Why some in the GOP are floating about raising the retirement age for some Americans

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley attends a conversation with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) hosted by the Bastion Institute on March 10 in Clive, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans say changes to entitlement programs, such as raising the retirement age to extend the initiatives, should be “on the table.”

The big picture: Entitlement reform is a politically potent topic – and it’s one that could be an important part of the presidential candidates’ messages ahead of 2024.

  • Medicare is one of the largest line items in the U.S. budget, and as the population ages, it’s only expected to get more expensive, Axios’ Caitlin Owens reports.

Status: President Biden last week offered his proposal to extend Medicare’s solvency for another 25 years.

Americans can currently file for social benefits at age 62, but they will not receive full benefits at that age. The full retirement age varies from 66 to 67 depending on their date of birth.

  • In 2022, Social Security administrators estimated in a report that the fund would only pay full benefits to retirees until 2035. After that, the report said, benefits would be paid at 80% until 2096, when it is projected to reduce to 74%.
  • With the aging of the US population, fewer Americans are paying into Social Security, supporting an increasing number of beneficiaries who are also living longer.
  • The combination of longer life expectancies and fewer workers paying into the Social Security fund is exacerbating problems for a program that has long warned it could run out of money.

Worth nothing: The retirement age has been raised before. In 1983, Congress voted to phase in an increase in the full retirement age from 65 to 67, citing an increase in life expectancy and workers staying on the job for longer periods.

Driving the news: Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who is running for president in 2024, said she supports changing the retirement age for Americans in their 20s.

  • “It’s unrealistic to say you’re not going to touch rights,” Haley said on Fox News.
  • “The thing is, you don’t have to touch it for seniors and someone close to retirement. You’re talking about the new generation, like my kids are coming up,” she added.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (R) also said Sunday that lawmakers should discuss raising the retirement age for Americans in their 20s.

  • “For people who are in their 20s, their life expectancy will probably be 85 to 90,” Kennedy said on Fox News.
  • “Does it really make sense to let someone who is in their 20s today retire at 62?” he added.
  • “These are the kinds of things we should be talking about, there are changes in Medicare that we should be talking about,” he said.

Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) also said that raising the retirement age when it comes to receiving social benefits “must be on the table.”

  • Mace told CNN she supports a potential raising of the retirement age “as long as it’s not somebody who’s going to retire right now.”
  • “We don’t want to remove those who are retired or those who are coming into retirement, but if we’re talking about younger generations … that should be on the table.”

Between the lines: Former President Trump has warned Republicans to avoid making changes to Medicare or Social Security amid the ongoing battle over the debt ceiling.

Go deeper… Biden sets new trap with GOP budget mockery

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