Chris Christie on Social Security



Do not prioritize pensions over other critical spending

The State Assembly has begun the pursuit of a constitutional amendment to guarantee pension payments over all other types of state spending. Because spending on education, health, crime, environment, welfare etc. is not guaranteed by the Constitution and is subject to elimination to pay for the pensions of 800,000 current and former public employees. The health, welfare, security and success of the other 8.1 million New Jerseyans become second-class concerns; pensions reign supreme.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to New Jersey legislature , Jan 12, 2016

Cut benefits for people earning over $80,000

Q: You said that we need to raise the retirement age for Social Security; you think that we need to cut benefits for people who make over $80,000; and eliminate them entirely for seniors who are making over $200,000. Gov. Huckabee said that your policies would rob seniors of the benefits that they've earned.

CHRISTIE: Let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you, and they have stolen from you. They told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that's in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs from money they spent on something else a long time ago. And they stole it from you because now they know they cannot pay these benefits, and Social Security is going to be insolvent in seven to eight years

HUCKABEE: Yes, we've stolen. Yes, we've lied to the American people. But you know what we're not telling them? It's their money. This is money that people have confiscated out of their paychecks.

Source: GOP `Your Money/Your Vote` 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Increase the retirement age because people living longer

What we know is we're living longer. That's a blessing. It's a blessing that we're living longer, so we have to increase the retirement age to reflect that blessing. We need to make sure that people understand, as Jeb said before, that if you've done extraordinarily well in this country, do you want them to take more out of your taxes now? Or would you rather take less later on?
Source: GOP "Your Money/Your Vote" 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Save Social Security for those who need it

Q [to Donald TRUMP]: Chris Christie says billionaires and people who earn far less should no longer get Social Security, or there should be limits based on income.

TRUMP: I'm OK with it. I would be willing to say I will not get Social Security. As a policy, I would leave it up to the people.

CHRISTIE: Social Security's going to go insolvent in seven to eight years. We need to save this program for people who have paid into the system and need it. If that means making sure that folks like Donald and many of us on the stage don't get it, that's the right thing to do. This government doesn't need more money to make Social Security solvent. We need to be not paying benefits to people who don't really need it. We need to protect the people who Social Security means the difference between picking between heat and rent and food.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Cut Social Security for wealthy, but don't increase taxes

Q: What should voters think of any of your rivals who say we can preserve Medicare and Social Security without cutting benefits?

CHRISTIE: They're not telling the truth. I guess the alternative could be, that they want a massive tax increase on the American people. If they want, that's fine. Here's my attitude about it, you have two choices--either get rid of some benefits for the very wealthiest in America who don't need a Social Security check, or you can give the government that's already lied to us and stolen from the trust fund more of your money. I don't want to give the government more of our money so they can lie more to us and steal more from us.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Aug 30, 2015

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

Close deficit in state retirement fund over next 7 years

SB 2 provides that beginning in 2011, the state is to make full annual employer's contribution to all state retirement systems. The state must make a payment of at least 1/7 of the full contribution, commencing July 2011, and makes a payment in each subsequent fiscal year by at least an additional 1/7, until payment of the full contribution is made.

Bloomberg News follow-up: Gov. Christie said the state may not be able to make a required pension payment. The state treasurer planned to make a $512 million contribution to the pension system in fiscal 2012, its first in four years. Christie said, "We'll make that contribution if the state is in a position to make that contribution." The governor skipped a $3 billion payment into the $67 billion fund in his first budget as he coped with a record $11 billion deficit. The fund had a deficit of $46 billion.

Legislative record:Bill Passed Assembly, 62-9-9; Passed Senate, 34-2-4, March 22, 2010. Sen. Lesniak voted YEA.

Source: NCSL Pension Report: 2010 New Jersey voting records for SB 2 , Jul 30, 2010

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016