Christie Starts the Ball Rolling?

 

Yesterday, Gov. Chris Christie gave a speech in New Hampshire advocating for means-testing Social Security, starting with those who have a post-retirement annual income of $80,000 and completely phasing it out for those with more than $200,000. While this is likely an attempt to revive his flagging electoral chances in the primaries, it demonstrates leadership by tackling entitlement reform, the ‘third rail of American politics:

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Gov. Chris Christie called for reduced Social Security benefits for retired seniors earning more than $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up in other income, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67.

The changes would not apply to current retirees or those near retirement, but could help keep Social Security sustainable for future generations, Mr. Christie said. Not acting would jeopardize longevity of Social Security and other entitlement programs, he said, and potentially lead to massive tax increases to prop them up.

Mr. Christie’s proposal in many ways would go beyond the most detailed overhaul that Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) proposed, in 2010. He advocated allowing workers 54 years old and younger to shift a portion of Social Security payroll tax payments into private retirement-savings accounts. The proposal would also have very gradually increased the retirement age, which is already on pace to reach 67 years in 2026, to 70.

Mr. Christie’s proposal to curb benefits to restore solvency comes as Democrats rush headlong in a different direction. Several Democrats, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is weighing a presidential run, have called for expanding Social Security benefits, embracing a longtime priority of progressives that until recently had gained little traction with party leaders.

I have two questions for the Ricochetti:

  1. Do you think this has any chance of reviving his candidacy (I suspect most of you will say no)?
  2. More importantly, if he makes it to the primary debates, will the other candidates be forced to embrace entitlement reform, and will this help or hurt the 2016 nominee who does that?

 

There are 45 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    The main issue is trust. If we set it at $80,000.00 today, what will the Democrats have it at tomorrow. After all, we found out that millionaires and billionaires meant an annual income of how much was it? Was it $100,000? $25,000? I don’t remember what the number turned out to be in Obamacare, but it was far less than millions. So, if we trust this today, will it be those over $25,000 when the next Democrat comes in?

    We know we can’t trust Democrats, and the Republicans in power are also highly suspect.

    • #1
  2. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    @Arahant- Eh, maybe, but is that likely, given how controversial it is to even propose any changes in entitlements? And if the Dems do lower the income minimum, if that was combined with spending restraint, wouldn’t that be a good outcome?

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    TeamAmerica:@Arahant- Eh, maybe, but is that likely, given how controversial it is to even propose any changes in entitlements? And if the Dems do lower the income minimum, if that was combined with spending restraint, wouldn’t that be a good outcome?

    Is Christie’s nomination any more likely because of this? Will his election, if nominated, be any more likely? Or will the Democrats use it as the old “They’re Taking It Away” club?

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Politically, Christie’s idea will be difficult for the Democrats to criticize, since it only targets the relatively rich.

    Economically, it’s a dreadful idea, as it creates bad incentives:

    • High-earning Social Security recipients will have a major disincentive to work.  Do we really want to drive such productive people out of the work force?  Among other things, this would reduce income tax revenue.
    • Assuming that Christie’s proposal applies to all income, it will give a further disincentive for Social Security recipients to sell assets that would generate capital gains.  This will also reduce income tax revenue.
    • And, of course, it creates a further disincentive to save and invest prior to retirement, as those who save — and receive high incomes from their investments — will lose their Social Security.
    • #4
  5. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    @Arahant- “Is Christie’s nomination any more likely because of this? Will his election, if nominated, be any more likely? Or will the Democrats use it as the old “They’re Taking It Away” club?”

    That wasn’t my basic point. (I suspect that Christie’s image of being a bully, of not being loyal to his party as well as the Bridge lane closings, have likely precluded his chances of being our nominee in 2016)  Although I think he would be an excellent debater, both in the primaries and general election, and his sense of humor would make him an excellent foil to a hostile media.

    My real question is whether he will force the other candidates to embrace entitlement reform, and whether that would be an advantage or disadvantage in the 2016 general election.

    • #5
  6. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    @Arizona Patriot- “Economically, it’s a dreadful idea, as it creates bad incentives:

    • High-earning Social Security recipients will have a major disincentive to work.  Do we really want to drive such productive people out of the work force?  Among other things, this would reduce income tax revenue.
    • Assuming that Christie’s proposal applies to all income, it will give a further disincentive for Social Security recipients to sell assets that would generate capital gains.  This will also reduce income tax revenue.
    • And, of course, it creates a further disincentive to save and invest prior to retirement, as those who save — and receive high incomes from their investments — will lose their Social Security.”
    • Maybe, but it would essentially be a cut in Social Security expenditures, not a tax increase.
    • #6
  7. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Decent message and an issue that needs addressing.

    No he can’t repair his image in the short term.  Lose weight, stay ethical, don’t cozy up to the worst president in history, and focus on government reforms for 8 years.  Maybe then.

    He has the guts, managerial experience, charisma, and brains to be an even greater leader.  Not now though.

    • #7
  8. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I’d support him over Bush in a heartbeat  ;-).

    • #8
  9. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Just say no to Christie.

    • #9
  10. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Social Security is already rigged against top earners on the payout. It was intended to be a means of retirement savings not a welfare program as it is now.

    • #10
  11. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    @PHCheese- “was intended to be a means of retirement savings not a welfare program as it is now.”

    As far as I know, Social Security was first established in late 19th century Prussia/Germany, where it was a form of retirement insurance for the small minority who lived to be 65, when the average person died at the age of 45. Most people were expected to never need it.

    • #11
  12. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    DocJay:I’d support him over Bush in a heartbeat ;-).

    Doc

    I am not sure I feel that way any longer after reading Andy Ferguson’s report on Jeb.  Initially I was an anyone but Jeb since I thought we need to move beyond another Bush/Clinton cage ball match up. Additionally, I was not too keen on his unwavering support for Common Core and his immigration stance.

    If I had to chose between Christy’s gubernatorial record’s and Jeb’s (which is the only true measure of how they would each govern) it’s a no brainer…. Perhaps Jeb could get his name legally changed.

    III

    • #12
  13. TeamAmerica Member
    TeamAmerica
    @TeamAmerica

    @GLDIII- “If I had to chose between Christy’s gubernatorial record’s and Jeb’s (which is the only true measure of how they would each govern) it’s a no brainer…. Perhaps Jeb could get his name legally changed.”

    Could you say how they compare? Also, to be fair, did Jeb Bush have to deal with a solidly Democratic state legislature in a solidly Democratic state.

    • #13
  14. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Jeb cannot win. I understand he’s a very capable man.

    • #14
  15. user_50776 Inactive
    user_50776
    @AlKennedy

    TeamAmerica:As far as I know, Social Security was first established in late 19th century Prussia/Germany, where it was a form of retirement insurance for the small minority who lived to be 65, when the average person died at the age of 45. Most people were expected to never need it.

    That was also true in the US when Social Security was passed in 1934.  The life expectancy of the average male was less than 65.

    • #15
  16. user_50776 Inactive
    user_50776
    @AlKennedy

    First, do you think this has any chance of reviving his candidacy?

    Second, if he makes it to the primary debates will the other candidates be forced to embrace entitlement reform, and will this help or hurt the 2016 nominee who does that?

    1)  I don’t think it will revive his presidential prospects for 2016.  He is still young and he may compete after 2016.

    2)  I don’t think it will “force” other candidates to embrace entitlement reform.  Some or all may do so in a general sense, but they won’t present detailed recommendations as how it should be done, particularly in regard to Social Security.  They do not want to see ads that were run against Paul Ryan showing him pushing grandma off the cliff.

    In order to get support for entitlement reform, you must campaign on it.  That was the mistake that George W Bush made in 2004, when he tried to get support for something he did not campaign on, and ultimately failed.

    The economy is still too fragile for an entitlement reform campaign to succeed in 2016.  A conservative has to win the presidency in 2016 and implement policies to get the economy growing at least double the current rate.  If successful, then an entitlement reform agenda can and should be a major feature of the 2020 campaign.

    Reforming entitlements is only half of the solution.  The other half is to get the economy growing significantly faster than it is today and generate government revenues that can reduce the future liability and/or the national debt.  And of course, the temptation will be to spend the additional revenues.

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @MatthewSinger

    Ain’t gonna work.  Anecdotal, but…  My mother in law is a fairly reliable conservative. Don’t think she ever has voted for a D.  Complains about govt spending, regulation, all the usual stuff…

    But don’t even think about touching my SS or or Medicare! (And raise my checks)

    • #17
  18. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Christie sounds like a fighter. That’s what we need. Gentleman Jeb comes across as someone who’s not willing to put on the brass knuckles and take it to the Democrat and the media every day.

    I’m too suspicious of a back stab on immigration, 2nd amendment, &tc. to support Christie  in the primary, but I’ll support him in the general. Since I live in Illinois, it almost doesn’t make any difference anyway.

    Social Security is a big sh*t sandwich and we’re all going to have to take a bite. I don’t think his proposal to reform Social Security is going to fly though. The problem with his proposed means testing (as Arahant and others have pointed out) is it starts at 80k and tapers down to 200k today. But it wouldn’t be long before anyone with any assets would be means tested out. The Leftists would still remove the cap on taxable earnings first chance they get.

    There’d have to be a lot more sweetener, like dropping the age after which you’re exempt from FICA to maybe SO (and exempting businesses from paying the “employer” portion as well). Which the Left would also remove first chance they get.

    Raising the age to collect full benefits to 69? OK, at least that’s something the Left will leave in place. But where are those people going to work in their 50s and 60s? There is terrific age discrimination and I doubt that’s going to change. It becomes very difficult to find a job after your employer of 20 years kicks you to the curb when you’re in your early 50s. Unless you’re a government employee with lifetime tenure and a defined benefit pension plan of course. And they’ll fight like Leonidas at Thermopylae to defend that.

    I doubt Christie’s taking this stance will force any other Republican pols to address it in the primary. Although since he’s lobbed the hand grenade into the tent they will need to be prepared to field the question with something besides a deer in the headlights look and stammering.

    • #18
  19. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    To AP’s point, Christie’s means-testing is not broad-based entitlement reform. This is, once again, going after the ever-more-burdened minority at the top. It is a more subtle form of class warfare, trying to give the majority something for nothing by taking it from “the rich”. Well, most of that “rich” group is not trust fund heirs. They are, by and large, producers. This idea is not only detrimental economically over the long haul because it disincentivizes production. It is socially corrosive too.

    • #19
  20. user_157053 Member
    user_157053
    @DavidKnights

    Bad idea.

    Won’t help Christie.

    No other candidate can or should touch the issue.

    The opponent’s likely candidate is vulnerable.  The GOP candidate needs to run a general “The US is great and can recover from the mess they’ve gotten us into campaign”  Optimistic and general.  Attack the opponents on their vulnerabilities, which in the case of Clinton, are legion.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    I don’t think he ever cracks into the top tier.  I think at this point he’s running for VP, especially taking a hardline approach to entitlements.

    • #21
  22. user_337201 Inactive
    user_337201
    @EricWallace

    If this is Christie’s opening (reopening) move for a presidential run, it looks like he’s following Paul Ryan’s model: create a solid proposal, get all the initial hysteria over with, then campaign on the substance left standing. Pushing grandma off a cliff? Democrats already used it on Ryan and Christie might calculate that the public is fed up with those strategies now.

    Alternate theory: Christie has decided against a presidential run. He wants to keep a national presence and even show some conservative spine so he offers a proposal that he knows will provoke liberal insanity. When he sets his own ground, Christie can take the hits and fight back with some style. Christie not being a candidate disarms some of the liberal non sequitur arguments.

    Either way, I think it helps the 2016 candidates by getting the issue out early and forcing the professional activists to burn up their rage before it matters. Christie may actually enable the candidates to have a good debate in public about solving the problem.

    • #22
  23. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    To use a Jerseyism,
    ” He’s dead to me.”

    • #23
  24. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    My favorite SS reform plan is to make SS a flat benefit based only on when you retire, but then sweeten the pot with removing SS taxes on wages and salaries for people over the minimum retirement age.

    • #24
  25. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Ok with the idea, not the candidate.   He can’t control his temper.  I don’t want the man with the football to have a temper he can’t control.

    • #25
  26. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Tommy De Seno:Ok with the idea, not the candidate. He can’t control his temper. I don’t want the man with the football to have a temper he can’t control.

    Even the President has to have someone to agree with him in the employment of nuclear weapons.

    • #26
  27. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Raising the Retirement Age?  Great plan.  Do it yesterday.

    Means test Social Security down to zero for high earners?  Dreadful plan.  It further punishes the exact people who paid for the system the most in the first place.

    Creating private accounts for people so that they have a stake in their future, one which they may even be able to pass on to their heirs?  Great plan.  Do it 30 years ago.

    Reviving Chris Christie’s already dead Presidential prospects?  Snowballs in Hell.

    Where was this idea a year ago?  It smacks of a sort of desperation to get to the right of the field on at least one issue – desperation which would be quickly dropped if he gained any traction in the polls.

    • #27
  28. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Majestyk:Raising the Retirement Age? Great plan. Do it yesterday.

    Means test Social Security down to zero for high earners? Dreadful plan. It further punishes the exact people who paid for the system the most in the first place.

    Creating private accounts for people so that they have a stake in their future, one which they may even be able to pass on to their heirs? Great plan. Do it 30 years ago.

    This. It’s good to see Christie raise the issue of entitlements, off-balance-sheet liabilities, and solvency. But his solutions tend toward the consensus, Bloombergian, technocratic manage-the-socialist-state-better-than-Dems type. When he supports a bold move toward the free market and equality under the rule of law, maybe I’ll get excited.

    • #28
  29. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    If you pay money in, you should be able to get money out.

    If we are going to admit that it is welfare benefit, as opposed to a retirement benefit that you paid into your whole life, than stop the separate accounting and just make it part of welfare.

    • #29
  30. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Vance Richards:If you pay money in, you should be able to get money out.

    If we are going to admit that it is welfare benefit, as opposed to a retirement benefit that you paid into your whole life, than stop the separate accounting and just make it part of welfare.

    I would say stop the separate tax as well – but for a large number of Americans that is the only tax on income they pay.

    • #30

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