Mitt Romney: Transcript of ABC/Yahoo News Exclusive Interview

MITT ROMNEY: You know-- I've been working for a dollar for some time. But I don't think you can-- demand that of-- of everybody who serves in public office. Not everyone has the-- financial means to do so. But-- but I've been working for a dollar since I was-- Governor of Massachusetts. That was-- my view there. We had a tough financial situation, a real crisis in our state, economically. And I-- I said, "I'm not gonna get paid in-- in a setting like this. We have a crisis going on-- today in Washington."

No one-- I don't believe, is talking about cutting benefits for veterans or for seniors. But we are talking about-- a financial crisis, a fiscal crisis that we would expect our president to actually address. He's said nothing about how he's gonna save Social Security, nothing about how he'd fix Medicare. He-- he's always full of criticism.

And actually, the only person I know who's cut Medicare, from the very beginning, is President Obama. He cut Medicare by $500 billion to pay for his Obamacare. Look, what I'll do is I will save Medicare. I will save Social Security. And I'll do so by making them fiscally solvent.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But that will also lead to cutbacks in-- in benefits for some beneficiaries, at least in the future.

MITT ROMNEY: For people who are in their 20s and 30s and 40s and early 50s, they have to ask, "Do they want to have substantially higher taxes to pay for the current program?" And that's something I would oppose. And-- if they want those higher taxes, they can vote for-- for President Obama. I presume that's what his answer will be. Or instead, they can do what I suggest, which is to have the programs more means tested. Meaning people of higher incomes will receive lower benefits than those in more moderate incomes.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And that addresses a problem that we're in so many polls these days. The-- the concern about rising inequality-- in this country. We saw over the last 30 years the income of the top one percent-- rise about five times the rate of the middle class. How-- how big a problem is that?

MITT ROMNEY: You know, I-- I think it is a problem. And I think it flows from the fact that our economy isn't performing as it should. Look, this-- this should be the best place in the world to be middle class. And middleclass Americans are really, really struggling and suffering right now. I mean, you've got higher food prices, gasoline prices, health care costs. And at the same time, during President Obama's three-year term, you've seen median income decline by ten percent in the United States.

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