Retirement Age Divides Democrats
Updated: June 29, 8:10 p.m.
Social Security is supposed to be the third rail of politics, but Democrats are hoping that only Republicans get zapped.
Democratic political arms went into overdrive Tuesday to blast House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for saying that the retirement age should be increased to 70. He had been speaking to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“He announced that IF the GOP returned to the Majority, his plans would include raising the retirement age to 70!” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wrote in a breathless fundraising e-mail.
The only problem? The No. 2 House Democrat, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), said last week that Congress should consider a higher retirement age.
A Democratic leadership aide saw no contradiction with the DCCC’s letter blasting Boehner, saying Hoyer merely floated the retirement age idea as an option to consider, rather than an explicit endorsement. “He’s not the champion of raising the retirement age,” the aide said. “If the DCCC or individuals are against that, then fine.”
Representatives for the DCCC said the two statements are different because Boehner’s comments came in the context of paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Katie Grant, a spokeswoman for Hoyer, added, “Hoyer is not proposing raising the Social Security retirement age to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It’s absurd.”
But Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that the minority leader also did not mention the retirement age in the context of paying for the wars and that they were two different discussions.
Republicans called Democrats out for a double standard. “It was a classic, ready, fire, aim’ moment,” as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and the Democratic National Committee “all criticized a proposal offered by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer,” Steel said.