Republicans insist they won’t touch Social Security, but keep talking about changing Social Security

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Under his condition of the union this year, President Joe Biden created what appeared to be a moment of unity. Republicans and Democrats alike cheered when he said, “So people we seem to agree, Social Security and Medicare are off the books now, right?” But now, weeks after that moment, two prominent Republicans support raising the retirement age.

During appearances on Sunday newscasts, GOP Sen. John Kennedy proposed raising the retirement age, and Rep. Nancy Mace said raising the retirement age “has to be on the table” along with Medicare and Medicaid reform.

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“For people who are in their 20s, their life expectancy is likely to be 85 to 90. Does it really make sense to let someone who is in their 20s today retire at 62?” Kennedy said on Fox News. Kennedy added that the current life expectancy is 77 and argued that it will continue to rise, but life expectancy in the United States has fallen since it peaked at 78.9 years in 2014. In the last year alone, it fell average life expectancy from 77 to 76.1 according to data from the CDC. The life expectancy of black Americans is also significantly lower than that of white Americans. Black men, for example, have a life expectancy of 68 years. Currently, 62-year-olds are eligible for partial retirement benefits, but the full retirement age moves to 67 due to legislation passed in 1983.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Rep. Nancy Mace said raising the retirement age is “something that needs to be on the table, we need to look at it.” Mace then speculated that she “won’t have retirement funds” because she “assumes Social Security will be insolvent.” The Social Security Trust Fund is expected to be solvent until 2035, and even after that it will still be able to pay about 77 percent of benefits.

“We’ve got to look at Social Security. We’ve got to look at spending in this country — mandatory and discretionary — if we’re going to take it upon ourselves to fix Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, you name it,” Mace said. “We have to take it seriously.”

Mace went on to say that she does not support raising the retirement age for current retirees or those close to retirement, but rather for younger generations. Republicans love to act as if raising the retirement age or reducing benefits is the only solution for Social Security, but the fact is that Congress could change the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security tax — currently $160,200 — to increase its funding.

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