An editorial in New Hampshire's Union Leader praised Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) proposal to reform Social Security but avoided mentioning specific components of the plan, which critics have called “particularly cruel and regressive.”
The January 17 editorial applauded Christie's eagerness to talk about his “detailed plan to save Social Security and Medicare” during a presidential debate while other candidates avoided making specific recommendations. The editorial did not mention any of the specific components of Christie's plan:
It's easy to talk tough on taxes, especially in a Republican primary.
It's much harder to tackle the long-term unfunded liabilities in the nation's entitlement programs that threaten to swamp an already unbalanced federal budget.
During last week's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Chris Christie made sure voters knew how he plans to tackle this vital fiscal challenge.
Debate moderator Maria Bartiromo asked Marco Rubio, “One of the biggest fiscal challenges is our entitlement programs, particularly Social Security and Medicare. What policies will you put forward to make sure these programs are more financially secure?”
Rubio ducked, ignoring entitlements completely in order to attack Ted Cruz's plan for a value added tax. He and Cruz then went back and forth on the issue.
Christie jumped in to actually answer Bartiromo's question. Rubio tried to get back in, but Christie told him, “You already had your chance, Marco, and you blew it.”
Vox's Matthew Yglesias called the details of Christie's reform plan “particularly cruel and regressive,” and noted that the plan would “especially inflict pain on the poor.” Yglesias explained that because Christie's plan would raise the age at which a person can collect Social Security to 69 years old over time, the plan would effectively cut total benefits for the poor because low income people have shorter life expectancy than higher earners.
Experts have explained that Christie's plan, which also reduces Social Security payments to certain future recipients making over $80,000 per year and ends them entirely for those making $200,000 in other income, will produce little savings for the program. Urban Institute senior fellow Karen Smith told The New York Times, "[Christie's] proposal reduces program revenue and does not reduce benefits enough soon enough to make Social Security solvent." National Women's Law Center vice president for economic security Joan Entmacher added, “you can't get much savings out of means-testing Social Security unless you go after the middle class.”
The Union Leader's praise of Christie's willingness to discuss his Social Security plan while overlooking the plan's specific components has become a trend since the paper's endorsement of Christie for president in November 2015. The editorial board previously echoed Christie's campaign slogan praising his ability to "[tell] it like it is," leapt to promote his inflated counter-terrorism credentials and praised his economic record, all while newspapers from his home state were critical of his leadership during his tenure as governor.