Raising the Social Security Retirement Age
According to Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo, Republicans and — new development here — Democrats are getting behind the idea of slowly raising the retirement age. The change would go into effect only for workers who are middle-aged or younger now, all as part of a plan to reduce the national debt. Currently, workers can start receiving benefits as early as 62, with full benefits kicking in between 65 and 67, depending on the worker’s year of birth. The average lifespan is around 79 years.
Beutler reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not on board, but many other Democrats are coming around to it:
The strongest backer of this plan is House Minority Leader John Boehner, who recently told a Pennsylvania newspaper, “I think raising the retirement age going out 20 years so you’re not affecting anyone close to retirement, and eventually getting the retirement age to 70 is a step that needs to be taken.”
There’s no big surprise there. The Republican minority in the House doesn’t have a lot of power, but if Boehner had his druthers, he might well take things quite a bit further. He’s the one, after all, who won’t take Social Security privatization off the table if Republicans retake the House.
It’s the Democrats who have progressives feeling queasy. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer explicitly put the idea on the table as well in a speech last month. “We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan,” Hoyer said.
One way or another, this looks to be a massive issue in the next year, as Congress looks to the Obama administration’s deficit commission, the Bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, for debt and deficit solutions. Commissioners seem likely to recommend raising the retirement age, cutting benefits for wealthier Americans or expanding the Social Security tax — or some combination thereof. If 14 of 18 commissioners agree on the change, Congress has promised to vote on it. The AARP, MoveOn.org and the Campaign for America’s Future, among other organizations, have said they will oppose members of Congress who vote for certain changes to Social Security.