When he was still leader of the Republican minority, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) put himself on the line and explicitly advocated raising the retirement age to 70. He stood by the comment for weeks until last month when he called it a mistake. Though he didn’t disown the idea, he said that, as a party elder, he should not have been setting the terms for a debate that will fall to the entire Congress, if and when it happens.
As it happens that puts him in roughly the same position as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who as Majority Leader last year said all options — including raising the retirement age — should be on the table.
In a speech last summer about entitlements and deficits, Hoyer said, “We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan.”
At his weekly press availability on Wednesday, I asked him if he still stood by his previous comments, or if, like Boehner, he’d rather keep his powder dry.
“Unlike Boehner [who supported raising the retirement age outright], what I said is it ought to be on the table,” Hoyer said. “We ought to consider all options, including raising the age, but there are a lot of other options also that can be considered and I also indicated that whatever we do needs to be done prospectively. And I think all parties agree with that.”
As it happens that puts him in just about the same boat as Boehner, at least with respect to the question of raising the retirement age. Many Democrats support the idea of raising the wage-cap on the Social Security payroll tax to shore up the program indefinitely, and the GOP doesn’t. But there remains fairly strong bipartisan support for considering a higher retirement age, too.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.