Republican 2016 presidential hopeful Chris Christie has a bright, new idea on how to reduce the deficit — and, yes it does involve beating up on the elderly. In a speech in New Hampshire Tuesday, Christie proposed pushing back the age at which one becomes eligible for social security and Medicare for future retirees from 67 to 69.
Early retirement age would be increased from 62 to 64, and alterations would be made to the way cost-of-living increases are calculated — of course, providing our nation’s seniors with smaller increases in the future. Under Christie’s proposal, the Medicare eligibility age would be raised to 67.
According to the New Jersey governor, this approach would cut the deficit by $1 trillion over ten years and confront the nation’s “biggest challenges in an honest way.” In addition, Christie wants to reduce Social Security benefits for future retirees earning more than $80,000 a year and completely eliminating them for those whose annual incomes exceed $200,000.
Under Christie’s plan, seniors working after age 62 would be exempt from the payroll tax.
“Through its unwillingness to address our biggest challenges in an honest way, the Obama administration has put us on a perilous course for both our short-term and our long-term futures,” Christie said. “See, I think it’s time to tell the truth about what we need to do in order to solve our problems and put our country back on the path to greater prosperity.”
A report by the Associated Press notes that:
While he put the savings of his proposals at $1 trillion over a decade, neither he nor aides outlined numbers to back up the estimate. The most significant impact from raising the age of eligibility for Medicare and Social Security would come farther into the future, when workers currently at mid-career begin to reach retirement age.
Last year, Christie took $2.4 billion from the state’s pension fund to balance the budget, calling his decision “not only the best but the only decision we’re left with” to solve the state’s $2.7 billion, two-year deficit.
Think Progress point out that the budget woes were created largely by Christie’s favors for the wealthy:
But the circumstances that left Christie in that hole didn’t arise on their own. He created them by spending $2.1 billion on business tax subsidies over the first three years of his tenure and by overseeing “alternative investments” of pension money with hedge funds and other high-fee money managers who pocketed a combined $1.2 billion in fees that would otherwise have gone into the state’s pension funds over the past year alone.[…]
The $2.1 billion in business tax subsidies was supposed to spark economic growth. Such schemes are common across the country, but Christie has leaned on them especially hard. After spending a total of $1.25 on tax subsidies in the decade before he took office, the state dumped $2.11 billion into the giveaways from 2010 to 2013, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective.
The escalation of tax breaks hasn’t brought prosperity to the state. New Jersey ranks48th in private sector job growth since 2010, according to the Star-Ledger, tied with Mississippi. It has recovered a little under 40 percent of the total jobs it lost to the Great Recession, while neighboring New York (122 percent) and Pennsylvania (81 percent) have performed far better, according to the paper.
That experience is all too typical. State tax rate cuts do not create jobs, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has shown. Neither do specific tax incentive programs: “there is no conclusive evidence from research studies conducted since the mid-1950s to show that business tax incentives create net economic gains…[or] have an impact on business location and expansion decisions,” experts Marilyn Rubin and Donald Boyd wrote in a report for New York state legislators. Most states fail to adequately calculate the actual impact of their tax incentive programs on business decisions and net economic growth, according to a Pew Center on the States report, but one report last spring found that manufacturing tax credits in 20 different states had approximately zero effect on growth in the targeted industries.
Christie has shown in the past that he will balance the budget — not at the expense of those who can afford it, but to the detriment of the elderly. It is laughable that he feels taking his failed policies to a national level will get him elected.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.