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    Clinton and Trump Tangle on Preserving Medicare

    Democrat Hillary Clinton said she would keep Medicare and Social Security solvent with "more resources and smarter decisions," while Republican Donald Trump prescribed a booming economy to preserve the programs in the third and final presidential debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

    Clinton explained what she meant by "more resources."

    "We are going where the money is," she said on the subject of paying for her ambitious domestic spending agenda. "We"re going to ask the wealthy and the corporations to pay their fair share."

    When debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Trump how he would keep Medicare and Social Security afloat, the real estate developer and TV reality-show star replied, "We"re going to grow the economy. It"s going to grow at a record rate."

    "But that"s not going to help entitlements," replied Wallace.

    "It"s going to totally help you," replied Trump, without explaining how. He then proceeded again to declare that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be repealed and replaced. He cited premium increases for exchange policies of 60% to 80% that, according to fact-checkers at the nonpartisan news organization PolitiFact, represent outliers, as opposed to an average increase of anywhere from 4.4% to 13%.

    Clinton countered that the ACA had extended the solvency of Medicare. "So if he repeals it," said the former secretary of state and US senator, "our Medicare problem gets worse."

    Medicare"s board of trustees projects that the Part A trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2028. That will leave the program solely dependent on tax revenue, which is expected to cover 87% of hospital costs that year. The fund for Medicare Part B (physician services) and Part D (prescription drugs) does not run the risk of hitting empty because its general revenue income as well as beneficiary premiums are reset every year to stay in the black.

    The Social Security fund for retirees is expected to run dry in 2035, leaving taxes to cover an estimated 77% of benefits, according to its trustees. They estimate that the Social Security fund for the disabled will be depleted in 2023, with continuing income covering 89% of benefits.

    The two bitterly opposed candidates didn"t delve into the fine points of Medicare and Social Security financing. Through much of the debate, they offered familiar talking points when they commanded the microphone. Trump chastised Clinton for destroying 33,000 emails from her time in the State Department and making foreign policy decisions that, in his opinion, led to the rise of the Islamic State. Clinton ticked off Trump"s insults of women and Mexicans, and said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help Trump get elected with leaked documents because "he"d rather have a puppet as president."

    No love was lost.


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