Evangelist Pat Robertson weighed in the issue of Social Security’s long-term feasibility on The 700 Club Monday, advocating for the mandatory retirement age to be raised past 65 years of age, citing extended lifespans and advances in medicine.
“Consequently [people] should be working longer and they should not begin retirement at age 65 or 66,” Robertson said. “We should be pushing that retirement age up to 70 or 72 and it’s not gonna hurt anybody because people really like to work. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a rocking chair rusting out. Who needs that?”
Robertson’s remarks came after a story by anchor Lee Webb citing a recent Associated Press-GfK poll in which 53 percent of respondents said they would raise taxes to ensure the system can continue, while 36 percent preferred to cut benefits.
Both the Center for American Progress (CAP) and The Fiscal Times have supported the Social Security Administration’s proposal to lift the current cap on payroll taxes limiting contributions to the system to an individual’s first $110,000 in income.
Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works, an advocacy group, told the Times the option should be discussed more.
“Most people don’t know it exists,” Kingson said. “Only 6 percent of Americans earn above the $110,100 limit. Most people are stunned when they learn that some people pay a lower rate on their Social Security contributions.”
Media Matters has collected some articles critical of Robertson’s life-expectancy argument dating back at least two years, including an argument by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, who called it overblown.
“The average life expectancy of someone who has reached age 65 was about 78 in 1940 and about 83 in 2005,” Hiltzik wrote in 2010. “In other words, a gain in the average length of retirement of about five years over six decades. And that’s for the whole population. For black males, there has been a gain of just over 2 1/2 years, to an average of 80 for those reaching age 65 in 2005.”
Last January Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Raw Story he was afraid the Obama administration might be willing to entertain the notion of cutting the program, based on responses he called noncommittal.
“What I’m hearing does not reassure me – that we have a president who is not prepared to defend the heart and soul of what the Democratic Party has been about since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Sanders said at the time. Obama subsequently backed away from such a plan that September.
Robertson’s remarks from Monday’s edition of The 700 Club were captured by Media Matters and can be seen below.