TPM's Brian Beutler reads recent statements by both Republican and Democratic electeds, and finds common ground.
Several of the most powerful members of the House -- Republicans and Democrats -- have recently voiced real support for the idea of raising the retirement age for people middle-aged and younger as part of a larger plan to reduce long-term deficits, inching closer to what not too long ago was the third rail of American politics....
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.
He echoed House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who put it this way: "With minor changes to the program such as raising the salary cap and raising the retirement age by one month every year, the program could become solvent for the next 75 years." One month a year may not sound like much, but if you're 30 years away from retirement, that adds up to almost three years.
Nancy Pelosi tries to inject a bit of reality into the discussion.
When asked about it by TPMDC at her press conference last week, she criticized the plan, but mainly to say she disagrees with putting Social Security on the chopping block ahead of other measures. "Why they would start talking about a place that could be harmful to our seniors -- 70 is a relative age," Pelosi said. "Around here, there's not a lot of outdoor work or heavy lifting. But for some people it is, and 70 means something different to them. So in any event let's talk about growth, lets talk about how we can reduce spending, lets put everything, those initiatives: promoting growth, tightening the belt, looking at entitlements. But let's not start on the backs of our seniors."
The Congress, with it's relative geezerdom, isn't a particularly fair reflection of life in the real world, where few 70 year-olds have multiple staff people to get them through their days. That's true now, and it will be true for the now middle-aged people who will be facing a longer working life if these guys get their way.
Here's something our Members of Congress should be occupying their noggins with: the middle-aged and older are the largest group of the long-term unemployed. A little job creation could potentially go a long way here. Maybe if they actually were working, and contributing into the system by paying both income and Social Security taxes, our economic picture would be a little less bleak. Telling these people now--who want to be working--that they'll have an extra 15 years to be stigmatized by being unemployed is just cruel.