GOP senators propose raising age for Social Security benefits
April 13th, 2011
04:19 PM ET
11 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. Tulsa

    Hey you dumb Republicans.... Social Security is not an intitlement..... I have paid into SS since I was old enough to work. Just like a greedy Republican to move the goalposts AGAIN.
    Stop raiding SS for pet projects, adopt the affordable health care plan and raise taxes on the top 2%.
    Stay the hell away from the retirement I've have been paying into for 45 years.

    April 13, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Tony in Maine

    I wonder what would have been the Republican reaction had Obama come out in favor f eliminating Medicare and Social Security and giving the money thus removed from the budget to Goldman to distribute to the sovereign wealth funds? I'm betting their heads would have exploded trying to figure out how to say 'No" to that.

    I'm also wondering when the Democrats will begin to use the word "obligations" in place of "entitlements?"

    April 13, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Trusslady

    You work, you pay. That will fix SSI. No more stopping payments because your salary has reached some artificially decided limit, which is just another tax break for the wealthy.

    April 13, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Let's bring back that 30 year old republican agenda that attacks those who pay into a program for over 40 years.

    April 13, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. bcrunner

    A few more details please... How can you expect a person working in construction and lots of othe manual jobs to work till they are 70? Easy to do when you are a congressman or work in an office like I do.. Gee, we can work till we're 90... But there are a host of jobs that people cannot do at that age...

    April 13, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Charlie in Maine

    Hey aren't you the same idiots who passed the Bush Error Tax Cuts?

    And now your telling me that I ghave to retire a few years later so Donald Trump can pay less in taxes. Well you've got nerve I'll say that.

    As far as I'm concerned, one of the only mistakes Obama has made so far was letting the tax breaks for the rich continiue. I would have galdly given up my hundreds of dollars in tax cuts if it would have meant that the rich SOB's who have mortgaged our future had to pay more as well.

    April 13, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Jim W

    Great concept. Now how about having jobs out there for people over 50, sorry too young for a Wal-Mart greeter. At 59 with a Masters in Finance it is rare to get past the built in age screening on the on-line app. Why do they need the date of your college graduation at this stage? Give me an equal opportunity for the job and I plan on working until as Thomas Edison put it, "I will retire the day before my funeral". But do give me that opportunity.

    April 13, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. bearced

    "lowering monthly payments to upper-income retirees." " People who earned $43,000 " $43,000 is considered upper income? Now I understand why my tax rates are higher than the majority of the top 400 earners in the country.

    April 13, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. kyle

    Eliminate tax cuts for the rich, that's something these guys will never touch, and they don't care how bad the defecit is.

    April 13, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. A Real American

    Funny how people making $43k per year are "upper income" when it's time to cut social security but those making $250k are barely scraping by when it's time to raise taxes. Typical conservative bull.

    April 13, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Mark

    70? Idiots! Most people will be DEAD! I have to say it again, the GOP are NOT looking out for the people's best interest. Raising the retirement age is just plain wrong. I'm getting really sick of this country and I see no relief, no matter who wins elections,.

    April 13, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Rob R

    Once again this proves how Republicans are against the middle and working class. People are having a hard time finding work as it is, and now they expect people to stay in jobs until they are 70? Are you f'ing kidding me? I work in IT, and I can't imagine that at 70 years old I will be as attractive to employers as a 20 or 30 something.

    These senators are all millionaires who can retire any time they wish and live a nice life. They have no concept of what real working people go through on a day to day basis.

    Come on people wake up and realize that the GOP is trying to bamboozle you.

    April 13, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Name Creole

    Go to Hell!!!! Republican party of NO!!! And you and your family will be taken care of by us. The Tax payers.....Go TO HELL

    April 13, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. john

    I cant work until I am 70!

    April 13, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. TP

    That will spell "Trouble" in the United States. You think Europe was pissed-off? This will cause unrest in this country,instantly. Your party "War Mongers" will turn this country into No Mans Land. How do you Sleep at Night,Linsey Graham? Your the worst,and the teaparty is like the Tailaban males. Strip women of their rights,and enslave our working people until they drop dead on the job? Ya,LL Sick PUPS.

    April 13, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. The Dude

    "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."

    That is perhaps the most idiotic rationalization for slashing SS benefits that I have ever heard. Oh, wait, it's from the Republicans, that explains why it's so stupid

    April 13, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. FactCheck

    You tea baggers in the $250,000+ tax bracket should love the GOP plan. As for the rest of you, well you're gonna get exactly what you deserve. Enjoy coming out of retirement and applying for employment as Wal-Mart greeters.

    April 13, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. BeverlyNC

    I propose raising the IQ level required for a Republican to be allowed to be a member of Congress. I have never seen such stupidity, such ignorance on basic economics, basic leadership, basic manners in the respect for the President of the United States, basic patriotism in caring and serving the PEOPLE who elected you and basic understanding of our Constitution and federal laws. Republicans also need to be able to prove they have basic character, integrity, and the ability to speak without lying on a daily basis. They are an embarrassment and don't deserve to represent this nation. No more Republicans come 2012. They are not qualified to govern anything.

    April 13, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. ted

    Anyone who made more than $250K a year should not be eligible for social security. It shoudl be for us working stiffs that don't make that money. The politicians shouldn't get SSI either.

    April 13, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Brandon

    So really we shouldn't count Social Security as part of the budget, according to Scary Harry?

    How does that affect the actual deficit then? How underwater are we?

    April 13, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. John

    When FDR designed Social Security, he didn't put in a means test for receiving it, because he was sure that it would enable the Republicans to stigmatize it as a kind of welfare. The Republican plan here gives me further reason to respect FDR's wisdom.

    April 13, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. sandiegobikeguy

    why is it rich re-pubs who don't need social security or medicare think it's a good idea to take them away from the middle class and the poor? Maybe there is something to the New World Order stuff about the elite contriving to make us all poor debt slaves to their banks.

    April 13, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Mary

    DAH!!!! If you cut revenue and give away billions of dollars to non paying tax companies you can't sustain the budget. We don't have a deficit problem we have a revenue problem. As long as Graham and fellow Republicans continue to lie to the American public we are going to continue this waste of time listening to these clowns.

    April 13, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Linton

    "There is no way in God's green Earth to save America from bankruptcy until you deal with entitlements," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina."

    LOL! Like any thinking human being is going to buy that line!

    Hey Lindsay – how about we start with cutting ALL farming subsidies? How about we look at the states that are taking the most oout of the treasury through subsidies? Ahem – your state would be at the top – you hypocrite!

    Most all of the red states are at the top of the goverment handout train.

    Do these Republicans and Tea Gaggers want the goverment to do EVERYTHING for them? Yes, they do!

    April 13, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. OneMoreTime

    So, the tea/pubs blinked.

    April 13, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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