A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial defended Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) Social Security proposal, claiming he would “save” the program, after the New Jersey Governor's plan was attacked by Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump. However, experts agree Christie's plan would make the program less solvent and hurt low income Americans.
The Union Leader, which endorsed Christie in November, claimed in a December 10 editorial that Trump was using “liberal scare tactics” when he criticized Christie's plan to raise the retirement age. The paper went on to praise Christie for being the “first candidate in either party to put forward a detailed plan to address entitlements.” The Union Leader continued:
But Christie's plan to save Social Security and Medicare wouldn't touch the retirement age for current retirees. Trump would know this, if he actually bothered to check his facts before speaking.
[Christie] would gradually raise the retirement age for younger workers, and means-test benefits for those making more than $200,000 per year in retirement income.
Several GOP candidates have backed responsible entitlement reform plans. Trump parrots liberal scare tactics, consistent with his long-held support for big government.
Trump would pander to seniors, do nothing, and watch Social Security go as bankrupt as one of his casinos.
Trumps criticism aside, experts agree that Christie's plan is both misguided and politically toxic. As Karen Smith, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told The New York Times, "[Christie's] proposal reduces program revenue and does not reduce benefits enough soon enough to make Social Security solvent." Comparing Christie's plan to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders' plan -- which the Urban Institute says would extend solvency -- Christie's will result in Social Security becoming insolvent sooner than if no changes were made.
Christie's plan relies heavily on the populist message of reducing benefits paid to wealthy Americans. As Vox's Matthew Yglesias points out, this popular selling point has been trumpeted by media while reporting on the proposal, despite, as he explains, Christie's plan actually being “terrible for the poor.” Citing life expectancy data, Yglesias writes that, because rich Americans live longer than poor Americans, Christie's plan “is a particularly cruel and regressive form of cut.”
As far as Christie's proposed plan to cut off Social Security benefits to those making over $200,000 a year, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) noted that “while the rich have a large share of the income, they don't have a large share of Social Security benefits.” CEPR concluded that Christie's proposal would only save about 1.1 percent of benefits currently being paid out.