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Over the Capitol Hill gang

November 18, 2010 - Rob Weaver
Call them the Not Quite Over-the-Hill Gang: Current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 70. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second in command, is 71. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is 70. Harry Reid will be 71 when he returns as Senate Majority Leader in January. His counterpart on the other side of the aisle, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, is 68. "It's not a question of age, it's a question of mind," Hoyer told reporters. And if they don’t mind working at that age, that’s fine. But these legislators will be leaders of the Congress which could make significant changes to Social Security, changes which could include raising the retirement age. The leaders of the president’s deficit-reduction commission -- two men who essentially retired, by the way -- have proposed gradually increasing the full retirement age to 69 in about 2075, when the early retirement age would hit 64. Now, people can start drawing reduced retirement benefits from Social Security at age 62. Full benefits are available at age 66, although according to my last Social Security statement, I’ll have to wait until I’m two months shy of my 68th birthday to earn full benefits. That would be in 2027, so the proposed change indeed would be very gradual. I’d suggest the Senate and House leadership propose a less gradual increase. While that might cost them more than a few votes -- about one in five who voted this month were older than 65 -- the gang is old enough to ride off into the sunset ... with their Congressional pensions. On the other hand, baby boomers, who are joining the senior ranks daily, are concerned about the viability of Social Security. They might be willing to work an extra year or two, if that would preserve the benefits they’ve been planning to receive. As for me, I have something in common with the members of Congress mentioned above: I figure I’ll still be working when I’m in my 70s. That’s because the money I put into Social Security over the past three decades already has been spent. In the meantime, I’d better take care of myself. The future of Medicare isn’t in such great shape, either.


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