In high-profile speech, Christie calls for Social Security retirement age to be raised
February 16th, 2011
02:55 PM ET
12 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. Rick in AZ

    Raising the retirement age on Social Security will increase unemployment. Young people will not have access to the work force with so many elderly workers. The simple fix for Social Security is to raise the cap from $106k to $250k. Problem solved.

    February 16, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Kathy he wants to raise the age of retirement.....just what is needed. Let's hope if his house s on fire, that the fireman at age 70 can drag a hose to his house. Or how about that 72 year od mechanic changing your tire on your car.....

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

    If Americans are scared, these idiots scare this way....thus story ended....this guy has no clue as to what he is saying....period....bunch of rascals voted, he won...i guess...i would not have voted for this idiot....fatty...

    February 16, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. CNN The Masters of Spin

    Way to Go Christie! Get ready all you Lib Welfare Takers......Get a jump on the rush and go look in the Yellow Pages under
    " EMPLOYMENT".....NEXT UP....Entitlements! Have a nice day.

    February 16, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. lou

    Bad idea. We want them to retire and open up the job market to a younger generation. As a business owner I can hire 2-4 new recruits for the same amount I pay a 20-30 year employee.

    February 16, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Robert Nicholson

    The misconceptions about Social Security need to stop. The system is NOT insolvent by 2037. The only answer is NOT to raise the retirement age (raise the tax income cap, change the COLA are two of many other solutions). And, Social Security has NOTHING (zero) to do with the current deficit. There needs to be much more accurate reporting of this or people like Gov. Christie will be able to keep repeating errors until they are believed.

    February 16, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    sonny chapman
    Impatience: Isn't that what led America into an invasion & occupation of Iraq ?
    You have it confused with a ruthless violent dictator who not only was violating the agreements he signed to stay in power after losing a war with the US and its allies, but was taking for his own luxuries humanitarian funds intended for Iraq's population.

    February 16, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. A True Centrist

    People, you are missing the point. Social security was never intended to be anyone's full was supposed to be a supplement to your retirement! This doesn't raise the age that you have to retire, it just delays how old you will be when you receive full benefits. When social security was passed, people weren't living as long as they are now so the benefits paid out were not as high. Simple math people...if you have more to pay out, you need to make a change to sustain the program.

    February 16, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    @Four and the Door: Fix teh problem? Rep. Ryan wants to ditch the program. Thats fixing it, by killing it?

    February 16, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. JohnGalt

    It's unpleasant but he's right, the numbers don't support continuing payments at current levels. When SS originated in the 1930s there were at least four workers for every SS recipient. Now the boomers are retiring, average lifespan is about 15 years longer and people are having fewer children than people had the pre-war and baby boomer years. So, we will continue to have fewer workers supporting an increasing recipient populaton unless the SS age is raised.

    People are living longer and healthier lives. It's something to appreciate, not to resent.

    February 16, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. J-Ren

    I would not label myself "conservative" in any way, but I fail to see how this is simply "tough guy" rhetoric. Basic math says that we will not be able to do significant damage to our deficit if w hold 80% of the budget as "untouchable". Hopefully the "tough talk" will spur those in Congress into seeking some sort of long-term deficit solution.

    February 16, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Marcus

    OK – First, let's face it... All around the world the countries are dealing with the problem the very same way, even in France. The population, as a whole, is getting older and the life expentation is getting bigger in most of the countries and that is the excuse to raise the age for retirement. It makes sense, albeit it has a lot of unworkable problems attached to it.
    But... as usual...
    Four and The Door – '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.'
    Thanks for the daily dose of 'delusional perception of reality'-based laughs...
    Do you really believe in it?

    February 16, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. KatR

    Medicare is on its way to being solvent thanks to health care reform. It's not gonna happen soon enough to satisfy those Americans seeking instant gratification though.

    Up the retirement age for Social Security? How crazy is that when the private sector is reluctant to hire anyone over the age of 55? It will just increase the unemployment rate. Better solution is to remove the income limit. Prolly some old f**t way back then thought (like the wealthy today) that it was un-American to pay for a system they would never need.

    Bottom line....entitlement programs have grown because the wealthy of this country has thrown them under the bus. They are left with no alternative but SSI, SSD, welfare or drug trafficking to stay alive. The GOP/TP group is still operating under the dis-proven theory that capitalism=freedom.

    February 16, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Phil in KC

    First my former employer shafts me by going to a cash balance pension plan and cutting my retirement to 1/3. Now my government wants to shaft me and keep me working another 5 or 10 years. Great! I'll probaby die before I'm able to retire at this rate...

    February 16, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. matt spellman

    I cannot believe how many idiots on this blog deny the financial state of our states and country. We have gone along for too long giving the public sector workers anything and everything they have asked for, Annual pensions that represent 80 to 90% of their average salary over the last 3 years (Highest earning periods), retirement granted at age 55, 100% paid Health insurance upon retirement, etc.. This is unsustainable. Add in states financial responsibilities associated with Medicaid, Education, Transporation, and you quickly find out why and how we got in this mess. Denying that it exists is cowardly. A huge bubble is about to burst related to mostly Blue (Welfare) states running out of money. This will make the Wall Street Housing crisis look like a speed bump.

    February 16, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Obama's answer to Medicare is to cut half a trillion dollars from senior citizens mediicare?????? My mother is already suffering because of it."

    Funny, that's not what he proposed nor what's contained in the ACA. NOthing in it "cuts" Medicare...the $500B is coming from planned savings and efficiencies, not refusals to treat. If your mom is on medicare and is suffering for lack of care, you should probably take a peak at the GOP's refusal last year to pass the increase in reimbursement rates that is passed almost every year. It was a blatant attempt on their part to cause more people to be refused treatment or have a more difficult time accessing treatment due to doctors refusing Medicare patients...all so they could then claim it was the ACA, not their own petty nonsense, that caused the problem.

    "The simple fix for Social Security is to raise the cap from $106k to $250k. Problem solved."

    Indeed, but if you think that the House under GOP control is EVER going to allow an increase in ceiling for atxable income for SS and Medicare to be entertained in order to assure that SS remains solvent past 2037, then I would suggest you go back on your meds. No no no...if you remain on your Thorazine, you'll easily remember that it's the middle-class who has to actually suffer, not the rich who should have to contribute a small amount more that won't really in any way effect their ability to live a lavish lifestyle.

    February 16, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. len

    Tax the upper 2%.......why can't the GOP cut across the board and raise taxes on the rich and get big business to pay taxes on the jobs they send overseas.....and stop giving tax breaks to b ig oil.....why because they all line their pockets.........why did we votge them in...v oted against our own interest....we are not a very intelligient population.

    February 16, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. bob

    Why not raise the retirement age of government employees>? Better yet, have them contibute to their own 401K or ira for their own retirement and not get a "freebee" from the tax payers. This would also force them to contribute to the social secirity progams which they want to abolish.

    February 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Bill from GA

    Great idea for fat-cats that sit on their butts all day long, but working people don't generally live as long, and a larger portion of their income (usually all of it) is taxed for Social Security. Not that repugs really care about anybody but the wealthy, since most of their other supporters are totally ignorant.

    February 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Evelyn Mills

    You got to love these politicians that have never done a hour of actual hard labor that tell people thay have to wait forever to retire .
    The workers that build homes ,the commercial fisherman and such. Their bodies give out and they need to retire .Politicians forget there are people that work hard .

    February 16, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. TJ

    I have read projections that this approach will increase Social Security Disability claims as older workers, unable to work, but ineligible for Social Security, will be forced to opt for those benefits. What is being gained? Also the earlier comment that younger workers will have fewer jobs as the older workers stay on the job. Christie needs to research the number of college graduates working retail and other entry level jobs today because there are no jobs in their field. This will continue or become worse if this policy is adopted.

    February 16, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. NVa Native

    Ding ...ding....ding another angry arrogant white man running for President while trying to gain support from the freaks of the tea-baggin club. They love a wanna-bee bully don't they – no matter how destructive and screwed up his ideas are. It's really disgusting seeing a pompas ass shouting about why he is right – and he never bothers with facts or truth.
    GOPers are a sad bunch of mindless toadies who always follow the loudiest jerk they can find because it makes them feel like they have a strong daddy. Why else is there such things as Beck, Limpball, O'Really, and on and on ...............

    February 16, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Patrick from Minnesota

    Says Chris "I'm goin to Disney World" Christie!

    February 16, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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