Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chris Christie And Hillary Clinton Take Opposite Positions On Social Security


Jeb Bush and the second-tier contenders

Rutgers released a new poll this week showing that 69% of New Jersey voters agree that their governor, Chris Christie, would make a lousy president. He's in New Hampshire, where voters are less aware of what a mess he's made out of New Jersey's economy. He's there campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination... but trying to panic Republicans into backing his plan to tear down Social Security. Christie is telling GOP voters he wants to raise the retirement age to 69 and advocating the old GOP canard that would crack Social Security's universal appeal by cutting back on benefits to middle class seniors.
Christie’s decision to take on Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and disability insurance stands as perhaps the most significant policy proposal to date in the 2016 race, and one that will likely result in attacks from Democrats and his potential Republican competitors.

While national Republicans have often highlighted the need to scale back on health care entitlements, Social Security has presented more of a political third rail... Christie’s proposal would reshape Social Security from its New Deal origins as retirement vehicle for most working Americans into a program that taxes workers at all income levels but pays benefits only to those without other major sources of retirement income.

...Christie’s proposal in many ways would go beyond the most detailed overhaul that Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) proposed, in 2010. He advocated allowing workers 54 years old and younger to shift a portion of Social Security payroll tax payments into private retirement-savings accounts. The proposal would also have very gradually increased the retirement age, which is already on pace to reach 67 years in 2026, to 70.

House Republicans’ subsequent budgets didn’t include the detailed overhaul proposal and instead carved out a more passive role for Congress. They would create a process by which the Social Security Board of Trustees and the president would submit to Congress a plan for restoring solvency to the entitlement program.

Republicans have also called for using a different calculation of Social Security cost-of-living increases that would slow the growth of benefit payments. Mr. Obama included the chained consumer-price index proposal in his 2013 budget but hasn’t since then.
Christie is doing town halls in New Hampshire, advocating cuts to Social Security and Medicare at a time when Americans would like to see Social Security expanded, not cut. Bernie Sanders, Ranking Member on the Senate Budget Committee, was incredulous. "You take a deep breath," he told reporters, "and try to wonder what world these people live in... What Governor Christie is saying is just the continuation of the war being waged by the Republican Party against the elderly, against the children, against the sick and against the poor, in order to benefit millionaires and billionaires. It is an outrage."

Alex Law is the Blue America-endorsed candidate for Congress in South Jersey. He has made it clear that there is no room for betraying seniors with schemes to cut back Social Security benefits. He may have been disappointed, but he wasn't surprised that Christie grabbed the third rail yesterday. "As someone born and bred in New Jersey," he told us, "it is a tremendous disappointment when my governor travels the country promoting policy that couldn't be more wrong for middle class Americans. Governor Christie's recent remarks about Social Security are just another example of his unwillingness to stand up for seniors and everyday Americans, just like when he turned his back on teachers and made bad deals with Big Oil. On Social Security, we need to raise the amount of money that is eligible to be taxed, not lower it. We must speak up against his policy and expose his misrepresentation of his record in New Jersey. As a candidate for U.S. Congress, my Blue Dog opponent is an ally of the conservative Republican governor, and I am doing everything I can to stand against them here in New Jersey."

Hillary Clinton was taking a very different approach to voters yesterday. While Christie promised to beggar seniors, she talked to small groups in Iowa about championing the causes of the needy.

I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans in four big areas. We need to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday. We need to strengthen families and communities because that's where it all starts. And we need to fix the dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment. And we need to protect our country from threats that we see and the ones that are on the horizon. So I'm here in Iowa to begin a conversation about how we do that... There's something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker. There's something wrong when American workers keep getting more productive, as they have, and as I just saw a few minutes ago is very possible because of education and skills training, but that productivity is not matched in their paychecks.

And there's something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days.

And there's something wrong when students and their families have to go deeply into debt to be able to get the education and skills they need in order to make best of own lives.

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