NORTH AUGUSTA — Entitlement reform “has to happen,” and that means changes in Medicare and Medicaid, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told a group in North Augusta on Monday.
Graham, R-S.C., discussed the country’s debt, Iran’s nuclear program and other issues and in front of nearly 60 people at the North Augusta Municipal Building council chambers.
He told the audience that the biggest driver of the country’s debt is entitlements, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, and that what is paid out for the programs will eventually exceed what is taken in.
Adjusting the retirement age to 69 is one of the things that needs to happen over the next 30 years, he said.
He also advocated that those “in my income level” take less in benefits, by doing things such as paying the full cost of the Medicare premium, so that those who can’t afford it are able to get it.
On the other end, the country also has to grow the economy by creating more jobs, he said.
There should be less regulation and lower taxes, which would encourage companies to create more jobs in the United States. Deductions should be eliminated also, which would bring in more revenue, he said.
Graham also said he believes Iran isn’t building a nuclear power facility but is instead preparing for nuclear weapons.
He said that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, he fears the country would use it to intimidate its neighbors, including Israel, and share the technology with terrorists.
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, who was also spoke briefly, added that “we should take seriously” the things Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said.
The meeting was sponsored by the city of North Augusta and the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce.