As older Americans face a looming "retirement crisis," presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination Bernie Sanders has come out swinging against undeclared GOP rival Jeb Bush, who recently suggested raising the retirement age to 68 or 70.
"I have a hard time understanding what world Gov. Bush and his billionaire backers live in," said Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.), founder of the Senate Defending Social Security Caucus. "When the average Social Security benefit is just $1,328 a month, and more than one-third of our senior citizens rely on Social Security for virtually all of their income, our job must be to expand benefits, not cut them."
"It reflects a callous insensitivity toward working Americans, a lofty patrician blindness toward the lives of the hoi polloi."
—Richard Eskow, Campaign for America's Future
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has stated that raising the retirement age is a benefit cut, since workers would have to pay more in to get the same level of benefits.
"I think it needs to be phased in over an extended period of time," Bush said of raising the retirement age. "We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70. ... And that, by itself, will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40."
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In keeping with the Republican Party's "anti-elderly" platform, Bush's remark indicates that he's privileged and "out of touch," wrote Campaign for America's Future senior fellow Richard Eskow on Monday. "It reflects a callous insensitivity toward working Americans, a lofty patrician blindness toward the lives of the hoi polloi. What kind of person, given vast inherited wealth and power, sets about worsening the financial circumstances of most Americans—without even bothering to learn what those circumstances are?"
In a separate piece published this week, Eskow noted that, along with Bush, most leading Republican presidential candidates are pushing cuts to Social Security, with only former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee opposed to such cuts.
Sanders, who supports expanding benefits as opposed to cutting them, described Bush's plan as "just a continuation of the war that is being waged by the Republicans against working-class Americans in order to reward billionaires on Wall Street."
The senator has proposed legislation that would eliminate the cap on all taxable income above $250,000 so that millionaires and billionaires pay the same percentage of their income into Social Security as middle-class Americans.