Seniors Flex their Muscles in Florida Republican Primary

Retirement living has a dramatic side when it comes to politics. Niche groups in democratic election often can sway outcomes. This phenomenon is very clear in Florida's Republican primary where many seniors live and have strong views about issues dear to them.

Medicare and Social Security are key concerns to senior Floridians and many are disenchanted with the GOP candidates, feeling that they have been absent from debates and speeches.

Ralph Lawson, a 71-year-old retired financial planner from Dracut, Mass, told the Boston Globe: “I think the candidates want to stay away from it, keep it quiet until after the primaries. He added: “They don’t want to upset seniors, the majority of the voters here.”

Sarasota County has nearly a third of Florida's seniors and is a critical battleground of conflicting political ideology. Medicare turned into an incendiary political concern last year. Democrats will again keep the fire burning in this year’s general elections. Last spring, the Republican backed Congressional House Republicans passed a budget that included the privatization of Medicare and the restriction of the value of vouchers to the general inflation rate. The Senate scraped the budget, with some Republicans retreating from the overhaul of Medicare.

Views from GOP powerhouses have varied:

  • The Tea Party advocates Medicare privatization.
  • Newt Gingrich supports the Medicare prescription drug benefit despite its expense.
  • Mitt Romney plans to constrain escalating costs by increasing the eligibility age and allowing seniors to select from traditional Medicare or federal vouchers to purchase private insurance.

Dr. Thomas O’Malley, an 80-year-old physician, firmly backs the Democrats approach to universal health care. He told the Globe: “Privatizing Medicare would be an unmitigated disaster’' He said that supporters of GOP alternatives, including some of his patients, are incorrect because private enterprise would expand the costs of care. “They’re nuts,” O’Malley told the media source. “They don’t know what’s good for them.”