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. carrotroot

    What the GOP are proposing is downright evil. They want to go back to the old healthcare system where insurance companies can reject you for having a precondition. Then, they want to do away with Medicare and replace it with a voucher system that does not adjust to inflation, and that you will not get until you are age 70 and have medical bills that exceed $6400. This will basically force my generation to work till the day they die.

    April 13, 2011 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. Sgt Joe

    Social Security an "entitlement"? The GOP are truly the kings of spin, aren't they? All these 40+ years, I was under the impression I actually have been paying into Social Security with each and every pay check. Try again, GOP. How about the wealthy pay their share of taxes. That would cost us "jobs"? Do you mean here in America? Really? Please explain, since so many large companies get huge tax breaks already and are pocketing record profits and haven't been hiring even with the tax breaks. Please explain!

    April 13, 2011 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Can we also add a provision for financial proficiency for Congress to that bill? If they knew what they were doing, SS would have Trillions of dollars in surplus in it and not be struggling.
    Just becuase some folks are living longer, doesn't everyone is physically or mentally healthy enough to work the same rigorous jobs longer. But if they do move it back- move back the strating date on government pension benefits to the same date!!

    April 13, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. Republican Robber Baron

    Steal from the old, poor, and most vulnerable in our society...and give it away to wealthy powerful Corporations and the rich?
    Yes that's typical Republican greed-based selfish politics alright. The Republicans prefer waiting for the old to be almost to the point of death -then give them SS to live for only an average of 6 years. What's the point of retirement then, if you only will live for 6 years?

    April 13, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. hjl

    Cutting benefits on the wealthy is not necessarily the answer since they might not be earning six figures in retirement. While they are working, however, the amount of income subject to the payroll tax is capped at a little over $100,000, thus the %tax is less the higher your income. Medicaare removed the payroll cap over 10 years ago to remain solvent and everyone pays the same flat %. Why not treat Social Security the same? Oh, I'm sorry as that would raise taxes on the rich rather than lowering them and might cost someone their job.

    April 13, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  6. vet in texas

    It's very simple: lower the SSI tax from 6.2% to 4.2%, raise Medicare from 1.45% to 2.45% and do away with the FICA limit, Bill gates pays the same in SSI and FICA that someone who makes $106,800 does, everyone pays in (becasue if you don't make enough to pay taxes and still work, you still pay SSI and FICA regardless)! Problem solved, and republican leaders are exposed.

    April 13, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. Marjee123

    A good thing to do to add to the SS pot is to go back find out which representatives and Senators are still around and sue them for stealing the money out of social security in the bill they signed to let Reagan do it. He gave the rich a tax break, ( don't all republicans) and couldn't even come close to ponying up the money for special interests so he took the social security fund and mingled it with the general fund. And any body that says that wasn't the start of this fisaco is a liar. The republicans have crapped a brick trying to get ALL THE SOCIAL SECURITY FUNDS to give to wall street and the banks since FDR made it happen. Every time they get in office they start messing big time in they tighty whity shorts trying to get their hands on it for their buddies. NIT IT IN THE BUD.

    April 13, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Debbie

    Since the GOP must not remember or ever worked a labor intensive job they can't grasp that 70 years old is too old to retire! Maybe they are just trying to kill people off?

    April 13, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  9. Gabbo

    Add up all you've contributed to SS, adjust for inflation, and you'll see you've contributed NOWHERE near enough to pay your the retirement you think you've earned. Get smart – start an IRA.

    April 13, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. Elizabeth

    Baloney! How can a bricklayer, a roofer, a dairy farmer whose body wears out at 60 or 65 wait till 70 to retire? The white-collar bandits think nothing of those who do manual labor except to exploit them for more and more profit. Greed period. Shame and their un-Christian mindset. Shame, shame, shame.

    April 13, 2011 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. mike

    If the 250k plus people cannot receive it, then they should not have to pay into it. I do not make anywhere near that amount of money, but I still think it would be unfair to force people to pay into it if they cannot get back what they put into it.

    April 13, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Get ready people, the Republican party of Aparthied not only plan to raise the age of social security they are also battling to sell recipients to their big insurance companies as they have promised. Your parents, grandparents, etc. will have to live under your roof when they become of social security age because Republicans don't plan on social security, medicare or medicaid paying for their stay in an old age facility and pray that your child doesn't have a disability.

    April 13, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Social Security has always been self-funded through FICA taxes. The problem is, these funds are then invested in "secure" government bonds until the money is needed. Now some of that money is needed and the republicans don't want to pay the debt that congress owes the American worker. They intend to convince the public that the government can't pay their debt, while at the same time giving big oil, big business and the wealthiest 2% of Americans huge tax breaks. SS can be permanently fixed by one action of congress, remove the wage cap. The republicans won't discuss this reasonable remedy.

    April 13, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  14. once upon a horse

    problem is that a lot of people can not afford to retire anyway at of right now I know I can't. But the Republicans want the average Middle Class person to work until he drops, yet if he loses his job doesn't want him to collect unemployment which he paid into whie working anyway. And on top of that try going out getting a job when you're past 55 and see what you get unless you happen to be a professional in some field. Then if you can get a job it's more than likey minimum wage which a lot of Republicans want to see reduced anyways. I think more and more with the attack on unions in America and the dislike for doing what many Americans favor which is increasing taxes on the upper 2% and closing those tax loopholes for weathy corporations who the GOP is fighting for.

    April 13, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  15. Bill NY

    These Republican/Conservatives/Tea party politicians will do anything to cut taxes for thier very rich donors. They will throw us all under the bus for the likes of the Koch brothers

    April 13, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. LouAz

    God's green earth ? More religious ideaology from the Flat Earth Party ! Keep you god(s) out of US Government ! ! !

    April 13, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. gmccyclist

    As a blue dog democrat I can support the age modifications to qualify for full social security benefits that this group is proposing. As to the limiting the benefits for higher earners, that would be reasonable so long that it relates to the then current earnings of the recipients. Privatization of the system is too much gambling for a group that will largely be on a fixed income.

    April 13, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Joshua Ludd

    Well, as usual, Lindsay Graham is lying. We can take care of our budget without routing our social programs. We can start by getting rid of the "entitlement program" that allows GE and BofA to pay zero taxes on their billions in profit. We can stop the "entitelement program" that gives subsidies to the oil industry.. the most profitable industry in history. We can also stop the "entitlement program" that gives huge tax breaks to the wealthy. We can also cut back on the "entitlement program" for the military industry by reducing our black budgets.

    April 13, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. Madison

    I propose an alternative: raise the age to start social security only if the average annual wage is greater than the limit ($43000). Lower-wage workers (who are often working in more physically-demanding labor) would start social security at 65 as always.

    April 13, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  20. Albo58

    Eliminate the ability of non-Americans from getting a dime of our money and there will be a boon in funding!

    April 13, 2011 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  21. GOP = Greed Over People

    Over 8 trillion of the 14 trillion is money owed to the SS fund, because it was raided to "balance the budget" in past decades.

    If you had kept your Congressional paws off the people's peoples money, it would be there today, but no, it was raided to make up the difference for tax cuts we could not afford and wars fought "off the books" when the GOP said "deficits do not matter".

    And stop calling SS and Medicare "entitlements", all working folks have paid into these two funds their whole lives, granted we may get back more than we put in after about 7 years, but we did still pay for part of the expense, they are certainly not "free" which entitlements imply.

    Medicaid could be considered and "entitlement" but only the cold hearted and gold plated GOP would cut help to the poor, the elderly and the very young.

    April 13, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Russ

    What!!!! Lower SS benefits to upper income retirees. Isn't that like taxing the Rich. OMG say it isn't so! Plus, yeah, raise the retirement age. Most of these morons don't care because they'll still be in the senate or house when they're 70. Plus they are all rich enough they don't need SS. So why not. Agian looking out for themselves!!

    April 13, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. Gov't stinks

    The gov't could care less about tthe little guy..........period. As far as entitlement, As far as SS is concerned, now I will have to work and pay into the system for 56 years and don't even know if SS will be there. So I don't feel sorry for those who have to work a few years longer. Suck it up. People survived long before SS was ever even started. Sell one of your 3 cars, let family take care of each other and stop STEALING MY MONEY. You are entiltled to nothing.

    April 13, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. A Real American

    Four and The Door
    ".....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."

    Shoot, homes, that's what it's already like for most of us because of 30 years of trickle down nonsense and stagnant wages. Welcome to the Corporate States of America, Chief.

    April 13, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  25. Matthew Maurice

    Hey Senator Graham, maybe getting companies like GE to pay _some_ income tax on their BILLIONS of dollars of profits would help "save America from bankruptcy"? I'm just saying.

    April 13, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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