Chris Christie on Social Security


Raise retirement age 2 years, phased in over 25 years

Q: You say that to save the system that you have to raise the retirement age, and to cut benefits for Social Security.

CHRISTIE: Yes, we'd raise the retirement age two years, and phase it in over 25 years, that means we'd raise it one month a year for 25 years when we're all living longer, and living better lives. Secondly, we would needs-test Social Security for those who are making over $200,000 dollars a year in retirement income, and have $4 to $5 million dollars in liquid assets saved. They don't need that Social Security check. Social Security is meant to be--to make sure that no one who's worked hard, and played by the rules, and paid into the system grows old in poverty in America. If we don't deal with this problem, it will bankrupt our country, or lead to massive tax increases, neither one that we want in this country.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

The Trust Fund is filled with IOUs: we've been lied to

Gov. Mike HUCKABEE: Whose fault is it that the system is screwed up? Is it the recipients, or is it the government? I just think it's fundamentally lying to people and stealing from them, and we shouldn't be doing it. If Congress wants to mess with the retirement program, why don't we let them start by changing their retirement program, and not have one?

CHRISTIE: He's complaining about the lying and stealing. The lying and stealing has already occurred. The trust fund is filled with IOU's. We can't fix the problem just by ending Congress' retirement, that's worth about, "this" much [gesturing a small amount]. I don't disagree with ending Congress' retirement program, [but] we need to go at the fundamental problem, and the fundamental problem is that this system is broken. It has been stolen from. We have been lied to, and we need a strong leader to tell the truth and fix it.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

National entitlements reform package including means-testing

Christie has proposed a national entitlements reform package. His plan would include means testing for wealthy seniors so that Americans making more than $80,000 a year would get lower Social Security benefits & would pay more for Medicare health plans. Starting in 2022, the governor would gradually raise the full retirement age for Social Security to 69, from the current age of 67 for people born after 1960. He would raise Medicare eligibility more slowly, setting it at 69 years old by the year 2064.
Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Jun 30, 2015

State pensions cut by $120B; but $90B still to go

We defied the conventional wisdom and reduced the cost [of state pensions] to taxpayers by over $120 billion over the next three decades. Today, the health of the pension system is stronger than it was 5 years ago. In fact, gains have totaled over $35 billion--which is way above projections--thanks to our sound management and smart investment strategy.

But the pension fund's problem is a long-term one. Right now the $90 billion unfunded liability for pensions and health benefits is three times the size of the annual state budget. Think of this way--in order to close the current shortfall in just the pension system alone every family in New Jersey would have to write a check for $12,000.

That is the nature of long-term entitlements which grow faster than the economy, and in that regard our problem here in New Jersey is not that different from Washington's entitlement problem. Last summer I appointed a pension and health benefits task force--to think outside the box, and they are hard at work.

Source: State of the State address to 2015 New Jersey Legislature , Jan 13, 2015

Pension reform: raise retirement age, suspend COLAs

Our pension system, which was on a path to insolvency, is now on much more sound footing. We tackled the problem head on--modestly raising the retirement age, reducing incentives for early retirement, suspending COLAs until the plan is 80% funded, and yes, asking for something slightly closer to market in terms of employee contributions.

In total, the pension and health benefits reform package that you passed will save taxpayers over $120 billion over the next 30 years. Just as importantly, it will help make sure the pension is actually there when our public employees and school teachers retire. Other states have noticed: this reform is becoming a model for America.

When we combine this needed discipline on spending and taxes, with responsibility in addressing our long-term liabilities, with pro-growth actions on the regulatory side, we have made New Jersey a better place to do business.

Source: N.J. 2013 State of the State Address , Jan 8, 2013

We're in trouble due to overspending on entitlement programs

Q: Why do you think America got itself into such a terrible mess economically? What do you think was the problem?

A: Greed. And because no one wanted to tell anybody the truth. The truth was you can't continue to spend the kind of money our spending on all these entitlement programs. I think we need more people in public life who are willing to say no, we can't afford certain things, no we can't do certain things, we've got to wind up being honest with people. I think we got ourselves in this mess because some people in the financial industry became incredibly short-sighted and greedy and we had government officials who refused to say no.

Source: Interview on CNN "Piers Morgan Tonight" , Jun 15, 2011

Raise the retirement age, and limit COLA, for state workers

We must modestly raise the retirement age in an era of longer life expectancy. We must curb the effect of COLAs in a time of low or no inflation. And we must ensure a modest but acceptable contribution from employees toward their own retirement system. Without reform, the problem we face is simple: Benefits are too rich, and contributions are too small, and the system is on a path to bankruptcy.
Source: 2011 N.J. State of the State Address , Jan 11, 2011

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Page last updated: Aug 16, 2015