Council Bluffs, Iowa CNN —
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is calling for changing the retirement age for Americans currently in their 20s and limiting Social Security and Medicare benefits for wealthier Americans, staking out a position on the politically controversial issue of entitlement reform that’s already been the subject of attacks from former President Donald Trump.
“What you would do is, for those in their 20s coming into the system, we would change the retirement age so that it matches life expectancy,” Haley said Thursday on Fox News.
When pressed for what specific new retirement age she supports, the former South Carolina governor said, “It’s the new ones coming in. It’s those in their 20s that are coming in. You’re coming to them and you’re saying, the game has changed. We’re going to do this completely differently.”
Haley had first proposed altering the retirement age for “young people” at a town hall in Iowa Wednesday, outlining several changes to entitlement programs. Haley’s campaign, however, did not respond when CNN asked what she would set as the retirement age.
While calling for changes to salvage the programs that she argued were headed for bankruptcy, Haley said older Americans should not see any cuts to their benefits.
“It is unrealistic to say you’re not going to touch entitlements. The thing is you don’t have to touch it for seniors and anybody near retirement. You’re talking about the new generation, like my kids coming up,” Haley said Thursday.
Haley’s comments come as President Joe Biden attacks Republicans for wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare, and Trump pressures Republicans to support the programs. Trump recently released a video saying Republicans should never vote to cut “a single penny” from those programs, even though his administration’s budget proposals included cuts to such social programs.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend, Trump didn’t name any fellow Republicans but alleged some members of his party “want to raise the minimum age of Social Security to 70, 75 or even 80 in some cases” and “are out to cut Medicare to a level that it will no longer be recognizable.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential rival for the GOP 2024 nomination, recently distanced himself from his past support for privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age. Former Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC last month that Social Security and Medicare need to be “on the table” in dealing with US national debt, while Haley has previously said that “we do have to address entitlements” for future beneficiaries.
Haley on Wednesday also called for expanding packages for Medicare Advantage plans, which are run by private health care insurers, in order to increase competition.
The former South Carolina governor criticized a new proposal that is set to be part of Biden’s 2024 budget that would shore up a key Medicare trust fund by raising taxes on those earning more than $400,000 a year and by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for even more drugs. The proposal is expected to run into a wall in the Republican-controlled House.
“Joe Biden now is basically saying the only way to deal with entitlements is to raise taxes. He doesn’t care that it runs out in five or 10 years, he’s not going to be there anymore,” Haley said.
This story has been updated with additional information Thursday.
Kate Sullivan reported from Washington, DC, and Jeff Zeleny reported from Iowa.