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Republicans Say It Aloud: They Want to Raise the Retirement Age

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Can Republicans keep building their support among working-class voters?

Not if the Republicans have anything to say about it.

Earlier today, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) released its recommendations for the fiscal 2025 budget. Among its particulars was a real working-class winner: raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility.

Lest you think this is the recommendation of a small number of far-right crackpots, think again. It’s the recommendation of a whole mess of far-right crackpots. Fully 173 of the 220 Republican members of the House belong to the RSC. It includes the MAGAnauts, but also all the stray acolytes of Calvin Coolidge, whose idea of utopia requires letting the market run amok.

Aware, perhaps, that flatly declaring they want to extend the work life of an assembly-line or construction worker, of a sales clerk or a trucker, could yield unpleasant consequences, the RSC chose to state its policy as gently as it could. What Republicans support, they wrote, is making “modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees”—after commendably citing one editorial that called for raising the age above its current 67.

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At times, the inspiration for their suggestions isn’t so much Coolidge as it’s Ebenezer Scrooge. The case for cutting back on SSI payments to the aged, blind, and disabled, including blind and disabled children, is that “Tragically, children who received SSI payments often become dependent on the program as adults.” Clearly, any blind or disabled kids will just have to grow out of it.

Indeed, lest Americans grow dangerously healthy, the RSC also calls for taxing health benefits that exceed a certain level, thereby helping those beleaguered employers to cut benefits that might otherwise go for mammograms and other frivolities. Not to play favorites, the RSC also calls for major cuts to health programs for mothers and young children, and to school lunch programs. If Americans want to be healthy, in other words, they damn well should be able to pay for it themselves. (There is no reference in the RSC’s 180-page report, by the way, to raising the federal minimum wage over its current $7.25.)

For that matter, the RSC also demands a revocation of the EPA’s standards on heavy-duty vehicle emissions. If Americans want to stay healthy, they should also know enough not to drive behind trucks.

But it’s the party’s support for raising the retirement age that most immediately undercuts the Republicans’ claim to be the true champions of the working class. The Biden campaign jumped right on it, and it will surely be the subject of several gazillion Democratic ads between now and November. Many RSC members must have known that, but they just can’t help themselves. It’s in their DNA.

And now, when they talk to Americans who work on their feet rather than sitting down, the Democrats have a beautifully clear and simple case to make.

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