In the Republican debate, Americans got a glimpse at what their economic future might hold if one of the Republican candidates becomes president -- and the picture wasn't pretty. Social Security is essential for workers and their families who want to retire with dignity and independence and want to be protected in the event of death or a disabling illness or accident. Given the Social Security views of those who took the debate stage Thursday night, Americans should be very worried.
Governor CHRIS CHRISTIE doubled down on his destructive proposal to turn Social Security into a means-tested welfare program. On top of that, he proposed raising Social Security's full retirement age to 69, a thirteen percent, across-the-board benefit cut. Like President George W. Bush before him, Governor Christie will, if elected president, seek to destroy Social Security, while claiming to be just "saving" it.
Christie's views on Social Security are extreme, fringe and totally out of touch with the American people. Polling released last week by Social Security Works shows that Americans across the board-- including majorities of Republicans and Independents-- oppose cuts to Social Security and say they are less likely to vote for candidates who support cuts to the program.
To his credit, MIKE HUCKABEE stands firmly against benefit cuts, and with the American people. He wrongly seems to believe that Social Security contributions have been stolen, not merely lent and so must be paid back. But he is light years ahead of all the other Republican candidates on this issue, with the exception of DONALD TRUMP, who in April remarked, "Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut." He made clear, "I'm not gonna do that!"
Since the others did not offer their views last night, here they are (with the exceptions of Ben Carson and Jim Gilmore who haven't made their views known.)
ADULT TABLE DEBATE
SCOTT WALKER: Raise the Retirement Age
KIDDIE TABLE DEBATE
RICK PERRY: Social Security is a "Ponzi Scheme," "Monstrous Lie"
BOBBY JINDAL: Privatize Social Security
CARLY FIORINA: May Raise Retirement Age
With a looming retirement income crisis and growing wealth and income inequality, expanding Social Security, not cutting it, is the right policy. It is also what the overwhelming majority of Americans want. It sounds like everyone but Huckabee and Trump are taking their Social Security advice from their billionaire donors.
Last election, voters didn't realize that they had a choice, since President Obama, inexplicably and inaccurately, asserted in a presidential debate against Mitt Romney, "I suspect that, on Social Security, we've got a somewhat similar position," This time around, with Democratic Presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both advocating expansion, voters are likely to have a clear choice. For the sake of their families' economic security, they should exercise it wisely.