GOFFSTOWN – Chris Christie kicked off a two day swing to New Hampshire with a sober prescription for tackling escalating entitlement spending.
The New Jersey governor and potential Republican presidential candidate proposed raising the retirement age for Social security to 69, means testing for Social Security, and gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare.
Christie outlined his proposals on entitlement reform at a speech Tuesday morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
“In the short term, it is growing the deficit and slowly but surely taking over all of government. In the long term, it will steal our children’s future and bankrupt our nation. Meanwhile, our leaders in Washington are not telling people the truth. Washington is still not dealing with the problem,” Christie said.
“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with the people of our country. I am not,” the governor added.
Christie said that Social Security should be retirement insurance, and he proposed what he described as “modest” means testing.
“Let’s ask ourselves an honest question: do we really believe that the wealthiest Americans need to take from younger, hardworking Americans to receive what, for most of them, is a modest monthly Social Security check? I propose a modest means test that only affects those with non-Social Security income of over $80,000 per year, and phases out Social Security payments entirely for those that have $200,000 a year of other income,” Christie said.
He added that his proposal would only affect 2 percent of all Social Security recipients.
When it comes to Medicare, Christie would increase the current sliding scare of means testing.
“We should expand the sliding scale under my proposal. Seniors with an $85,000 a year income will pay 40% of premium costs and increasing it to 90% above $196,000 a year in retirement income, Christie said.
Christie also proposed raising the retirement age for Social Security.
“I’m proposing we raise the age to 69, gradually implementing this change starting in 2022 and increasing the retirement age by two months each year until it reaches 69. I also believe we need to raise the early retirement age – people who take their retirement early -- at a similar pace, raising it by two months per year until it reaches 64 from the current level of 62,” Christie
And he also called for raising the eligibility age for Medicare at what he described as “a manageable pace of one month per year, so that by 2040, you’d be eligible for Medicare at 67 years old, and by 2064 would be 69 years old. Raising the eligibility age, slowly so that people can plan for it, has another advantage. It encourages seniors to remain in the workforce.”
Christie also trained some of his fire on President Barack Obama, saying the president “has left us a debtor nation. In his short time in office, he has almost doubled the national debt – increasing it by over $8 trillion.”
“It won’t be easy to turn around the fiscal mess that Barack Obama has left us either. He has avoided the tough decisions. Imagine that the straightforward discussion I’ve just had with you today, President Obama has been afraid to have with you for the last eight years -- from the day he declared for president in February of 2007 to this very day,” Christie added.
Christie ended his speech by touting that he’s not afraid to tackle the difficult issues, like entitlement reform.
“Here’s what you’ll learn about me. I have been talking about the growth of entitlements as a big problem, at both the state and federal levels, for a number of years. Not because it is politically popular, but because it is true. And because it will affect everything we can do as a country to make this century the second American century. I will not pander. I will not flip flop. I’m not afraid to tell you the truth as I see it, whether you like it or not,” Christie concluded.
Prior to his address, Christie met with students at Saint Anselm College. After a conference call with conservative reporters who were unable to watch the speech, Christie was headed to a retail stop at Caesario’s Pizza on Elm Street in Manchester.
Later in the day he was scheduled to hold a meet and greet at the Stone Church Tavern in Newmarket, followed by a closed door Seacoast Roundtable hosted by Renee Plummer, one of the most influential GOP activists along the coast.
Wednesday Christie meets and greets voters at Chez Vachon, a breakfast spot in Manchester, before holding a town hall in Londonderry. He returns to New Hampshire on Friday to speak at the NHGOP’s First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit. The two-day confab in Nashua’s attracting just about every declared candidate and probable Republican White House contender.