President Bush and Sen. John Kerry sparred Wednesday over the role the federal government should play in expanding access to health coverage and protecting Americans’ retirement income.[@@]
The candidates faced off on national television in Tempe, Ariz., during the third presidential debate.
Bush talked once again about his belief that the government should strengthen the health and retirement systems by giving more control to citizens, by encouraging use of the new health savings accounts and creating a system of personal Social Security investment accounts.
Bush hastened to reassure the senior citizens who already collect Social Security checks. Despite predictions made when Bush was elected in 2000 that he would destroy the Social Security system “people get their checks and will continue to get their checks,” Bush said.
But the government should let younger workers increase the rate of return on their earnings by adding individually managed accounts to the Social Security program, Bush said.
“The cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of saving the Social Security program,” Bush said.
In the area of health care, costs are skyrocketing partly because “most health care costs are covered by third-party payers,” Bush said.
Simply improving information technology could cut 20% of the health care system’s costs, and the new HSAs could help cut costs even more by reminding patients of the true cost of health care, Bush said.
Kerry argued against the idea of privatizing any of Social Security’s assets.