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Romney's Entitlement Programs Plan Similar to Ryan's Plan

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- For the second day in a row, Mitt Romney focused his campaign on explaining to voters how his fiscal policy will breach the budget gap and will include making sweeping changes to federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Delivering remarks on Friday at the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" in the nation's capital, Romney laid out his three-pronged plan to reduce spending by $500 billion per year in 2016 to achieve what he says will be a "simpler, smaller and smarter" government.

First debuted in Exeter, N.H., on Thursday evening, Romney's speech explained how if he was elected, would, eliminate and cut some programs, send others back to the states, and improve government productivity and efficiency.

"We need to turn Medicaid back to the states and allow them to craft the health care solutions that suit their citizens best," said Romney.

Senior advisors to the Romney campaign say that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid would be preserved under Romney's plan. Medicaid would still exist, but so would other choices. The current Medicare plan would be made into a premium support system, according to aides, that would allow seniors a fixed-amount of money to purchase health insurance.

The campaign acknowledged that the premium support system is in line with Rep. Paul Ryan's plan, but said the difference between the two lies in Romney’s allowance for the traditional Medicare choice to be available to seniors.

Social Security would also remain under the Romney plan, but the age of retirement would gradually rise to "promote longevity." How that age would rise, or how fast, was not specified by the Romney campaign. The growth of benefits for higher-income retirees would also be slowed under Romney's plan.

"These ideas will give tomorrow's seniors the same kinds of choices that most Americans have in their health care today," said Romney."The future of Medicare should be marked by competition, choice and innovation – rather than bureaucracy, stagnation and bankruptcy. Our path for the future of Social Security and Medicare is honesty and security. Theirs is demagoguery and deception."

"The plan I propose to make government simpler, smaller and smarter represents the biggest fundamental change to the federal government in modern history," he said. "It is a change we must make if the words 'full faith and credit of the United States' are to mean anything at all."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Ryan applauded Romney’s plan, saying, "Look at what he put out! This is a great development. It shows that the elusive adult conversation is taking place, but all on one side."

The audience reaction in Washington, D.C., was notably muted compared to the one received by Romney in New Hampshire less than 24 hours before. The greatest round of applause from the group of conservative activists came when Romney said the "easiest cut" he'd make would be to Obama's health care plan.

The Obama campaign promptly released a statement responding to Romney's plan calling it a "carbon copy of the House Republicans' budget."

"It would wipe out investments essential to creating jobs and promoting growth and would leave millions of older Americans to fend for themselves by privatizing Medicare," wrote Ben LaBolt, the press secretary for Obama for America.

"The fundamental challenge of our time is how we rebuild our economy so that hard work and responsibility are rewarded and that economic security is restored for the middle class," LaBolt said. "Mitt Romney's proposal takes us in exactly the opposite direction: It places a great burden on the middle class and the elderly, and instead of asking all Americans to do their fair share, it continues to offer special breaks for large corporations, millionaires and billionaires."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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