This is pretty stupid:

As it happens that puts [John Boehner] in roughly the same position as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who as Majority Leader last year said all options — including raising the retirement age — should be on the table.

In a speech last summer about entitlements and deficits, Hoyer said, “We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan.”

At his weekly press availability on Wednesday, I asked him if he still stood by his previous comments, or if, like Boehner, he’d rather keep his powder dry.

“Unlike Boehner [who supported raising the retirement age outright], what I said is it ought to be on the table,” Hoyer said. “We ought to consider all options, including raising the age, but there are a lot of other options also that can be considered and I also indicated that whatever we do needs to be done prospectively. And I think all parties agree with that.”

Look, unlike many liberal bloggers, I’m not a reflexive Steny Hoyer hater. He’s not incredibly liberal, but reports of his awfulness are often exaggerated. Not this time! Maybe I’m the stupid one here and I’m misconstruing this (the link doesn’t have any amplified remarks) but how can you peg retirement age to lifespan without knowing the future? I mean, health changes pretty dramatically in older age, in ways that are hard to predict. Does this mean you get, say, ten years of retirement and then you’re cut off? Or do they figure, hey, he’s 65 and healthy, why not work a few more years? How do you avoid demographic factors when considering this? Does race/ethnicity get involved? How could it not be? All of a sudden, this is a complete damn mess, and the cure seems far worse than the original disease of a modest budgetary shortfall.

Steny Hoyer

The Minority Whip tries out his legendary Alan Partridge impression...

I’ve written on this before, but it’s hard to find a debate on an issue that’s more beside the point than the one we have on Social Security, which isn’t surprising since it’s one the Beltway crowd has inserted itself into most heavily. The only argument for raising the retirement age is to save money on Social Security, that’s it. The cleanest solution to the Social Security problem is to spend more money on it to guarantee benefits. You could do this by raising taxes, perhaps by just eliminating the cap on payroll taxes for the wealthy. You could make some headway on this on the cut side, too. I’ve never heard anyone actually propose phasing out survivor benefits, which strikes me as a reasonable change to make as we transition from a set of senior citizens where the women were generally homemakers who had little education to one where women were more independent and career oriented. But that’s a change that makes sense according to societal factors, not just because we’re treating the bottom line as sacrosanct. Ultimately, though, raising the retirement age is a political nonstarter and a stupid idea. From the perspective of finding employment, it’s silly because it’s extremely hard to find a job when you’re 59, let alone 69. From the perspective of why should someone have to keep working into their late sixties in the most wealthy nation in the world if they don’t want to? it makes no sense. Over the past two elections, Democrats have gotten just hammered among older voters. Standing firm on the retirement age seems like a decent way of showing this important bloc that Democrats are watching out for them. But Hoyer evidently seems more interested in charming the Beltway elites, which is why it’s such a shame that he didn’t get forced out of the leadership by Jim Clyburn.

  1. Metavirus says:

    this whole “raising the age” garbage really makes me sick. it just goes to show you how fucking shallow we’ve become as a country.

    1. Social Security isn’t the fucking PROBLEM! Medicare and defense costs are a million times more dangerous in the near-, medium-, and long-term than social security fer fuxake! give it a fucking rest until you idiot legislators deal with the real problems.

    2. The only people who are living longer are people with upper middle class incomes or above. You know, people who don’t do any fucking manual labor. Ratcheting up the retirement age on everyone is just not feasible for the hundreds of millions of people at or below the median income level (whose life expectancy has generally stagnated over the last twenty years) who generally do physically demanding jobs up until they retire. When the fuck did we completely abdicate facts in this country? Does no one in Congress pay attention to basic statistics?

    Sorry, I just have a really big sore spot about conservative brain masturbation around cutting social security. it’s just diversionary garbage and i’m so very sick of it.

    • Rupert Psmith says:

      Amen to mighty Spaghetti for this! Yes, it’s not a problem except in the minds of the idiots who control our political discourse and must be pushed back against at every opportunity (and while I don’t hate Steny, he is really a dumber, more parochial version of Harry Reid). If you eliminated the high income FICA tax cap, you could solve our SS problems for the foreseeable future. But, gasp, that would mean taxing these pundits and politicos more … the horror.

  2. Schu says:

    It seems to me that the 2 greatest dangers to the budget is defense spending and granting tax cut to everyone, especially the rich. If the tax cuts worked, as the GOP claims, then we would not be in a rescission! If we could just get rid of the special interests long enough to go to a flat tax rate with no deductions we would be a lot better off. Like that will ever happen!

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