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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio's Social Security comments may have handed Crist next attack



UPDATE: Rubio campaign says it was Crist who delivered an opportunity. See jump.

The Charlie Crist campaign is sure to jump on Marco Rubio telling a national TV audience that he raising the retirement age for Social Security has "got to be part of the solution" for the the troubled social program.

"I think that has to be on the table. That's got to be part of the solution, the retirement age gradually increases for people of my generation. I think it's got to be part of..." Rubio said.

Chris Wallace: Would you change cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security?

Rubio: "I think all of that has to be on the table, including the way we index increases in cost of living. All of these issues have to be on the table. They have to be options that I would be open to. They are included in the Ryan roadmap. I think it's the right approach to Social Security reform."

Rubio is far from alone in this thinking; many experts agree. But in retirement-rich Florida it could be dangerous territory.

"The idea of having a higher age for people to be able to be eligible for Social Security really flies in the face of an awful lot of my fellow Floridians and it's something that I would not advocate, Crist said in the debate."I think we need to take the fraud out of Social Security, the waste, as with -- it is in Medicare as well."

WALLACE:  But the question I have for you is you're saying that even for people under the age of 55 you would not raise the retirement age or you wouldn't change the cost-of-living adjustment?

CRIST:  No, I would not.  No, I would not do that.

WALLACE:  Well, I mean, with all due respect, sir, waste and fraud -- I mean, it's the -- people have been talking about it for years.  Don't you actually have to make some benefit changes if you're going to deal with this debt issue?

CRIST:  Well, I think you might have to make some, but I think what you want to do first is get the waste--

WALLACE:  Such as what?

CRIST:  .. and the fraud out.

WALLACE:  What would you--

CRIST:  Getting the waste and the fraud out.  I think you have to have strict enforcement.  You have to understand that you have to have U.S. attorneys that go after this with a serious approach and realize that in order for these programs to be able to survive so that my children and my grandchildren have an opportunity to be able to benefit from them, we have to spend less by getting waste and fraud out of these systems.

Statement from Rubio campaign:

“It was stunning to watch Charlie Crist express his willingness to let Social Security go bankrupt.  Pretending that combating ‘waste and fraud’ will protect the retirement benefits of seniors makes Governor Crist unfit to serve as Florida’s next U.S. senator.

"Florida’s next U.S. senator must be someone like Marco Rubio who will protect and strengthen Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations.  This debate highlighted another fundamental difference between the Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist.  Marco Rubio will protect Social Security, while Charlie Crist is willing to stand by and allow the system to go bankrupt.”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:25am]


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