Chris Christie's Hail Mary

Chris Christie recently unveiled a plan to overhaul Social Security. This is his Hail Mary to get back in the game of running for President. Though I applaud his decision to make entitlement reform a major portion of his platform, his proposal is merely another veiled tax increase on the wealthy.

There are two portions to his reform plan. The first is to raise the retirement age from 67 to 69 over a phased in length of time. That is not such a bad idea. It is the second portion, related to reducing and even eliminating entirely the ability for a taxpayer to receive Social Security, into which he has paid during his working career, that is particularly heinous.

Chris Christie’s proposal to reduce and eliminate Social Security benefits for wealthier people is just a capitulation to the Left. He advocates reducing benefits for retired persons if they earn more than $80,000 and calls for eliminating outright Social Security benefits for retirees who earn $200,000 or more a year. This is basically another massive tax increase on the wealthy disguised as entitlement reform.

For many upper income earners, their income tax rates are already over 50%, especially when local and state taxes are factored in. Yet when one calculates that income tax rate, not included in that amount is Social Security (though Social Security is a separate tax). As reference, for those who are self-employed, one pays 15.3% to Social Security, but if someone is employed, the employer pays 7.65% while the employee pays the other 7.65%. The reason why this tax is not considered in the tax rate calculation is because it is considered to be “retirement pay”, something paid into “the system”, based upon the “promise” that it will be returned as benefits at a point in the future.

But now Christie proposes to change the game in a nearly fraudulent way. Social Security taxes would still be collected from taxpayers, but for upper income earners, you won’t get your benefits back in entirety or even at all after a certain income level when you are of retirement age. That’s practically criminal. It’s raising taxes on the wealthy yet again, because the Social Security tax would still be collected over the years, but you don’t receive the promised benefits anymore past certain income levels during your retirement years. Looked at it another way, if you are successful, if you do well and are able to retire with a decent income stream, you are now punished for that success and lose the funds you faithfully paid in over the years because the government now deems you to have too much money. It is wealth confiscation to cover decades of mismanaged funds that now need massive reform to be solvent.

I think Chris Christie’s heart is in the right place, but he really hasn’t thought his plan through. It plays directly to the Left playbook on class warfare, implying that the wealthy need to “pay their fair share” by now forfeiting their Social Security funds past a certain income threshold in order to help pay for government fiduciary malfeasance. That concept is repugnant and Social Security reform needs a better plan than what Chris Christie has to offer.