GOP senator's plan calls for raising Social Security retirement age

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) unveiled a proposal Thursday to raise the Social Security retirement age to 69 and cut cost-of-living adjustments for benefits.

Hutchison said her proposal, the Defend and Save Social Security Act, would save $416 billion over the next 10 years and reduce the public debt by $7.2 trillion by the year 2085.

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Hutchison is the latest of several Republican senators to propose cuts to Social Security benefits.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) introduced a plan in April that would increase the retirement age to 70 by 2032. Their proposal would reduce the public debt by $6.2 trillion by 2085.

Hutchison wrote a letter to Vice President Biden Thursday urging him to include her plan in negotiations over the debt limit.

“We cannot address our soaring deficits without reforming our broken entitlement programs,” she wrote. “Social Security’s $6.5 trillion unfunded obligation must be resolved, and I strongly encourage you to focus on Social Security’s impending fiscal problems.”

Hutchison’s plan would also increase the early retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2023. The measure endorsed by Paul, Lee and Graham would raise it to 64 by 2028.

She called for cutting the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment by one percentage point, so a 2.2 percent increase would be lowered to 1.2 percent.

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Hutchison argued that this is not a cut in “core benefits” because she is only reducing the increase.

Her proposal would not affect anyone who is 58 years old or older. 

Although she supports creating private Social Security accounts, her plan does not call for them.

Hutchison said that if Congress failed to curb Social Security costs, retirees’ monthly benefits would be cut by nearly 25 percent beginning in 2036.

Hutchison plans to retire from the Senate at the end of next year, and admitted she couldn’t be certain she would offer such an ambitious plan affecting the “third rail” of politics if she faced another election.

“I certainly understand people who might be looking at reelection. I think I would be doing this if I were seeking reelection, but I don’t know because I’m not,” she said.