GOP senators propose raising age for Social Security benefits
April 13th, 2011
04:19 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP senators propose raising age for Social Security benefits

Washington (CNN) – On the day President Obama announced his vision for curbing the costs of entitlement programs and reining in the nation's deepening debt, three conservative Republican senators announced their plan to raise the eligibility age for Social Security to 70 while lowering monthly payments to upper-income retirees.

"There is no way in God's green Earth to save America from bankruptcy until you deal with entitlements," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. "Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, combined in the next twenty years, is going to absorb every dollar of revenue coming to this place. There will be no money left for anything else."

Under the plan, sponsored by Graham, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the retirement age for full Social Security benefits would gradually increase to 70 in 2032. After that, the retirement age would be adjusted to match life expectancy. People who earned $43,000 or less on average over the years they worked would be exempt from means-testing while those who made more money would see their monthly payments lowered.

"Upper income Americans under our plan have to give up future benefits. Three, four hundred dollars a month," Graham said. "It's better for them to give up future benefits than it is to raise taxes on them now cause if you raise taxes on them now, some people will lose jobs."

Paul said the plan would keep Social Security solvent for generations without raising taxes or privatizing accounts. Both Paul and Graham support allowing private investment accounts as part of social security but acknowledge there's not enough support in Congress for that to pass.

"There's not enough votes for privatization and there's definitely not the votes for raising taxes," said Paul.

The Republicans' plan smacked into a political reality of its own this week, even before it was unveiled.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who controls the Senate floor, reiterated his belief that Social Security does not contribute to the nation's debt and therefore should not be part of the discussion on entitlement reform.

And in his speech Wednesday, Obama said, "Social Security is not the cause of our deficit" and while "it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older" it must be strengthened "without slashing benefits for future generations."


Filed under: Social Security
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. American Citizen

    Great idea.

    That way they can keep their excessive salaries, help the federal budget, get reelected, maintain an appearance of being fiscally conservative all the while harming the American people!

    Cool.

    Gotta love those incredibly talented national leaders, huh?

    The kind that recently threatened to stop pay to our US Armed Forces? Yeah, those guys.

    April 13, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I'm stunned. I actually agree with the basic thrust of the plan. This is a topic that should be dealt with now.

    April 13, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. GrogInOhio

    Dear GOP Senators... Ways to address the deficit...
    1 – Leave Iraq
    2 – Leave Afghanistan
    3 – Let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire

    You're welcome,
    US Taxpayers

    April 13, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. ART

    The only way to get our deficit under control is to make sure billionaires like Trump and David and Charles Koch pay their fair share of taxes and stop using tax breaks and loop holes that the rich hide behind when its time to pay their taxes like any other American

    April 13, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    There are many people who will benefit greatly by Obama's plan to raise taxes so the Washington politicians don't have to slow down all that wonderful spending. The millions of people who benefit most are those foreign companies competing with American companies in the world economy. Obama's plan makes it much easier for all of our foreign competitors to take business away from American companies.

    April 13, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. al in memphis

    How is 12% of the spending going to send USA into bankrupty? Yeah, everything got to be cut, but I wonder just how it is that entitlements is the only thing we keep hearing about everyday. Makes you wonder why they are screaming so loud just to keep the conversations away from something else - like the other 88% of the budget.

    April 13, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. skitownrefugee

    The republicans are doing everything possible to ensure the reelection of President Obama. They have a slate of potential candidates who belong in a circus sideshow and now this plan for social security that will alienate the seniors who will suspect that this is just the first round in a series of steps to rob them of their retirement safety net as well as younger workers who will wonder if they'll have to wait until they reach 90 to qualify. It appears that we're looking at class warfare – launched by a bunch of rich clowns and it's going to get very ugly. Are we sure that Graham, Paul and Lee were born in this country? I think someone should check.

    April 13, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Julia

    There's no way in in God's green earth you are going to save Amnerica from bankruptcy until the rich and corportaions (corportist country that we are) start payin their fair share to drive onour tax funded interstate highway, call our fire department, calll our police officer, visit our public libraries, send their kids to our public schools, help the poor that need help, No more welfare for the rich and the corporations, then we can have healthcare for all. I'm sick and tired of payin' for the most wealthy and the rich (fascist) corporations.

    April 13, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Name Jeremy from Dallas

    Tea party America. They will soon propose to privatize Capital Hill and then lease it back like Arizona Tea Party Governor and her State members did last year.
    Can you imagine a construction worker/engineer working until 70yrs?
    I would like to save my social security in a different country.... I am tired of this crap!!!!

    April 13, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. A Real American

    Four and The Door
    "There are many people who will benefit greatly by Obama's plan to raise taxes so the Washington politicians don't have to slow down all that wonderful spending. The millions of people who benefit most are those foreign companies competing with American companies in the world economy. Obama's plan makes it much easier for all of our foreign competitors to take business away from American companies."
    April 13, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |

    As if millions of jobs didn't go overseas in the 10 years of the Bush tax cuts. Hey, better tax and spend than borrow and spend like the republicans. At least it's paid for.

    April 13, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. what?

    So let me get this straight. instead of taxing rich people, you guys want to raise the eligibility age on social security? I am so disgusted with Republicans.

    April 13, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. gate

    The wealthiest corporations in this country pay zero taxes and they want the elderly to give up their retirement savings. The GOP is the party of the rich fat cats. They don't give a darn about anyone but millionaires.

    April 13, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    A Real American
    As if millions of jobs didn't go overseas in the 10 years of the Bush tax cuts. Hey, better tax and spend than borrow and spend like the republicans. At least it's paid for.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    ...but Obama borrowed and spent enough to increase America's debt by 40% and he's only half way through his term! With his brand of spending he needs to borrow, tax and sell whatever American national assets he can. He counts on supporters like you who think you have won when everyone in the country is poor. When you have to work 2 weeks to fill your gas tank. When the gold in your mouth is worth more dollars than you made last month.

    April 13, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. LIP

    I am a Republicaqn and do not agree with this concept. I am already collecing what I paid in and am sure that they will come out ahead on that deal, but need to say that the majority of jobs won't keep you or you won't be physically able to do, past a given point, which is well before there 'pie in the sky' age of 70. I think it would be a great idea if they no longer had control of what they get paid and just like the rest of us, buy their own insurance and had to survive 'only' on SS and no longer get all the perks that come with being leeches.

    April 13, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. T'sah from Virginia

    ["Upper income Americans under our plan have to give up future benefits"]

    Why would UPPER INCOME Americans GET benefits. My husband passed and I cannot collect his SS because I make too much.....................I AM NOT RICH – I have NO saving account and live check to check???

    @The Dude – I agree with you wholeheartedly – the statement by Graham in its entirety DOES NOT make sense!!! Jeez!!

    April 13, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. bb

    First of all, one must learn to spell "entitlements". Second of all, I am a Democrat, but even I know that Social Security is being given to very young individuals and illegals, especially here in Maryland. A young lady who dropped out of school, living with her family, just "won" her case for social security because she said she was "too anxious to work" and had other "mental issues'. But she is competent to do everything else. And she has been arrested on multiple occasions for drugs. She also met a "guy" in drug rehab and married him. He is living with the family, but is now serving some jail time.

    The lawyers were not only able to get her social security, but her new husband gets another paycheck from Social Security as her "dependent" which amounts to 50% of the claim. So there goes about 1400 per month to two useless human beings for the next 60 year.

    You should NOT receive social security if you did not pay in it unless you are severely disabled (like blindness, loss of limbs, etc).

    Social Security is mismanaged!!! By al politicians and treasury dept. officials. Don't blame a political party. Stop the wrong people getting it. Including illegals.

    April 13, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Brian

    I am SICK of hearing conservatives call social security and Medicare "entitlements", like someone is giving me something! I have paid into both of those funds since I was a young kid working my way through college. Listen up, conservatives: if you think those are some sort of free gift we're all getting, then give me back all the money I've paid into those funds over the last 25 years and I'll be perfectly happy to let you destroy them. Otherwise, SHUT UP and fund the d*mn programs.

    April 13, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Thankfully Independent

    If you want to deal with the economy, stupid, cut spending AND raise taxes. Doing half a job (cutting spending) just won't work. It's time the GOP sucked it up and admit that taxes must go up too, otherwise it is just same old politics and the deficit won't go away. It would also be really sweet if the Republicans could get some of those big contributors ... er corporations, to pay their fair share too. Are they still giving big oil companies several billions in government subsidies, or did they finally put a stop to that nonsense?

    April 13, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Church o' Realism

    Oh, so $40,000 is now considered upper income, but $250,000 is just middle class, right, remember to vote Republican if you hate yourself and your family.

    April 13, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    READ MY LIPS........employers will NOT keep people over 60 on the payroll, in the future. They simply cost too much..........in terms of longevity impacted salaries.

    Extending the age for SS will create a monstrous problem in the future......when people become unemployed, before they can access their retirement funds.

    Show some intelligence!

    April 13, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. jon

    All the while they are asking to raise the retirement age to 70 and cut the entitlements, when at the same time they are going to add about 5 to 10% to the defense budgets. Just great Really??

    April 13, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. gt

    get your head out of you rear harry ... you spend this social security money now...its not in a lock box....... jerk..

    April 13, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  23. Marie MD

    @As if millions of jobs didn't go overseas in the 10 years of the Bush tax cuts. Hey, better tax and spend than borrow and spend like the republicans. At least it's paid for.
    You are not only right, (four and the door – why don't you walk out and don't let the door hit you-blaming Obama??) but it now turns out that those people doing the low paying oversea jobs that keep Americans jobless are now asking for REAL money! Does this mean that all those cheap labor jobs will be coming back to the US? Those people are waking up to the fact that they are doing cheaper than cheap labor.

    April 13, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Tired of the nonsense

    IThen I want EVERY penny taken from me to support Social Security paid back to me with interest. They can take the money out of Congress' paychecks to pay us back.

    April 13, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. one voice

    No Senator, leave S.S alone. The solution is to repeal the tax breaks for the MEGA RICH, BOOM= PROBLEM SOLVED!!!

    April 13, 2011 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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