Jeb Bush Backs Hike in Social Security Retirement Age

The Republican charges into one of the more controversial issues in American politics.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks at the Detroit Economic Club February 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.
National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
April 17, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

MANCHESTER, NH—Jeb Bush grabbed one of the third rails of Amer­ic­an polit­ics on Fri­day, de­clar­ing that the re­tire­ment age for So­cial Se­cur­ity should be raised and “in re­l­at­ively short or­der.”

“I think we need to raise the re­tire­ment age, not for people that are already near­ing, re­ceiv­ing So­cial Se­cur­ity, or already on it, but raise it gradu­ally, over a long peri­od of time for people that are just en­ter­ing the sys­tem,” Bush said. “And I think we need to do that in re­l­at­ively short or­der.”

Bush made the com­ments at the New Hamp­shire In­sti­tute of Polit­ics at Saint An­selm Col­lege in Manchester—the same ven­ue that po­ten­tial pres­id­en­tial rival, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, out­lined an en­ti­tle­ment-re­form pack­age of his own earli­er this week that also in­cluded rais­ing the So­cial Se­cur­ity re­tire­ment age.

(RE­LATED: Will Hil­lary Clin­ton Em­brace So­cial Se­cur­ity Ex­pan­sion?)

Christie called for even­tu­ally bring­ing the re­tire­ment age to 69. Bush offered no such spe­cif­ics dur­ing his ap­pear­ance at the in­sti­tute. Asked by Na­tion­al Journ­al af­ter­ward if he had a spe­cif­ic age in mind, Bush said, “No—not yet.”

At his ap­pear­ance, Bush said Amer­ica’s demo­graph­ic real­it­ies would force changes both to So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care, which he called an even “big­ger chal­lenge.”

“We have to be cog­niz­ant of that and re­cog­nize that someone in their 30s is not go­ing to get the be­ne­fits un­der their cur­rent situ­ation,” he said of So­cial Se­cur­ity.

He cited the deal struck by Demo­crat­ic Speak­er Tip O’Neill and Re­pub­lic­an Pres­id­ent Ron­ald Re­agan as a mod­el.

“So­cial Se­cur­ity can be sus­tained just as it was in the 1980s,” Bush said.

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