Gov. Chris Christie called for reduced Social Security benefits for seniors earning over $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67. In a speech here Tuesday morning, the potential Republican candidate spoke about the need to overhaul Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and disability insurance -- perhaps the most significant policy proposal to date in the 2016 race.
The call for higher benefits is a marked difference from recent years in which the White House and Republicans were negotiating deficit-cutting deals, leaving liberals to argue merely for staving off benefit cutbacks. Separately, many experts in both parties have long argued that extending the solvency of the program would require a combination of benefit cuts and tax increases. The liberals' argument is that Social Security benefits are meager and that people in retirement need more, not less, money. Some also contend that concerns about the program's solvency are exaggerated. And inside the Democratic Party, that argument is gaining traction. Legislation increasing benefits, and boosting payroll taxes to cover the cost, now has 58 co-sponsors in the House.