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John Boehner is - partially - right

June 30, 2010 - Mike Maneval

Some recent comments by House Minority Leader John Boehner, a Republican congressman from southwestern Ohio, are under fire. Speaking to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Boehner said, "We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we're broke." And toward that end, Boehner said the U.S. should consider raising the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits.

To 70 years of age ... in 20 years. As the title of my post here suggests, I have some quibbles with this. As I noted in other posts within the last month, Social Security was never designed to handle the duration of time recipients now spend drawing the program's benefits. The age of eligibility, I again argue, should be indexed to average life expectancy and should rise as life expectancy rises. And there is no budgetary reasoning to justify waiting two decades to begin the practice.

But the larger quibble I have is with Boehner's reasoning for why the spending needs diverted. As the Tribune-Review's Salena Zito and Mike Wereschagin report, Boehner's position is that "ensuring there's enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country's entitlement system."

The war, I can only assume, refers either to the theatre of operations in Afghanistan specifically or our nation's efforts against global terrorism across the board - efforts or operations, either way, which date back nearly a decade now, to a time when Boehner's party controlled the White House and both bodies of congress. And to a time when adequate funding for the efforts should have been addressed, but generally wasn't. To suggest a change to the structure of Social Security 20 years in the future to finance a war that will then have started thirty years earlier is not responsible management, even though Boehner's underlying proposal - raising the age of eligibility - has much merit.


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