The Slatest

Chris Christie Will Propose Social Security Means-Testing in New Hampshire Speech

Chris Christie at a Boys and Girls Club event in Newark in January 2014.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Leaning in to his potential 2016 presidential campaign identity as the candidate for the Republican Party’s budget-conscious moderates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will give a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday that proposes raising the Social Security retirement age, limiting benefits for those who make more than $80,000 a year in other income, and eliminating benefits entirely to those who make more than $200,000.

Income-related limits on Social Security are often referred to as “means-testing”; Gallup polling has found broad public support for means-testing, but strong opposition to the idea of raising the retirement age. Christie’s speech will propose raising the Social Security age from 67 to 69 and raising the average age at which seniors qualify for Medicare from 65 to 67. Slate’s William Saletan wrote in 2005 about how Social Security’s retirement age would be changed if it accounted for improvements in seniors’ health and productivity since the program’s 1935 launch—and, as it happens, Saletan concluded specifically that, by 2015, such hypothetical data-driven reforms would raise the retirement age to 73.


Of note: While means-testing and retirement-age reform proposals tend to be treated as good-faith ideas by liberal pundits, Christie also proposes to “transfer Medicaid management and funding over to the states” in a similar manner to what has been previously proposed by Paul Ryan. From New Hampshire’s WMUR:

Christie also proposes a “per capital allocation program for Medicaid” allowing states to create their own systems. Each state would receive a “set amount of funds per individual enrollee.”

That sounds like a block-grant proposal, and block grants—for reasons explained here and here—tend to trigger strong partisan suspicion.

Christie is also scheduled to “mingle with voters at a Manchester pizzeria” during his visit to New Hampshire, the Wall Street Journal reports.