SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Monday he will solve the nation’s debt crisis by reforming Medicare and Social Security, forcing Congress to balance the federal budget and promoting economic growth.

Speaking at a town hall in his home state, the Florida senator said Democrats and Republicans alike are to blame for a national debt that is expected to hit $20 trillion next year, calling it the “most predictable crisis in American history.”

“Every time the alarm starts blaring, signaling we’re reaching the debt ceiling, Washington hits the snooze button and goes back to sleep,” Rubio said in prepared remarks before the meeting. “I will stop this irresponsible spending and solve our nation’s debt crisis.’

Rubio said he would put Social Security and Medicare on “fiscally sustainable paths,” without laying out specifics. But he has said he would gradually raise the retirement age, though not for those in or near retirement. On Medicare, he has proposed giving seniors the option of keeping it or enrolling with a private insurance company.

He also said he would back a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution, to pass amendments dealing with a balanced budget and term limits for members of Congress.

Conservative groups have been pushing for such an event, which has never happened since the original convention in 1787. Rubio said he supported a convention limited to those two topics.

He said he would grow the U.S. economy by lowering taxes for individuals and businesses, eliminating burdensome regulations and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before it “repeals and replaces any more American jobs.”

He also said he opposes a “value-added tax,” which is akin to a sales tax and would replace the current payroll and corporate income tax. He didn’t mention them by name, but Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have advocated a value-added tax.

Many tax experts like the value-added tax since it is simpler and less likely to include loopholes for special interest groups. He did not mention them by name, but Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have advocated a value-added tax.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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