It was a moment of truth for a Texas Republican: Trying to outline how the Republican position for cutting government spending differs from that of President Barack Obama.
His approach? Trim "entitlement programs" -- otherwise known as Social Security spending.
On Hardball Monday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) argued that to balance the budget Congress needed to consider reducing Social Security spending for yet-to-be-retired beneficiaries. The idea isn't a new one, and there have long been concerns about deficits in the program as Baby Boomers retire. But it's sure to have other legislators running for the hills.
"You can get better health care and better retirement security if you go to a defined contribution plan. We had this debate in Social Security a few years ago," Hensarling said, referring to a plan in which there is no guaranteed level of future benefits.
"Are those under 55 ... gonna get the same deal as their parents? No, probably not," the congressman added.
Hensarling noted that he wasn't calling for benefits to be cut for those already receiving them or already over 55. And he wouldn't give a direct answer to a question from MSNBC host Chris Matthews: "You mean cut Social Security benefits as a way of balancing the budget."
Hensarling smiled but didn't answer either way.
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