Senator Mitt Romney suggests he would support cutting retirement benefits for young Americans


Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool

  • Romney has suggested he would favor cutting retirement benefits for young Americans to deal with debt.

  • He warned that the United States could find itself in “a whole lot of trouble” if it did not intervene.

  • Calls to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits haven’t completely died out among Republicans.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has suggested he would favor cutting retirement benefits for young Americans in a bid to stabilize safety net programs.

“If we’re ever going to get our debt under control, we’ll have to find a way to increase income, which I don’t like, or find a way to adjust our benefits for the long term, not right now. Retirees” , he told a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, apparently ruling out any tax hikes.

“But for the young people coming in, we have to be able to find a way to balance those programs or we’re going to end up in a whole lot of trouble,” he said. He didn’t specify which programs, but a pair of safety net programs that provide benefits to retirees include Social Security and Medicare.

Romney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many Republicans at one time supported restructuring Social Security and Medicare benefits to reduce the national debt. These programs make up about 41% of the government’s budget and are an ongoing target for conservatives seeking to rein in federal spending.

But President Donald Trump separated the party from that approach and instead campaigned to preserve Social Security and Medicare — a violation of longstanding GOP calls to cut those programs and limit federal spending. However, the debt ballooned by nearly $8 trillion under the Trump administration due to tax cuts and increased spending.

Calls to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits have diminished, but not completely disappeared. Last year, the House Republican Study Group released a symbolic budget that called for spending cuts across the board without raising taxes. The Medicare eligibility age would increase from 65 to 69. For Social Security, the retirement age would also increase to 69 by 2030, instead of remaining at 67 from 2022.

Experts predict that Social Security will not be able to pay full benefits from 2034, when its trust fund runs out. The Medicare hospital trust fund will not be able to cover its financial obligations starting in 2026, years earlier. But there is little political appetite on either side of the aisle to address it.

“The president is not presenting a proposal that would reduce those benefits,” Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said during the hearing. “He’s not going to do that.”

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