Gary Johnson on Social Security

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor


Change eligibility rules for Medicare; and age for Soc.Sec.

Q: What about raising the eligibility age for Medicare?

JOHNSON: Well, in the case of Social Security, there are some reforms to Social Security and that starts with raising the retirement age, something that neither party is talking about. Neither Trump or Clinton are talking about reforming the entitlements that happen--

Q: Wait, so you raise the Social Security retirement age?

JOHNSON: I would, yes, I would make that proposal, yes.

Q: And what would you raise it to?

JOHNSON: Well, for starters, it needs to go up. What is the exact age? I mean this ends up to be, you know, very dollars and cents and very accounting oriented, but it seems to me that it should be at least 70 years old.

Q: And would you similarly raise the age of eligibility for Medicare?

JOHNSON: There is that, but there's also who is eligible for Medicare.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Raise retirement age to 75

Q: Do you have a plan for entitlements?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. There are reforms to Social Security that need to take place. One would be raising the retirement age.

Q: To 75, you've suggested. Do you think you could get that done?

JOHNSON: I'm not giving a number here. This is something that Congress is going to have to come up with. Let's remember that when Social Security was adopted, 55 was the average age of an American. And nobody was going to even live to collect it in the first place.

Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jun 22, 2016

Raise the retirement age to 70 or 72

One last issue that needs a dose of reality is our country's approach to Social Security and other entitlement programs. I've been on the record about this problem for years. As ABC News noted in 2010:

"Citing a story in USA Today which reported that a rash of retirements in 2009 is pushing Social Security to the brink, Johnson said the retirement age needs to be raised perhaps to 70 or 72. "This is the reality, we're broke," said Johnson. "We're broke."

That's STILL the reality.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 76 , Aug 1, 2012

A portion of Social Security ought to be privatized

Social Security really needs to be reformed. Medicaid probably needs to be capped when it comes to the states. Medicare, there needs to be some sort of means testing.

The [Social Security] retirement age needs to be raised. A portion of Social Security ought to be privatized, if not all. And there probably needs to be some means testing. It's a Ponzi scheme that's not sustainable.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.107 , Aug 1, 2012

Replace the payroll tax with FairTax

We need to get rid of payroll taxes. Look at it from the perspective of employers for a moment. When they want to hire someone, it costs more than just the wage they're paying. They have to pay payroll taxes, including for Social Security and Medicare. That cost is about 10% of the wages they pay an employee. Remove that burden, and employers will be able to hire 10% more people. With an unemployment rate of 10%, why wouldn't we jump at this chance? The Fair-tax replaces employment and payroll taxes.
Source: Gary Johnson, "America moving again" in The Washington Times , Feb 2, 2012

Raise the retirement age; plus means testing

Q: You told the Wall Street Journal last year that you support means testing for Social Security, for which you said you would raise the eligibility age.

A: I would cut Social Security by raising the retirement age and have common sense means testing that's fair. I would scrap the entire federal tax system and replace it with the FairTax--a one-time consumption tax, with no more Medicare and unemployment payroll deductions--so we'd replace all federal taxes, abolishing the IRS.

Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog , Aug 21, 2011

Reform all entitlements, including Social Security

Q: You all support balancing the budget! But what entitlements would you go after?

Johnson: Medicaid and Medicare and reforming Social Security.

Bachmann: Obamacare, the largest entitlement and spending program in our country's history.

Gingrich: Also, fraud in Medicaid and Medicare are rampant. We should stop paying the crooks.

Cain: I would focus on major entitlement reform. This would focus on programs similar to Social Security.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Open to personal accounts for Social Security

Governor Johnson's website lists some major entitlement reform proposals, including to fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation.

Governor Johnson has also said that he would be open to personal accounts for Social Security, as well as means testing the program.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson , Jul 21, 2011

Change escalator from wage-based to inflation-based

    We must act now to:
  1. Balance the Budget. The math is simple: Federal spending must be cut not by millions or billions, but by trillions. And it must be done today. It's time to:
    • Reassess the role of the federal government and identify responsibilities that can be met more efficiently by the private sector.
  2. Enact Responsible Entitlement Reform: Most people in Washington seem to think that we can control spending and balance the budget without reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This is lunacy.
    • Fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation. It's time for Social Security to reflect today's realities without breaking trust with those soon to retire.
  3. Audit the Federal Reserve: We have a right to understand the process by which our currency is being created and managed.
    • Get the Federal Reserve out of the business of propping up the stock market through quantitative easing.
Source: Presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com, "Issues" , May 2, 2011

Maintain long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

With the first federal budget surplus in a generation and estimates of non-Social Security surpluses ranging from $750 billion to $1.9 trillion over the next decade, the issue is whether Congress and the President will agree to dedicate a portion of the projected surplus to tax cuts and, if so, what the impacts on states might be.

NGAís Position

NGA opposes reductions from current discretionary spending levels or changes that could risk the long-term solvency of the nationís Social Security and Medicare systems. NGA supports provisions to ensure reduced barriers to state and local capital finance through tax-exempt bonds and to ensure maximum flexibility in setting and maintaining state retirement plans and programs.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA16 on Aug 1, 2001

Other candidates on Social Security: Gary Johnson on other issues:
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Page last updated: Oct 29, 2016