In high-profile speech, Christie calls for Social Security retirement age to be raised
February 16th, 2011
02:55 PM ET
4 years ago

In high-profile speech, Christie calls for Social Security retirement age to be raised

Washington (CNN) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to the nation's capital Wednesday with a message for Democrats and Republicans alike: the country is "teetering on the edge of disaster" unless the government's looming fiscal problems are confronted head-on.

"It's put up or shut up time," Christie declared in a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in downtown Washington.

Christie called on President Obama and members of Congress to stop tip-toeing around the need to reform entitlement spending and said bluntly that the retirement age for Social Security must be raised or the program risks becoming insolvent by 2037.

"There, I just said it!" Christie joked, tweaking other politicians who tend to avoid specifics when discussing Social Security reform. "I'm still standing here, and I did not vaporize."

Christie, who was elected in 2009, boasted about bringing "a new approach and new discipline" to Trenton, where he has famously butted heads with legislators over spending cuts and clashed with teacher's unions over school reform.

The governor said voters appreciate his blunt talk. "People are ready to hear the truth," he said.

He demanded that leaders in Washington address the "big things" - specifically fixing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - instead of putting them aside for someone else to deal with.

"The old playbook says lie, deceive, obfuscate, make it to the next election," he said. "Leadership today in America today in America has to be about doing the big things and being courageous. That's what it has to be about."

Christie has insisted over and over again that he has no plans to run for the White House in 2012 despite having a loyal following among Republicans who admire his brash style and efforts to trim a bloated budget in New Jersey.

But Christie, addressing a standing-room only crowd peppered with reporters from major newspapers and television networks, sounded very much like a politician ramping up his national profile.

"In Jersey they call me impatient," he said. "Ladies and gentleman, I think it's time for some impatience in America."

After his speech, Christie took several questions from reporters and audience members. Not surprisingly, Christie was asked right off the bat if he would consider running for president.

Christie admitted that there is room for him to run - "I am not stupid," he noted. "I see the opportunity. I see it." - but he said that's not reason enough to take the plunge.

"You have to believe in your heart and in your mind that you are ready and I don't believe that in myself right now," he said. "So that's why I said I won't run and I can't imagine that changing."

Democrats dismissed Christie's talk as empty rhetoric.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, accused Christie of pursuing "fiscally reckless" policies like cutting school funding.

"The issue of budget management deserves a serious discussion, not merely a set of slick 'tough guy' sound bites," O'Malley said in a statement. "And as the nation's governors are set to convene in Washington next week, it's an issue we look forward to debating."


Filed under: 2012 • Chris Christie
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. maf

    What do you want to raise the age to?? Specifics??
    More GOP blather about confronting things head-on, without offering concrete proposals to back up the statements.

    Must be embarrassing to be a Republican these days!!

    February 16, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Alex

    How come Republicans only want the Middle-class to sacrifice? Raise the social security age? Fine, then TAX the RICH!

    February 16, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. PD.

    This will be the death kneel of the Republican Party. Are the Republicans really willing to tell the MILLIONS of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, "So sorry. You just have to wait to get what you have payed for.". No way! As a woman who is 44, I will tell you that it won't fly. PERIOD!

    February 16, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. one voice

    WRONG AGAIN IDIOT!!! Ending the WELFARE TAX CUTS for the FILTHY RICH, OIL COMPANIES and Corporations that SEND OUR JOBS OVERSEES is the ROOT OF OUR PROBLEMS. The GOP FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL for their CORPORATE MASTERS BUT DON'T GIVE A DAMN about the ELDERLY and the MIDDLE CLASS that is the BACKBONE to our once great country.

    February 16, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Texas Doc

    Sure, big old tubby guy like him will most likley die at a hot dog eating contest way before he reaches that golden age. So suck it up the rest of you.

    February 16, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    This is leadership in action. Thank you, Governor Christie. We need to fix the things that are broken. Nobody in the country can say Social Security is not broken. It's an important enough program to spend the effort to make it right. How does Obama think he will get away with ignoring it? Fortunately the Republicans will make him step up and admit there's a problem.

    February 16, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Lola

    I like Christie. At least he's got the balls to say what needs to be said. As for O'Malley's accusation of Christie cutting school funding...well, folks that so called funding is really about the teachers being asked to foot a percentage of their medical premium and nothing that directly affects the school's operations. New Jersey is broke and the bloated entitlement programs given to the teachers union need to be cut, simple as that.

    February 16, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Totally impractical, and unworkable idea. Employers will NOT keep people to age 70.

    February 16, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Mickey, NY

    ["It's put up or shut up time," Christie declared..."]

    Yes, governor, it is put up or shut up time...time to PUT up the THOUSANDS of jobs that you took from New Jersey by killing the commuter tunnel. What you didn't take into considertion in your little peabrain was the fact that now you have to pay back $251 MILLION to the feds. So you screw the New Jersey taxpayers twice: once in killing THOUSANDS OF JOBS, and again by having to pay back the $251 MILLION. Nice going, asshole.

    You are a disgrace, and will be a ONE TERM GOVERNOR. Your next career will be at FoxNews.

    February 16, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. marty

    If Mr. Christie had real courage he would simply raise the cap for wage earners. Milk, bread, gasoline and other needs have risen over the years dramatically affecting citizens, so should the amount deducted from the wages. The middle class works just as hard for their money as does the wealthier, who benefit from corporate welfare. The playing field is not even.

    February 16, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. liz

    Social Security deductions are mandatory. Workers didn't volunteer the money to the Feds, nor have we ever had a chance to vote on this forced savings. It was for the workers to have something when we retire. No choice, they took our money and made a verbal contract with us. At X age you can get your money. Then they raised the age. And every stinking year we hear about how broke s.s. is; we need to raise the retirement age even more; it's going to run out by xxxx date. How about giving all the money back to those who have paid in, let us find our own retirement funds. And then the Feds can shut up about it and take their greedy hands out of that stash of money. It'll cut government expenditures, get rid of a huge federal department and save OUR tax dollars. How about that? And how about if the general public joins the same retirement fund as government workers. How come soc. sec. isn't for them? Where is their money and is that fund running out? Just like the health program. We were assured we'd have the same options as government. What a giant laugh. They make darned sure they get taken care of. Social Security could end and the world won't stop. Give us our lump sum and let us worry about how to invest it. Social Security is the biggest socialist program in the USA. The government forces us to give them XX dollars each month so they can save it for us. Because we're too stupid to save for our later years. But then they give it to people who haven't worked. And give it to children if the working parent dies.
    We are being led like sheep. Give us our money and end this socialist nonsense.

    February 16, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. azmary

    Later retirement is O.K. if one works in an air-conditioned office and pushes nothing heavier than paper, but what about the people who do heavy manual labor? Even with improved technology, many real jobs require lifting over 50 lbs several times a day, climbing ladders while carrying 30-50 lbs and walking many miles a day as part of the job. People wear out and need to retire with a health plan and benefits, not be told to keep working for another 5 years or so.

    February 16, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    No sir, you did not vaporize: too much mass. Your ego prevents vaporization as well. Implosion, now thats a possibility.

    February 16, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Rick - Former Marine, Liberal

    I would bet there are some major skeletons in this closet. And "it's time for some impaitence.?" Well I guess it compliments the paranoia, insecurity, and xenophobia of the RepubTeacant Party.

    February 16, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Mikey

    I can't say I disagree. When the SS age was set at 65, that was close to the life expectancy. Modest age increases over time are warrented. I would even go for some needs based formulas for eligibility. We also need to reform public employee pensions. Too many public employees are retiring in their 50's and then getting benefits for 30 years. Many are double dipping on pensions, or working an additional 10 or 20 years at another job after "retiring". Police and firefighters certainly should be able to retire by 60 and as should others who abuse the bodies in their jobs. However, teachers, administrators, and clerical workers can easily work until 65. And if you haven't read previous posts of mine, I am a progressive and a huge Obama supporter. Pragmatism and common sense tempered with compassion should be our guides in public policy.

    February 16, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. HR

    He should be urging congress to start replacing the near 3 trillion dollars that they "stole" from people who paid into SS – future payments should be taken out of the general fund and set aside for SS – had they done that earlier there would be no shortage – time for a wake up call in congress – they should reduce their pensions first.

    February 16, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. ja

    al of the genius dummies calling the rertirement age to be raised, well if everyone had a walk in the park job such as his and many others thar employ assistants to wipe them, cook, and wash, lets cut christe's pay for the remainder of his term, cut the benies of those who reaolluy don't need them and claim to be public servants, such as governors, state and federal legislators

    February 16, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. sonny chapman

    Impatience: Isn't that what led America into an invasion & occupation of Iraq ?

    February 16, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Rickster

    Raising the ss retirement age will not solve the problem. We'll be right back here is a few years asking the same questions and getting the same answers and before we know it, the ss retirement age will be 90 so nobody will be able to collect it. Here's a better solution: give me all the money that has been confiscated from me through the years and I'll take care of my own retirement.

    February 16, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. Joan

    The Republicans posturing over cutting the deficit is disturbing and frankly baffling. If America had the trillions of dollars spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and was given in subsidies to big oil companies like Haliburton then it would be in pretty good shape. Don't forget that when Bush came into office there was a surplus and when he handed it over to Pres. Obama there were two wars, a recession and huge deficit. President Obama knows you can't cut a lot during a recession and he is looking at the long term. The Republicans are just looking at the next election so they want to obstruct more of the Presiden's programs. The Republican governors like Scott who are turning down federal money to build railways and other infrastructure programs are only doing it because it is coming from a Democrat. If the President was Republican it would be a different story. They are cutting off their noses in spite of their face because it would create jobs, improve transportation in their states and aid their economies.

    February 16, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. ja

    all of the genius dummies calling the rertirement age to be raised, well if everyone had a walk in the park job such as his and many others that employ assistants to wipe them, cook, and wash, lets cut christe's pay for the remainder of his term, cut the benies of those who really don't need them and claim to be public servants, such as governors, state and federal legislators,

    February 16, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. JOhn

    So 2 months ago when the repulicans demaned 700 Billion in defecit spending to be given to the only people in America not hurt by the Bush recession or they would shut down all votes, where was this "crisis" then?

    When Bushco and the repulican war machine where spending like crazy, thier story was "defecits don't matter".

    We need to stop paying attention to these polticians that use our problems to subtitute thier lack of ideas and policies. Repulcians only bounce around in the wind to whatever "crisis" they can use to stir up thier base. The communist threat the was going to destory us all, the Godless idea of women choosing thier own beleifs, the evil mulsim WMD threat and now the defecit.

    February 16, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. WmH

    "Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, accused Christie of pursuing "fiscally reckless" policies like cutting school funding." – Is this really the best they've got? This doesn't even make sense. "Fiscally reckless" would mean spending above their means, not making budget cuts. Secondly, NJ is so wrapped up in teacher's unions that cutting their budget is the only way to deal with it.

    February 16, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. lgny

    Congratulations for touching the "third rail". At the same time as extending the retirement age, let's raise the income cap for additional assurance of sufficient funding.

    February 16, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Realistic

    Ok Gov. Christie, here is a the thing, if we do cahnge the age limit or raise it as its being considered, 10-30 years from now we will be in the same place. Why? Simple, it S/S has a surplus sometime in the future, the gov't, mostly republicans will vote to confiscate it and use it to give tax breaks to the wealthy or start a war or blow it some other way. And if democrats are in charge and see a surplus, they will find a way to add more people to it or waste it some other way. Either way, its all political BS in the end. Politcians can not help themselves and thats the truth, so find another way because we know what happens when a surplus comes around..here is a clue, George Bush, Clinton left a surplus and Bush used it for the war in Iraq..Surplus just means the politicians will just waste it..Nope, find another way..

    February 16, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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