Republican presidential hopefuls John McCain and Mike Huckabee agree that Americans should have more options when it comes to retirement savings plans. The G.O.P. candidates debated financial security and health care in an A-A-R-P forum in Sioux City last night (Thursday). Arizona Senator McCain said he supports a plan where individuals could choose from three or four personal savings accounts for retirement.
"I think that private savings accounts are things we should give working Americans the option to embrace if they choose to," McCain said. "I think that your money is probably better invested in the American economy…than governed by a federal bureaucrat." Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee said the current Social Security system is outdated because Americans are living longer. He wants to see a plan where retirees have the option of receiving their savings in one lump-sum payment.
"That at the time of retirement, rather than getting the long-term pay-out, taking the option of a one-time pay-out, tax-free with which they could purchase an annuity or give it to their children or their grandchildren or keep it — tax-free," Huckabee said. "It’s their money." The two men also talked about health care. Neither advocate a totally government-run-and-financed system.
McCain has proposed a tax incentive plan that he said would make it easier for consumers to buy private insurance. "So our job I think is to make it affordable and available and not set government mandates, not have big government programs that would increase the cost of health care," McCain said. Huckabee, who changed his diet and lost over 100 pounds after being told he was diabetic, said it’s time for the system to start focusing on ways to get Americans to live healthier lifestyles.
"How can we move this culture of ours, one that says that we’ll pay for a quadruple bypass, but we won’t pay for you to see a nutrition counselor or a trainer that might help you avoid the quadruple bypass?" Huckabee said. "Your coverage will take care of a $30,000 foot amputation, but not a $150 visit to the podiatrist that might have saved your foot." The other Republican presidential candidates declined the invitation to participate in Thursday’s debate.