Almost all the Republican candidates—including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul, but not Mike Huckabee or Donald Trump—want an increase in the age for receiving full Social Security benefits. This is a bad idea.
They are using Social Security as a wedge issue to divide the old from the young. But in fact, the longer us old-timers are forced to work, the fewer jobs there are for young workers and the less opportunity for young workers to rise.
As Bernie Sanders has pointed out, the Social Security trust fund, which is invested in interest-bearing Treasury bonds, is sufficient to ensure that full benefits will be paid for many years to come, and full benefits can be continued indefinitely by raising the income ceiling on Social Security taxes.
Until recently, there was a bipartisan consensus on reducing Social Security benefits. Benefits are already being cut by means of a law now in effect that gradually raises the age for full benefits from 65 to 67 (it’s now 66).
President Obama’s budgets called for calculating Social Security cost-of-living increases by means of something called the Chained CPI, which discounts actual price increases when meaning inflation.
He dropped the idea when he proposed the current 2015 budget after opposition from liberal Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren.
Hillary Clinton said she is opposed to plans to privatize or “undermine” Social Security. So far as I know, she hasn’t said anything more specific. Two other Democratic candidates—Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley—think Social Security benefits should be increased. I agree with Sanders and O’Malley.
I say—hooray for partisanship. It is better than bipartisan agreement on bad ideas.
Here is my thought about the Social Security eligibility age.
Make the full benefits age for Social Security equal to 70 years minus the preceding year’s unemployment rate. That is, if, at the start of any year, the unemployment rate for the previous known 12 months was 5 percent, then the age to receive full Social Security benefits would be 65. If it was 8 percent, the full benefits age would be 62.
The higher the unemployment rate, the more likely it would that people in their 60s would be unemployed or working at low-paid jobs. Allowing them to retire would free up jobs for younger people. Giving them an income would stimulate economic demand and help economic recovery.
The quiet Social Security revolution: How Democrats learned to stop loving benefits cuts by Heather Digby Parton for Salon.
GOPers talk Medicare, Social Security reform by Eric Bradner for CNN.
Tags: Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie, Democrats vs. Republicans, Donald Trump, Election 2016, HIllary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Martin O'Malley, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Republicans vs. Democrats, Scott Walker, Social Security, Social Security cuts