During a Friday campaign stop in New Hampshire, former Florida Governor and potential 2016 Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, rolled out a plan for keeping the financially troubled Social Security system afloat by gradually raising the eligibility age over time. While Bush’s plan would not change the program for current beneficiaries, people who are in their earning years now and have not yet entered the system would be expected to wait to enroll in the program until they have reached the age of 68 or 70.
“I think we need to raise the retirement age, not for the people that are already nearing receiving Social Security or are already on it, but raise it gradually over a long period of time for people that are just entering the system,” he said. “And I think we need to do that in relatively short order.”
“And Social Security can be sustained, just as it was in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan, Tip O’Neill, Dan Rostenkowski I guess was in it, Bob Packwood, this group of, you know, very conservative, very liberal and in between forged consensus on how to sustain Social Security over the long haul,” he said.
Bush doubled down on his stand on Sunday morning when he appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.
In championing changes to the program, Bush joins presidential contenders, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio who both advocate Social Security reforms that better reflect the demographic facts of the 21st Century. People are living longer and are able to remain in the earning pool for more years, thus sweetening the entitlement pot
Restructuring the program seems to be essential in the near future as the Social Security trust fund will be forced pay mushrooming benefits as the Baby Boomers continue to retire in waves. By extending the retirement age, the system will be able to sock away extra cash to bolster the system’s shaky future. According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group, Social Security will run $7.7 trillion in the red during the next 75 years.
Democrat Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has not yet offered solution to the financial woes of the entitlement program, saying instead that Republicans who aim to “fix” Social Security are “Just wrong,” suggesting that Republicans are resorting to scare tactics.
Because nearly two-thirds of American retirees depend upon the government checks for at least half their income, Democrats deem the program to be something of a sacred cow. Republicans, on the other hand, see the move to raise the retirement as one workable step in a more comprehensive reform plan aimed at pulling the beleaguered Social Security system out of the red.
A 2012 Pew poll demonstrated that most Americans, 56 percent, opposed a gradual increase in retirement age as a means of reducing Federal spending, while only 42 percent approved. Instead, respondents to the poll found means testing applicants to be a more palatable approach.
Reducing payments to upper income earners, according to Bush, “Ought to be considered,” as well within new program reforms.