(Bloomberg) — House conservatives on Wednesday proposed raising the US retirement age to collect Social Security, handing Democrats damaging political ammunition ahead of the 2024 election.
The proposal by the 176-member House Republican Study Committee would gradually increase the retirement age, ultimately hitting 69 years old for those turning 62 in 2033. The current retirement age for full benefits is 66 and rising gradually to 67.
Democrats successfully used similar proposals from fiscal conservatives to their advantage in the 2022 midterm election. Their message that the GOP was targeting old-age benefits resonated with voters and was credited with limiting Democrats’ losses in the House.
Under the plan, which is unlikely to become law, benefits for current retirees wouldn’t be cut. But for those expecting an earlier retirement benefit, lifetime payouts would be lower.
The group has abandoned a proposal from last year that would have increased the Medicare retirement age, but they do seek to further privatize the program.
President Joe Biden and House Republicans got into a shouting match during the State of the Union address in February after Biden said some in the GOP favored cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene called the president a liar while others disputed the president’s comment.
“As we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now,” Biden said to applause from both sides of the aisle. “We got unanimity!”
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Democrat Brendan Boyle seized on the proposal, saying Republicans are “attempting to renege on our sacred promise to American workers and seniors.”
RSC members on Wednesday said the group has a responsibility to again push their the politically perilous proposal, casting it as a more sustainable option than leaving the programs untouched.
Failing to change the program would lead to an eventual 23% benefit cut to Social Security and 11% cut to Medicare provider payments, said Oklahoma Republican Kevin Hern, the group’s chairman.
“It saves Medicare and Social Security from Biden’s destructive plan,” Hern told reporters.
The plan, the group states, would balance the federal budget in seven years by cutting some $16 trillion in spending and $5 trillion in taxes. The RSC board approved the proposal but its members didn’t vote on it.
Hern, who often serves as a bridge between House leaders and conservatives, said he expects the House to vote on the group’s plan.