So what exactly did U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann mean when she called recently for weaning people off Social Security and Medicare?
Does Minnesota's Sixth District congresswoman want to eliminate the programs, or does she support Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Medicare and Medicaid?
Spokesman Dave Dziok offered an explanation via e-mail Thursday:
"Rep. Bachmann does not want to end Social Security and Medicare. Absolutely not. But the truth is, they need to be fixed in how they're administered because under their current structure, they can't be maintained without increasing the debt burden placed on future generations. Further, she stated clearly that people who are receiving these benefits now should continue to do so in their current form. We made them a promise and we need to keep it.
"Going forward, Congress needs to address the lack of sustainability for America's future seniors and give realistic options for younger Americans to invest and save for their future. Whether it's a thrift savings plan like the one all government employees enjoy, personally owned accounts that are transferable to your children or one of many other options, her ears and mind are open to a slew of different ideas. That's a stark contrast to her opponents who would rather carry on with the same old talking points, ignoring the financially precarious position all of these programs are in and continue to borrow and borrow and pile on the debt.
"The numbers speak for themselves and no one can dispute them: These programs are simply unsustainable under their current structure. The Democrats have proposed cutting $500 billion from Medicare to fund their health care plan instead of looking at ways to fix it. So seniors have to ask themselves, 'Who's really looking out for your retirement promises?'"