Chris Christie on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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