Top Republican leaders in the House offered a fairly strong signal on Sunday that they would favor a down-the-road raising of the Social Security retirement age as part of an effort to revamp the entitlement program.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it was time "for the American people to have an adult conversation about the problems that we face" with respect to Social Security's solvency.
"We also know these programs are unsustainable in their current form," said the Ohio Republican. Asked specifically if he supports raising the retirement age to, say, 70, Boehner replied: "There are a lot of options on how you solve these, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse."
This wasn't the first time Boehner had broached the idea of raising Social Security's retirement age. The Minority Leader offered the same suggestion in an interview in late June. Back then, Democrats jumped on the remark, arguing that it was (one) not based in a realistic assessment of Social Security's solvency and (two) insensitive to those people who worked all their lives with an eye towards having a financially-stable retirement. It would be far from surprising if the same arguments are made in the days ahead.
Indeed, a platform of raising of the retirement age presents tricky politics for Republicans. Later during the "Meet the Press" program, Boehner's deputy, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind), was asked if he supported the idea. The Indiana Republican stammered around for a bit, echoing the same talking point concerning the need for "an adult conversation about domestic spending and entitlements."
Pinned down by host David Gregory, he ultimately replied: "I am for reforming our public entitlements for Americans who are far away from retirement. We need to keep promises to seniors that have been made, make sure that people who are counting on Medicare, Social Security have the benefits that they have. But for younger Americans, absolutely yes, we ought to bring real reform for the sake of future generations of Americans to get spending under control."