Posted: 9:26 pm Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Christie touches the third rail – Social Security 

By Jamie Dupree

Amid speculation in Republican circles about whether he’s even still thinking about running for President, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey used a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday to do something most politicians avoid, setting out details of a plan to shore up the finances of Social Security.

“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with the people of our country,” Christie said.

“I am not.”

Social Security has often been referred to as the ‘third rail’ of American politics, because no matter how good your intentions may be, “reform” of the program is often attacked in a way that doesn’t work to your political advantage.

Christie’s speech was part of several days of events in New Hampshire this week, a reminder to Republicans that the New Jersey Governor might have retreated from the front lines of the race for 2016 – but that he isn’t giving up the idea of running for the GOP nomination.

As for the details of his entitlement plan, here are some bullet points:

+ Raise the retirement age for Social Security to 69

+ Raise the early retirement age to 64

+ Use “Chained CPI” to limit yearly cost of living increases for benefits

+ Means test benefits for older workers, phasing out Social Security benefits for those making $200,000 a year in income

+ Ending payroll taxes for older workers

Here is a quick review by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“It is refreshing to see a possible candidate put forth specific ideas to fix the unsustainable finances of vital programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” said Christina Howerton of the group Fix the Debt.

It may be refreshing, but it usually isn’t politically beneficial.

Christie has decided to challenge that assumption – whether he is really running for President or not.

Is Chris Christie still gunning for 2016?

In recent months, Gov. Christie has taken a back seat to a number of other GOP players in the race for the White House; some on talk radio have already counted him out entirely.

But looking at his schedule this week and the entitlement plan that he unveiled, this smacks of someone who is most definitely going to run for President.

Christie’s Facebook page was alive with updates yesterday as the Governor spoke to students at St. Anselm’s College, stopped for lunch in Manchester, and visited some local businesses.

Detailed budgetary proposals, town hall meetings and classic campaign trail stops would seem to lead to one thing – a Chris Christie bid for the White House.

We’ll see what happens in the weeks ahead.

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