Fewer than 10% of anybody polled in the last four decades agreed with Nikki Haley that we spend too much on Social Security.
Nikki Haley wants to be president, which remains hypothetically possible… I guess. Donald Trump might, for example, be struck by a falling piano while walking down the sidewalk. Or his legal problems could intervene. But the wheels of justice don’t seem to be turning quickly enough to save Haley from a crushing primary defeat. She trails the former president by a
two-to-one margin in her home state and more than four to one among Republicans nationwide.
Among her many flaws, Haley wants to cut Social Security. Just last August, she said that a retirement age of 65 is “way too low” and should be raised “according to life expectancy.” That’s misdirection; the current retirement age for Social Security is 67, not 65, and United States life expectancy is falling, not rising.
Raising Social Security’s statutory retirement age by even a year is mathematically indistinguishable from a 6% to 7% across-the-board benefit cut. Because of the way Social Security’s benefits are calculated, that’s true regardless of when one claims benefits: at 62, 67, 70, or any other time. Raising the retirement age to 70 would worsen inequality and substantially cut benefits, especially for lower-income workers, as David Rosnick and Dean Baker found in 2010.
There’s a clean way to increase Social Security spending without “bankrupting” anything or overhauling our economic theories: by raising taxes on Dimon and the people who filled that November conference room. But you won’t hear Nikki Haley mention that.
Governor Haley, don’t lose this number: 64.3. That’s the average retirement age for countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In 2010, Social Security’s full retirement age was 66 years. If it had been linked to life expectancy then, it would have been reduced—to roughly the OECD average.
But fearmongering and facts don’t mix, and Haley’s gone into full-on fear mode over Social Security. She draws heavily on all the phony talking points and pie charts cooked up by billionaire-funded “think tanks” and astroturf groups.
Despite decades of propagandizing, voters aren’t buying it. A review of long-term polling on the subject found that most Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have consistently viewed Social Security “very favorably” for nearly 40 years. This positive opinion was essentially the same for younger and older people, and for both white and Hispanic voters. (Black voters were even more favorable.)
But then, Haley wasn’t speaking to voters—not yet. She was making her pitch to mega-donors like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who last November told a room filled with CEOs and Wall Street executives to get out their checkbooks for her. Other conference attendees were “just folks” types like Elon Musk, billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman, and Disney head Bob Iger.
“Get a choice on the Republican side that might be better than Trump,” Dimon told the elite gathering—meaning, presumably, better for business. (That remark is likely to reappear in Trump’s campaign materials, as the huckster ex-president seeks to burnish his faux-populist credentials.)
Dimon’s remark was well-timed. As he praised the former governor, a group of CEOs was announcing a new pro-Haley Super PAC.
Who is Jamie Dimon? Members of the House Financial Services Committee cited his bank’s practice of “pinklining” (discriminatory lending toward women) and its role (at least, as of 2019) as “the number one funder of fossil fuels in the world.” Dimon’s bank looked the other way as Bernie Madoff bilked widows, orphans, and charities and earned some well-deserved notoriety for its extensive business ties to Jeffrey Epstein (a JPM exec visited Epstein in prison).
For at least two decades, JPMorgan Chase systematically engaged in enough criminal activity to qualify it as the largest organized-crime syndicate in North America. It’s far worse than Enron, with crimes and violations that include foreclosure fraud, investor fraud, cheating customers, and market manipulation.
Before Dimon made his pitch for her, an “unnamed banking source” told Axios that Dimon and Haley had been having regular talks about the economy.
Like the saying goes: Game recognize game.
Haley’s billionaire-backed agenda, including her call for Social Security cuts, added to her New Hampshire loss. Political scientist Thomas Ferguson and his team found that Trump performed even better in parts of the state that had lower incomes and negative growth, concluding:
The... results testify how little many of the also ran’s favorite economic themes—the perils of the deficit, cutting Social Security, or crypto—moved Trump’s core constituency. Large numbers of Trump voters count on Social Security to get by...
Even if the improbable happens and Trump implodes, Haley would still have to face voters eventually. Here’s another number she shouldn’t lose: 10%. The historical polling data found that, for nearly four decades, “at no time did more than 10% (of those polled) state that too much was spent” on Social Security.
Fewer than 10% of Republicans thought it. Fewer than 10% of self-described conservatives thought it. Fewer than 10% of anybody, in fact, agreed with Nikki Haley that we spend too much on Social Security. Except for a brief period in the 1990s, an outright majority of Americans has said we spend too little.
They’re right. There’s a clean way to increase that spending without “bankrupting” anything or overhauling our economic theories: by raising taxes on Dimon and the people who filled that November conference room. But you won’t hear Nikki Haley mention that.
Here’s a number the rest of us shouldn’t lose: $8 million. That’s what Haley reportedly made cashing in on her government career—as a director for Boeing (of plane crash and exploding door fame); giving speeches to banks like Barclays and groups like the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which “provided more money in a day than Haley had previously earned in a year”; and other sources.
She’ll be fine in retirement. It’s the rest of us who should worry—about Nikki Haley and her friends.