Republicans Insist They Won’t Touch Social Security But Continue to Talk About Changing Social Security

During his state of the union this year, President Joe Biden created what appeared to be a moment of unity. Republicans and Democrats alike cheered when he said, “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?” But now, weeks after that moment, two prominent Republicans are endorsing raising the retirement age.

During appearances on Sunday news shows, GOP Sen. John Kennedy proposed raising the retirement age, and Rep. Nancy Mace said that upping the retirement age “has to be on the table” along with Medicare and Medicaid reform.

“For people who are in their 20s, their life expectancy will probably be 85 to 90. Does it really make sense to allow someone who’s in their 20s today to retire at 62?” Kennedy said on Fox News. Kennedy added that current life expectancy is 77 and claimed that it will continue to go up, but life expectancy in the United States has declined since hitting a high of 78.9 years in 2014. In the last year alone, average life expectancy decreased from 77 to 76.1, according to data from the CDC. Life expectancy for Black Americans is also significantly lower than for white Americans. Black men, for example, have a life expectancy of 68 years. Currently, 62-year-olds qualify for partial retirement benefits, but the full retirement age is transitioning to 67, due to legislation passed in 1983.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Rep. Nancy Mace said that raising the retirement age is “something that has to be on the table, we have to look at.” Mace then speculated that she “won’t have retirement funds” because she is “assuming that Social Security will be insolvent.” The Social Security Trust Fund is expected to be solvent until 2035, and even after that would still be able to pay out around 77 percent of benefits.


“We do have to look at Social Security. We’ve got to look at spending in this country — mandatory and discretionary — if we’re gonna take on fixing the Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, you name it,” Mace said. “We’ve gotta get serious about it.”

Mace went on to say that she does not support raising the retirement age for current retirees or those close to retirement but rather for younger generations. Republicans love to act as if raising the retirement age or reducing benefits is the only solution for Social Security, but the fact remains that Congress could change the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax — currently $160,200 — to increase its funds.