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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:
- Do you think this has any chance of reviving his candidacy (I suspect most of you will say no)?
- 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?