Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee Attacks Chris Christie Over Social Security and Medicare

Opposes raising the eligibility age or means-testing the programs

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is more willing than the average Republican to unapologetically embrace domestic spending. He proved that again today, sniping at another potential presidential candidate—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—over entitlements. The Daily Caller reports:

God, Guns, Grits, Gravy, Gumbo, Goulash, Guacamole, Granola, Grapes, Goose Liver…
Gage Skidmore

In a speech this week, Christie proposed eventually raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of payments to wealthy seniors through means testing….

Huckabee then said of the proposed changes: "I would say it's not just no. It's you-know-what no. That we're going to rip this rug out from under people who have dutifully paid in their entire lives to a system."

"I'm not being just specifically critical of Christie," Huckabee added. "But that's not a reform. That's not some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace. Because what we're really embracing at that point, you're embracing a government that lied to its people. That took money from its people under one pretense, and then took it away from them at the time they started wanting to actually get what they paid for all these years."

In its broad strokes, this fits Huckabee's attempt to distinguish himself as the blue-collar candidate for the Republican nomination, though when you get to the specifics that gets more muddled. Raising the eligibility age would make the system more regressive, since wealthier people tend to live longer than poorer people. But means-testing would have the opposite effect, and that might have some appeal for the populist constituency the candidate is seeking. It's interesting that Huckabee challenged Christie's proposal in full, rather than splitting the issue.

Meanwhile, yet another potential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, just joined Christie in supporting a hike in the Social Security eligibility age. So if this is how Huckabee plans to make himself stand out from the other contenders, he'll probably have plenty of chances to keep at it.

Addendum: John McCormack contrasts Huckabee's current comments with what he was saying about Medicare three years ago.

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  1. Yes – our government lied. They took our money to save for our retirement and fucking blew it the second they received it. They spent it on every corrupt vote-buying bs scheme they could think of – both parties.

    1. Also hookers.

      1. See Service, Secret and the DEA.

  2. Christie vs Huckabee

    Cripple fight !

    1. America’s biggest loser?

      1. This

        How about a 3 way between Fatboy, Huckster, and Sweater Vest. That way all the heavyweight losers will be in the ring.

        1. Seconded – I’d pay to see that.

        2. What do you have against Jim Tressel?

          1. Interns bartering shoes for tattoos is one of the great evils of the modern age, and any manager that dares to let such misconduct happen right under his nose deserves nothing less than 80 lashes. Tressel is lucky that he merely lost his job.

  3. you’re embracing a government that lied to its people

    Has he been paying attention at all?

    1. Besides which, he has it all wrong.

      The lie was that the system is sustainable. Cutting back is probably the most honest thing to do.

      1. “But I paid a total of X into the system over my entire life! It’s only fair that I get 4X back!”

  4. I might be quite a bit denser today that I am on other days, so would anyone mind explaining the Alt-Text to me?

    1. That’s what Huckabee had for breakfast.

    2. Goose liver is what those uneducated hicks in flyover country call foie gras

  5. In fairness to Huckabee, he has a point. All cutting benefits under these programs is doing is telling people “fuck you, you fucked up and trusted us”. Now maybe doing that is inevitable. It probably is. That being said, maybe the government ought to cut a few other places before it does this. The problem with these reform proposals is that they are completely separate from any proposals to cut the rest of government. Without it being part of a larger plan to cut all of government, why the hell would any recipient of these programs support cutting them?

    1. why the hell would any recipient of these programs support cutting them?

      If they don’t care about the long term fiscal healthy of U.S., then there isn’t really a good reason. They got theirs, fuck their children and grandchildren.

      But Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid are the biggest drivers of the debt and will only get worse. You could cut every other government program entirely and it won’t matter in 30-50 years one bit.

      There are good reasons for cutting other government programs, but long term solvency isn’t really one of them.

      1. If they don’t care about the long term fiscal healthy of U.S., then there isn’t really a good reason. They got theirs, fuck their children and grandchildren.

        Only if you are stupid enough to trust them not to just take the money they are saving and spend it elsewhere. See my post below. That is why it has to be part of a complete overall of government. Unless you do that, the recipients will rightfully think the government is just fucking them to pay off other people. And they would almost certainly be right about that.

        And why is it that only the old people must bear the burden of fixing the finances? How about we cut the rest of government first and then go to the old people? Why should someone see their Social Security Cut while we are still spending a single dime on things like the Department of Education?

        1. And why is it that only the old people must bear the burden of fixing the finances?

          Because most of the spending goes to them. This is just math. Like I said, you could cut the entire discretionary budget and it won’t make a lick of difference. Demographic changes mean that too many people will be collecting off of programs that too few people are paying in to.

          I haven’t seen an analysis, but I’d bet that if you diverted all of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid into the discretionary budget and assumed a historical rate of growth in government spending, that it would at least be enough to avoid a total fiscal catastrophe. Spending on entitlements is just growing too quickly.

          1. Because most of the spending goes to them

            So what? They also paid a whole lot of taxes too. Maybe they should get most of the spending. Beyond that, without a guarantee the money won’t just be spent elsewhere, why should they support any reform?

            I know it is party line on Reason to hate old people, but money being sent to cronies is just as spent as money being sent to old people. What possible reason is there to believe that Congress won’t just steal any money saved through entitlement reform? I don’t see any. Unless it is part of an overall program to cut and restrain all spending, all entitlement reform will be, is just cutting people’s social security so the money can be properly stolen by Congress.

            1. “What possible reason is there to believe that Congress won’t just steal any money saved through entitlement reform?”

              A good entitlement reform might have as a feature that they don’t get the money in the first place.

              1. I don’t see how it would. You could privatize sure. But you can only do that with young people. You still are stuck paying for older people. Moreover, the entire point of reform is to save money. Any dollar that is saved can just be spent elsewhere. And that is exactly what would happen absent reform of the entire government.

                1. If the system is privatized then that money is not ‘saved’ for the government, it never gets there.

                  1. Not at first. Only years later. And there is nothing to prevent the government from later confiscating those private plans in the name of fairness. They tax private retirements at obscene levels now, why would these be any different?

                    Moreover, once relieved of the burden of paying for entitlements, there is nothing to stop Congress from using its new found credit worthiness to just go bankrupt by spending on other things.

                  2. Exactly this.

            2. Beyond that, without a guarantee the money won’t just be spent elsewhere, why should they support any reform?…Unless it is part of an overall program to cut and restrain all spending, all entitlement reform will be, is just cutting people’s social security so the money can be properly stolen by Congress.

              This was the point of my second paragraph. Current entitlement spending is a problem, but it’s not the catastrophic problem that future spending is going to become. Again, I haven’t seen anyone crunch the numbers, but I’d bet that from the point of view of fiscal health, it would be better that Congress steal all current entitlement spending and divert it to their cronies and then grow spending at the historical rate than to let entitlements grow/payments shrink at their projected rates due to the aging of the population.

              1. but I’d bet that from the point of view of fiscal health, it would be better that Congress steal all current entitlement spending and divert it to their cronies and then grow spending at the historical rate than to let entitlements grow/payments shrink at their projected rates due to the aging of the population.

                And you would lose that bet. Not because entitlements are not growing exponentially. They are. You would lose it because no amount of free money will ever satisfy an unrestrained Congress. Your assumption is that Congress can’t steal as fast as entitlements grow and you are sadly mistaken in that.

                1. And I think I’d win that bet because of the historical trends in spending over the last 50 years.

                  And let’s be clear about one thing: we should cut spending broadly. I’m not arguing against that. And going after the discretionary budget may be necessary politically. But when it comes to long term solvency, focusing on the DOE and larger discretionary budget is a red herring.

                  1. I am not saying only focus on those. You are right that we have to do something about entitlements. I am saying you have to focus on all of it.

      2. Means testing would just mean that you give up your benefit so that other old people’s benefits are protected. From my perspective I’d have a lot better chance of seeing that money if it went to my grandparents, who would definitely get means tested out of a benefit, than if it goes to your grandparents. This isn’t a intergenerstional issue but a intragenerational issue when means testing gets involved. But I guess redistributionism isn’t an issue in this case since it doesn’t effect billionaire Reason donors. Hell those fossils probally give money to their church or even the Santorum campaign.

        1. Means testing would just make it even more pointless to save for retirement. It is funny how Reason is all for means testing. I thought incentives mattered and we wanted people to save more. I guess not.

          These programs are not going to go away. What is most likely to happen is they will be means tested via cuts in benefits and confiscatory taxes on retirements and 401Ks such that the middle class will get totally fucked and everyone who is not rich will end up retiring on the same income as that of a transvestite crack whore.

          1. Are you saying people would save less because they wouldn’t want to be put in the bracket that gets their SS benefits means tested?

            1. Are you saying people would save less because they wouldn’t want to be put in the bracket that gets their SS benefits means tested?

              Most likely what people would do is start shedding assets as they get closer to retirement. The same way people do now before they go on medicaid.

              1. I can see medicaid, because it makes a rather open ended commitment of insurance, but the benefit from SS is much more defined, isn’t it?

                1. I can see medicaid, because it makes a rather open ended commitment of insurance, but the benefit from SS is much more defined, isn’t it?

                  I don’t think so. You are paid a certain amount from the day you retire until you die; that amount depends on what you contributed. If you means test it, then that amount would go down, so the incentive is to shed assets similar to what people do with medicaid.

                  1. Yes, as I said SS is a fixed amount. What I meant is that medicaid is different, it’s a more open ended insurance benefit.

                    1. What I’m getting at Ivan is that to become eligible for Medicaid means to be in a program that would cover a chunk of your medical needs, which could be very high and something you could never have saved to cover, while SS is going to be this fixed amount that you could more easily recognize that making over a certain amount is ultimately ‘worth’ becoming ineligible. If that makes any sense.

                    2. I see what you are saying Bo. My point is how long will you live after you retire, and will have enough savings to cover that. If you are close enough that your house and a small savings are all the assets you have, and I would guess most people would fall into that range, it makes sense to shed them to get on a system that would pay for the rest of your life, giving the assets to your kids. The rich will be fine, the poor won’t notice, but the middle class could be screwed.

            2. Yes. From the recipient end, means testing amounts to a 100% tax on retirement benefits. Why save for retirement if I am going to lose a dollar in SS benefits for every dollar I gain in retirement income? If I am rich and can save a lot, that doesn’t affect me. But if I am middle or lower middle class and can only save some, that pretty much destroys the incentive to save.

              1. Wouldn’t it have this off-setting effect though: if I know I’m well over the line I would know I can’t count on what I would have gotten from SS and would put an equivalent amount away?

            3. Seeing as how the endgame is sucking 401Ks into the SS to boost its solvency that’s hardlt unimaginable. SS has tons and tons of income data on each person it’s not like they couldn’t tie cuts to past income not present means. But that doesn’t start getting people wedded to the idea that retirement savings are just one more source of funding for SS.

          2. Thats the thing. I’d be a lot less skeptical of Reasons reformism if they said fine lets rescind the SS cap and make all income subject to SS taxes. I don’t like that policy at all, but at least it seems to come from a position other than-lets sacrifice every group possible to insulate the super-rich. Class warfare isn’t just directed at the billionaires who fund reason. It’s often a lot more brutally directed at the kulaks. But the kulaks are rarely libertarian so they don’t get much sympathy from Reason.

            1. There is that. Reason loathes most of the country for the crimes of not being fashionable or cool. The least fashionable and cool people in America are middle class old people. So, they are always happy to see them get fucked in the name or progress.

              As solutions go, lifting the cap of SS taxes is one of the least bad options available. I would take that over confiscation of 401Ks or means testing any day.

            2. Class warfare is directed at the high kulaks in particular for two main reasons. First, that’s where the money is. Second, the ruling elite wants to maintain its status, and emergence of a nouveau riche among the high kulaks threatens that.

    2. Remember when Bush proposed partially privatizing Social Security right after the 2004 election – and every Republican ran away like a Frenchman? That was probably the last chance of fixing it.

      1. Until it goes completely belly up. That will fix it.

      2. You can’t do something like that without both parties getting behind it. Even if the Republicans hadn’t run away, it wouldn’t have changed anything.

        1. You can’t do something like that without both parties getting behind it.

          The same could have been said about Obamacare. For all the rhetoric, what is the GOP doing to reverse it?

          1. Sure it could. And that is why it took 60 votes and illegal procedural maneuvering to pass it. And the Republicans are doing a lot. They shut down the government in an attempt to keep it from being put in. They don’t have a veto proof majority. Short of closing the entire government, what are they supposed to do?

            And lets not forget when the Republicans did shut down the government, Reason had a fit about how stupid they were.

            1. When I read this I imagine pom poms for some reason…

              1. Because you are a moron?

                1. It sounds like more blatant than usual team cheeleading.

              2. Shut up, Bo. Nobody cares what you think.

    3. I will gladly accept a 30% cut in my benefit subject to a few modest conditions.

      First, all employees, politicians, and political appointees that are in any way employed by the Federal government or any government-managed enterprise also receive a 30% cut in their current compensation. (I’d want all them subject to the pay cut, but would accept exemption of any such employee whose compensation is less than 200% of poverty line, if there are any.)

      Second, retirement benefits for Federal and GME employees, politicians, and political appointees are limited to those covered by FICA taxes and their own and matching contributions to a 403(b) account. If the government is to renege on its Social Security obligations, it damn well better renege on the pension obligations to the politicians and bureaucrats who caused the problem.

      Third, all Federal politicians become subject to a 95% marginal rate on all future income above twice that of the highest Federal office they’ve ever held. It’s time to clawback the ill-gotten gains of the avaricious political elite.

      If the people are to suffer austerity, it is only just that their “public servants” do the same, especially since these “public servants” created the mess that necessitates the austerity.

      1. That sounds nice and all, but your program wouldn’t do any good. There isn’t enough money there. The problem is the size of government not that Congress or some individual bureacrat makes too much government.

        I would take a 30% cut in benefits in exchange for nothing less than a 40% cut in government spending as a whole and a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting government spending from growing at a rate faster than the population absent a declaration of war and then only exempting defense spending.

        1. I would take a 30% cut in benefits in exchange for nothing less than a 40% cut in government spending as a whole

          Since SS+MC accounts for about 60% of government spending, that would require a 55% cut in all other areas of spending, including defense. If defense was completely exempted, all other spending would have decrease by 70%.

          Mathematically possible, but politically infeasible. Of course, so is the whole idea.

          1. Actually, SS = 25%, MC = 25%, D = 15% so the total of SS+MC is 50% and the cut necessary if defense is not exempt is 50%, not 55%.

        2. Yeah. I suppose that you’d have to cut the headcounts of the DoEd, DoL, DoEn, DoE, DoHS, etc. by 30% also. Of course, a 30% pay cut would do some of that automatically.

          Anyway, it’s just a fantasy. Nobody is going to do anything other than “ask for Americans to contribute their fair share”, which translates to “raise taxes”.

          I fully expect that, in fact, my own SS benefit will be taxed away one way or another.

      2. Piker.

        Any SSA money you lose due to means testing MUST be DEDUCTABLE from your income in the year you lose them or the person supporting the idea should be prosecuted for fraud. Fuck, when you file your income taxes they don’t pretend you didn’t pay withholding, you get a W2 that says you paid it.

        But for SSA means testing they want to get away with not making the loss of benefits tax deductible.

        For example: in 2011 I had 14K withheld for income tax, plus 6K withheld for FICA. When I file my taxes, I say I paid 14K in income taxes. If I lose my FICA benefits by meas testing, then I really paid 20K in income taxes in 2010 and I should be allowed to claim that extra 6K from my adjusted income.

    4. It’s worse John. It creates even more protected classes and makes the system more complicated and more litigious. What kind of sick fuck wants MORE protected classes???

  6. It is one thing to say “we are out of money and we have got to cut these and a lot of other programs to save the country from bankruptcy.” That gives people a rational reason to support a cut, since the alternative is take a cut now or get nothing later after the government goes bankrupt. It is quite another thing to say “we are going to ‘reform’ this program and screw you out of the payments you were counting on and you can trust us to use that money to keep the country out of bankruptcy and not just spend it elsewhere”. No one is going to say yes to that? Why would they?

    I know it is fashionable to talk about all the dead beat old people. But I would rather give the money to them than go to support the bureaucracy or corporate welfare to some scum bag like Elon Musk. Republicans and Democrats both never talk about reforming these programs as part of a larger plan to cut government in general and get the country back on a sound footing. Since they never do, I can only conclude they don’t plan to use any of the money saved by entitlement reform to fix the government’s finances. They just plan to steal it and give it to their cronies. So, I am with the old people. Fuck them. If we are going to go bankrupt anyway, I would rather see grandma get the money than some shit head crony.

  7. I don’t know which of the 2 of them is the biggest statist.

    I guess Christy wins by default because he’d probably kiss Obama on the mouth, and I don’t think Huckabee would.

    1. Christy is definitely the biggest, but they’re both statists.

      1. Heh., You did something there, and I saw it.

  8. Huckleberry is right: Government “took money from its people under one pretense, and then took it away from them at the time they started wanting to actually get what they paid for all these years.” Of course “government … lied to its people”; that’s what governments do.

    Social Security has a long history of outright lies, intentional deception, and reneging on perceived “promises” created by government propaganda.

    Government has already imposed means-testing on Social Security and hiked the age of eligibility. Means testing is accomplished with the highly regressive, non-actuarial payout schedule on benefits (90%, 35%, and 15% tiers on benefits) and the highly progressive taxation of those benefits (0-35% tax on benefits). The payout schedule has always been regressive, but it has become more and more regressive over the years. Social Security benefits were originally not income taxed because “contributions” are paid out of after-tax income. Taxation of benefits began in the 1980s. The hike in eligibility age occurred in the 1980s.

    1. And they want to pretend you aren’t taking a loss. No one propsing means testing ever says anything about the loss of the benefit as a tax deduction.

      And like the AMT,it will be designed to catch the highest 1% at first and then in less than a generation it will nab 60% of the people

  9. One way to solve the “you lied” problem is by raising the minimum retirement age to collect to 66 and the “normal” age to 70 for all those now entering the SS system when they get their first job.
    “Means testing” is crap if it means those seniors who scrimped and saved now take a benefit reduction while Joe and Susie Spendthrift enjoyed the good life and now have no means other than their s.s. checks.

  10. Because what we’re really embracing at that point, you’re embracing a government that lied to its people.

    Welcome to the party, Huckster.

  11. As far as the whining about, “But they paid into the system!” is concerned, here’s how I look at it. Just think of it like every other dollar you paid in taxes: wasted.

    1. If it is all wasted anyway, then I guess you won’t mind paying higher taxes to pay for these people’s benefits. You don’t like their whining about the taxes they paid in. Well, they don’t like your whining about paying higher taxes. You seem to forget Brooks, people can tell you to go fuck yourself just as easily as you can tell them to do so.

      1. “If it is all wasted anyway, then I guess you won’t mind paying higher taxes to pay for these people’s benefits. ”

        Huh?

    2. wrong.

      At least you got to claim the withholding as taxes already paid when you filed that year. You don’t get to do that for FICA and none of the means testing proponents ever mention that.

  12. Christie vs. Huckabee?

    “Awful possibility in these matters is both men sustaining mortal injury”

  13. I’m continually amazed at how many people fall for the means-testing canard. Supporting means testing is supporting increased taxation. And lying about it.

    Why get pissed because a rich guy who paid into the system gets a tiny (for him) check? This was known decades ago; suddenly it’s bad because the government is insolvent?

    Means testing just means more protected classes. Anyone supporting that is a progressive.

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