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Reps. Hoyer, Clyburn Continue to Tout Retirement Age Increase

photo: AFL-CIO via Flickr

Some House Democrats have tried to use John Boehner’s comments about raising the retirement age against Republicans in the fall elections, but that becomes impossible to do when Steny Hoyer keeps going out and undermining the effort by mimicking Boehner.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reiterated Tuesday that raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits should be on the table as an option for cutting the deficit — even though some of his fellow Democrats have ripped the idea and groups have started airing ads against it […]

“Age is one of the considerations that is obviously on the table,” Hoyer said. “It was in 1983” when the last major Social Security commission resulted in raising the retirement age to 67 […]

He sought to portray the split between the two parties on Social Security as one party being for privatization and the other against it rather than on the retirement age issue. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also mentioned a higher retirement age as a possibility.

The left hand doesn’t know what the other left hand is doing. The DCCC pounced on Boehner’s comments on the retirement age. Nancy Pelosi told Netroots Nation she was firmly against any increase. But Hoyer and Clyburn have been touting this consistently. If the leadership is split on this issue, you know that the rank and file isn’t unanimously against it. One can only include that a retirement age increase, which is a benefit cut of up to 20%, would pass the House of Representatives, inside whatever package of recommendations comes from the cat food commission.

Raising the retirement age only makes sense if you buy the familiar arguments about increased life expectancy and less workers per retiree, both of which have been debunked. And making the retirement age 70 offers far less bang for your buck in balancing the system than lifting the payroll tax cap so it does what it was designed to do, namely cover 90% of all earnings.

Here’s the punch line. Hoyer and Clyburn will join Pelosi, John Larson, cat food commission member Xavier Becerra and other House Democrats on the Capitol steps this morning for an event honoring the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act of 1935. I wonder if they’ll celebrate the majesty of forcing ironworkers and tree surgeons to work until the end of their seventh decade, or keep that to themselves just for today.

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David Dayen

David Dayen