New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) proposed broad changes to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare in a speech in New Hampshire.
Christie is proposing cutting Social Security benefits to seniors who make more than $80,000 a year and also eliminate benefits for those making $200,000 or more. The Wall Street Journal reported excerpts of Christie’s proposal ahead of the speech.
Christie called on raising the national retirement age from 67 to 69.
Christie’s proposed cuts to Social Security are even more far-reaching than the entitlement changes in the plan offered by Republicans in the past few years, including changes proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with the people of our country,” Christie argues according the remarks reported on by the Journal. “I am not.”
The New Jersey governor also called gradually increasing the qualifying age for Medicare from its current 65 to 67 by 2040. He will propose moving Medicaid management to states. Christie also called on increasing the early retirement age to 64, from 62.
“Governor Christie is also proposing to raise the Early Retirement Age at a similar pace — raising it by 2 months per year until it reaches 64 from the current level of 62,” an outline of Christie’s proposal sent out by his Leadership Matters for American Political Action Committee said.
Christie gave something of a nod to House Republicans who in January passed a rule that change that blocks routine transfers between the Social Security disability fund and the Social Security retirement fund. House Republicans signaled that that was a move to try and leverage changes to the program. Christie, in his speech, suggested support for that.
“The Social Security Disability Trust Fund, without action by Congress, is scheduled to run out of money in 2016. Not some far off time that you don’t think is ever going to come. 2016,” Christie said. “The way President Obama proposes to fix this is to reallocate hundreds of billions of dollars from Social Security to the Disability Trust Fund with no strings attached, further depleting the Social Security fund. We shouldn’t do this. I believe we should use this moment to reform the system and to incentivize people who have been disabled to get back to work if they can.”
In an interview with Yahoo News, Christie offered a preemptive defense of his proposed changes.
“It’s not a tough sell to current seniors or people about to enter the system because this won’t affect them,” Christie said in that interview “We’re going to phase this in over a good period of time. But I also don’t believe that the grandmothers and grandfathers of this country want to see these programs destroyed for their grandchildren. I think they care about the future of this country and the future of their grandchildren.”
Christie, in that interview, said these entitlement programs were on the way to “ruin” if something wasn’t done to change that.
This post has been updated.