On Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a crowd in New Hampshire that Americans need to consider ways to “phase out” Medicare.
The former Florida governor, who was speaking at an event hosted by the Koch-brothers supported group Americans for Prosperity, also suggested “people understand” and agree with him on the issue.
“They know, and 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,” Bush said. “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.”
Bush’s comments echo the views of former president and brother George W. Bush, who pushed to severely slash Social Security with a controversial reform plan back in 2005. That effort proved overwhelmingly unpopular and failed.
A day before Bush’s Medicare comments, a new report showing the program’s costs to be significantly under what had been previously projected nearly ten years ago, as our own Kevin Drum noted:
Beyond that, it’s always foolish to assume that costs will rise forever just because they have in the past. Medicare is a political program, and at some point the public will decide that it’s not willing to fund it at higher levels. It’s not as if it’s on autopilot, after all. We live in a democracy, and after lots of yelling and fighting, we’ll eventually do something about rising medical costs if we simply don’t think the additional spending is worth it.
Despite the resulting failure of his brother’s plan to do away with Social Security, Bush said he believes that his plan to gradually eliminate Medicare will prove to be a “winning argument if we take it directly to people.”