidential candidates: Hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. “Everybody knows we paid for it, and that’s the way it is,” the 71-year-old says as she sips coffee in the clubhouse at Kings Point, a retirement community outside of Tampa. “I think it’s just stupid to talk about cuts.”
Perilous as it may be—a Bloomberg National Poll in October found majorities of more than 80 percent against reducing Social Security or Medicare benefits—reining in both programs is part of the current political debate. How it plays out in Florida, the largest swing state and home to the nation’s highest concentration of seniors, could help decide who wins the White House next year.
Most Republican Presidential candidates supported House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan to increase the retirement age and transform Medicare into a voucher program. Democrats believed they had been handed a golden campaign issue and were dismayed when President Barack Obama signaled that he would be willing to entertain some changes to Medicare as part of a “grand bargain” that would include tax increases to curb the federal deficit.