TwentySixteen

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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