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BLITZER’S BLOG: Huntsman proposes gutsy changes to Social Security
September 16th, 2011
03:46 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Huntsman proposes gutsy changes to Social Security

By CNN's Wolf Blitzer

(CNN) – I have to give Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman some credit. He has the guts to suggest specific changes to the nation’s Social Security system – changes that are politically treacherous.

For a politician, whether Democratic or Republican, that’s always dangerous, given Social Security’s popularity, especially with older Americans who rely on it. And remember: older Americans vote in much higher percentages than younger Americans.

Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, offered three specific changes when I pressed him the other day.

He said he was open to changing the way annual Social Security increases are determined by changing the current cost-of-living formula. Practically speaking, he acknowledged, that means less money every month for recipients.

He also said that it would be a good idea to raise the retirement age since people are now living longer. “Maybe take it out to the 85th percentile of the average length of life,” he said.

Finally, he said that richer recipients don’t really need a Social Security check at all. They can afford to live without it even though they paid into the system their entire working lives. “They can afford to do otherwise,” he said.

Huntsman said those three changes “would be a good place to start this conversation.”

He noted that most politicians don’t have the courage to discuss Social Security reform even though it needs some serious fixing.

I must say that’s a pretty gutsy position.

Huntsman is trying to get some traction on the campaign trail. His poll numbers now are not impressive. I’ll be curious to see how his Social Security proposals play out.

RELATED: Tom Ridge endorses Huntsman

Post by:
Filed under: 2012 election • Jon Huntsman
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. mca

    I am so disheartened by some of these comments who seem to think this is just a fine and dandy idea. Even some say "Well, Social Security was never meant to be a retirement plan anyway"...HUH????Yes, it was...What the hell do you think we paid into all those years for? It was the same as buying a life insurance policy! Maybe next you will think its great when the Govt takes over all the life ins companies and then drains the accounts ,on other, non related things, and when you lose a loved one or you die yourself your loved ones can be told "Tough,we don't have the money to pay you on this policy because we used it for other things"....Wonder how happy and fine and dandy that will make you? You think the little guy getting their 800.00 dollars a month is what has drained this system? That's laughable....This system is in trouble because our wonderful Govt has stolen that money from the very ppl who now depend on it to live because you know it was a system they paid into all their lives with the promise it would be there when they retired!!!! Please get at least a bit basically educated. Find out who this govt owes the most money too. More than China and more than Japan. they have stolen from their own citizens and drained the SS fund!!They owe that fund more money that what they owe anything else. You think its GUTSY to allow them to continue stealing from their most vulnerable citizens? Wow, I am worried about you!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Dr. Bill

      You are right on but most of congress, the senate, the white house, and political contenders have suddenly developed a hearing problem. They pretend not to hear the elder americans who need social security. Let them hear our vote. The rich are still getting richer and the poor stay more and what is middle class now days? AND stop saying Social Security is an entitlement program IT IS NOT employers and employees paid into this program as away for employees to retire.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  2. TJeff1776

    85 ?????? Most of the oldies will be dead by that age. BUT I suppose thats the idea. Conservaives want to COMPLETELY do away with SS. Plain to see is one thing- the gulf between the rich and poor grow ever wider. The middle class is now GONE with tha wind. Medical cost mostly wiped them out. Those classified "poor" has gone from bad to worse- and headed for even worser. Our Congressmen sell us out daily to the highest bidders. If ya
    offer them $$$$$$, they will vote your way- the Repubs are WORSE than the Demos, but NOT by a hellava lot.

    September 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • mca

      You're right. They do want people to work now until they fall dead. Life seems hardly worth living anymore if there isn't a retirement time to look forward to. Keep in mind the same assholes wanting this are the very ones who work a few months a year and get a big salary that never ends even when THEY retire. If Americans don't start standing up for our rights and vote out every person who is currently in office, to send the message, that we aren't putting up with this any longer, we are going to be in big trouble. But, I know for sure I won't be voting for this guy!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Finley

      I think you misunderstand what 85th percentile means. if the average life expectancy is 78, he would propose starting social security when you're 85% of the way to average life expectancy, or in this case a little over 66 years old. The point is that people live longer than they used to but start collecting money at the same time, and therefore get payments for longer and put pressure on the system.

      October 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Ron B

    I am always impressed by rich people telling how the poor can get along with less and less...... Have any of these people ever worried if they will be able to pay the gas bill or pay for medications???? Retire later?????? Maybe if these politicians actually tried working in a factory or retail store they might not think it's a great idea to have old people work until they drop dead....

    September 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  4. Sharon Powell

    The argument that the wealthiest pay most of the taxes should include that the top 20% of Americans have 93% of the wealth. I am having a hard time sharing the remaining 7% with 80% of the rest of Americans.

    September 19, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  5. Sande

    Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme but WELFARE is a ZOMBIE scheme.

    September 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Ramachandran

    Why is it the media(people like Wolf Blitzer) dont point out the fallacy when politicians call Social Security an entitlement prgram when in actuality it is an insurance program designed to help disabled, injured and elderly through a contributory program for and by the people. Politicians took out the money from the SS fund and spent it from the General funds and call the program a failure or broke!!. If only the average man knows why the money in the fund is low now, they would vote every congressman and senator out of office for abusing the ss fund.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  7. steven harnack

    If you don't think that cost of living increases are needed for those on a fixed income you don't know reality. The age at which you receive Social Security shouldn't have anything to do with how long you will live but on when those who work for subsistence wages are deemed no longer employable by the job market. How are you to hold out until age 70 when no one will hire you after age 60? Thirdly, yes, those who have sufficient retirement funds don't need a SS check as long as there are safeguards in place for those who may lose those funds. One thing that should be done is to deduct SS from all earnings, not just a certain amount. Overall rates could possibly be lowered then.

    September 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  8. Ed Peters

    He misses the easiest things to do.. First: put all politicians into the program (Federal, State and Local), that goes for Medicare also! Second: alter the pay-in to Social Security (referring to the max limit of $106,000.00),

    September 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  9. Nancy Watson

    It is not gutsy to talk about reducing benefits to politically less powerful people such as the aged,blind, and disabled. It would be gutsy to talk about raising the taxes of the rich and powerful.

    September 18, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  10. Tony V.

    Sorry. Should have stated, "Hear, hear". That silly high school education of mine getting in the way again.

    September 18, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  11. Tony V.

    Here, here. Reasonable man, Governor Huntsman, with reasonable ideas and direction for the country. Executive experience as Governor of Utah. Foreign policy/relations experience serving as our ambassador to China. Wish he could gain a bit more traction on the Republican side, though its still early. I voted McCain in 2008. If anyone BUT Huntsman gets the Republican nomination I will definitely flip the lever for an Obama 2nd term.

    September 18, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  12. cthorn

    Why doesn't he take a cut in pay and raise his retirement age?

    September 18, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  13. Mike

    Dude, I'm a dyed in the wool liberal, but if I had to vote for a Republican at gunpoint (Tea Partiers take note), it would definitely be Huntsman. He's the only GOP'er who is not a nut-case. He even makes sense a lot of the time, and is capable of debating without trying to stoke fear, ignore science, or play on hot button social issues.

    September 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler

    Any American who cannot understand the math which requires benefit cuts sooner or later to trim the unsustainable growth of SS payments is unworthy of receiving any of them. The "Card Carrying Old Folks" lobby AARP is run by not-so-old folks who clearly understand the math, and even they admit that someone's got to take a hit sometime. So let's do it and means-test those who don't really need it.

    September 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  15. skarphace

    Huntsman can afford to take the risk of alienating voters. He knows he is at best looking at a VP slot. He is aware that if the Republicans decide to vote for a moderate rather than a Teavangelist, it will most likely be Romney.

    He is sending a signal to the other candidates that he is willing to tackle the issue of Social Security as VP and therefore take some of this heat away from his boss. This is exactly what Bachmann should be doing as well, instead of attacking the front runners and alienating herself from them.

    September 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    The problem with ANY Republican proposal is the rich get their loopholes before the ink is even dry. In the end, the middle class will give, the rich will get. The Republican way.

    September 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  17. Marty Weixel

    Jon Huntsman apparently thinks he is 'courageous' to suggest changes to Social Security that would not be popular. His choices seem to put the burden on the recipients, offering less money per month or extend the age limit. One choice is simple.....raise the cap from the current $106,000 to a higher bracket, like $250,000 or, better yet, to the entire sum of wages. It's much less painful, would be simple and fast to implement, and would secure the program forever.

    September 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  18. Bill in Florida

    Jon Huntsman can afford to make politically-dangerous statements because nobody is listening to him.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  19. RK

    Bravo. I'm a Democrat but here's at least one politician willing to talk frankly about this without saying that we need to scrap social security or do nothing about it. If only Congress were like this.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  20. Grant

    I have argued many times that Social Security was meant to be an INSURANCE program to protect the widow, widowers, disabled and elderly from proverty. It was designed to be a retirment program for those who are able to live above proverty without receiving the SSI benefits. It is time to return to the central purpose of SSI and those who are financial secure should not be receiving any benefits. To think that SSI taxes paid in was toward some sort of investment is being naive. I also think it may be helpful to simply merge the SSI program into the General Non-Discretionary Fund. As for Medicare and Medicaid, conversion to true universal health insurance will eliminate health care costs from the business payroll, lower the cost of health care and lift the quality of health care that the US presently ranks 37 out of the top 50 countries. I wish politician would debate this issue from academic facts than emotional rhetoric.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  21. Justinstl

    do away with capitalism the way its done now FREE Market iis what has ruined our economy. There needs to be a cap on the amount of profit anyone can make....somewhere around 18%. most Americans already sacrifice its the rich that need to share the sacrifice.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Heng

      When i finaly serttad to realize what blogging was realy about I was embarrassed as to how narrow minded I was towards them in the beginning.I honestly feel that 100% of everyone should create a personal blog the things it teaches you are incredible. Whether it be a wieght loss, arthritis, photography or IM blog just start one that you are passionate about.

      November 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  22. Lancer

    I wish the media and more people would start listening to this guy. He is by far the most mentally balanced Republican running.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  23. Justinstl

    That crazy Huntsman and all the other republicans are nuts! He said that there needs to be a shared sacrifice! Yes there does The average American sacrifices enough! The Rich need to start sacrificing ...They are the ones that need to "share".
    You see... government wants to make the people think that it is possible to fix the mess we are in . It is NOT possible to fix this mess if we continue to have a capitalistic economy withour profit caps! The only way to fix this is to de-valuize the dollar and start over! Take the money and the ability of the rich to get richer. No one needs to be wealthy at the expense of others and the poor. There will never be a way to create good jobs or have everyone have the opportunity to prosper untill we do away with the way we do business all together. Rich people make too much money...and think that they have the right to continue to make more. There should be a profit cap on the amount of money anyone can make FREE MARKET is the downfall of our economy! Free market was great in the growth of our nation but greed took over and ruiined it all ...There is no way to fix itat all the pot has boiled dry ...there is no way out of this mess unless we restructure our whole way of business and the whole money system. Why are they trying to fix what can not be fixed unless we start over and make the system work for everyone...not just the rich man . If iit were my world rich people would not be allowed to make any more money after they reach 5 million dollars in wealth unless everyone else had at least 1 million in wealth. The economic system we use was broken from the beginning has just taken until now for the "pot to boil dry" It is the fault of the greedy man .....Death to the Rich! no seriously there is no way to fix this mess if we continue to run a caputalistic economy with a FREE MARKET unless they put a flat 18% profit cap on everything. If we continue to run our country this way the American people WILL uprise against the government and the big business men.

    September 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  24. Joaquin Johnson

    I think that our Nation should cut the costs that are the result of our generous gifts to illegal immigrents before we cut benefits to those who receive benefits now. After all we did pay into the system, thank. Good progran.

    September 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  25. DoNotWorry

    Huntsman needs to focus on returning $2.67 TRILLION to Social Security, stolen by his compatriots for two wars and to subsidize corporations and the wealthy. Anything else is stealing from granny to support the wealthy and corporations who are outsourcing jobs. Kiss my grits.

    September 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  26. lou

    We give billions away to countries that stood in the street and cheered as the planes struck the twin towers and killed our citizens. This is OUR TAX money! FIND A WAY to use OUIR OWN money on our own seniors. It's time our citizens become top priority over countries who don't even like us. If this doesn't happen, we need to revolt, people.

    September 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  27. Colowest

    1. Social Security is not a problem now and won't be for decades. It has a surplus in the trillions of dollars.

    2. It could be "saved" quite easily, in a way that would hurt almost nobody, by doing two things: (a) eliminate the cap, and (b) apply FICA to ALL income, not just salaries and wages.

    Taking the two steps in #2 would almost certainly allow a big cut in the rate, as well as restoration of the old COLA formula, AND allow a REDUCTION in retirement age to 62, which in turn would make a big in temporary dent in unemployment.

    September 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  28. gavin

    Wow! What a waist of a good candidate to dogmatic, hyper partisan politics. Maybe Huntsman should run as an independent?

    September 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  29. Roba00001

    Why can't this candidate get any traction? He has given many main street answers to main street issues.

    September 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  30. GreenDream

    Social Security seems to be working fine for AMERICANS, they want it to continue. The only ones who want to change it are the REPUBLICANS in Congress........SO I SAY LET'S CHANGE THE REPUBLICANS, boot them out of Congress!

    Social Security is fully funded until 2036, AND just lift the cap on Social Security so those making over 100k pay the same percent as those making under 100k, and it's funded for years, and years, and years!

    Social Securtiy is not the problem........the PROBLEM IS THE REPUBLICANS WORKING AGAINST AMERICANS and working for PRIVATE CORPORATIONS! that needs to change in the next election!

    September 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  31. Trudy Harteg

    what more you Republican want to take away from Seniors ?you want us the Elderly to die .so there be more Money for the Rich
    your Party is so Hate full an you do not care but any one ,only the Rich an Power full .i have lost all hope .an i do not trust any one on the Right

    September 17, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  32. Patti

    I am a liberal Democrat, age 55, and I can support these changes. However, Governor Huntsman left out one more very important recommendation: Eliminate the salary cap on SS taxes. Why should the less fortunate pay SS tax on their entire salaries while the well-to-do only pay SS tax on a portion (minuscule, for some) their salaries?

    September 17, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  33. Sam

    Jon Huntsman is one GOPer, if elected, I feel like I don't have to leave the country. However, in the crazy world of GOP crop of politicians, moderates like him probably won't survive much to my chagrin.

    September 17, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  34. KatR

    It's typical that the GOP response to the SS problem is to take steps that will lead to the end of a program that 87% of Americans support. Lower the amount of their checks and deny checks to others simply because they are rich and don't need it. The best way to fix the SS issue AND keep it solvent for future generations is to raise the payroll income cap. The current figure is not reasonable given the amount of wages many Americans earn.

    September 17, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  35. gary platt

    All politicans do is talk. Pass a one page bill to eliminate the cap of paying into social security and the problem is solved.
    It would also help for the government to pay back the trillions it borrowed (replacing money with I.O.U.'s) and keep their hands off of this fund.

    September 17, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  36. Carpe Diem

    Huntsman is the ONLY candidate that is moderate enough to get Republican, Democrat, and Independent votes all at the same time. He is also the ONLY candidate that the extremes from both sides would never vote for.
    He is incredibly intelligent and has been successful in both business and politics, and he has an amazing resume with his experience in international affairs. I would vote for this guy in a second because of these qualifications and the fact that he isn't beholden to extremes that dominate our political sides today. He simply speaks common sense and will suffer in polls because of it.
    It is unfortunate that our political system is so dominated by the extremes of both parties because it makes getting through the primaries practically impossible for someone like Huntsman.

    September 17, 2011 at 2:19 am |
  37. Paganguy

    What is the problem? Social Security has over two trillion in the trustfund that has been used by Johnson and Bush to finance their crazy wars. Now Obama is weakening Social Cecurity by reducing the payroll tax contributions to it. Thanks to Bernanke, this money is now eaning less than 1% interest.
    It is Medicare you have to fix. Why are we paying for $150K triple bypass for an 80 year old guy who will die a year later for some other reason. Adopt the Oregon plan; evaluate the cost / benefit.

    September 17, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • G

      Okay...what if you are 40 and need a triple bypass...can you guarantee that you will live long enough to make it worth it? Can anyone? How could you know when the 80 year old would die – he might live another 15 years or so. No one can make a promise on how long they wiil live. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow.

      October 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  38. Terry Conklin

    I agree that Huntsman has shown he is willing to make the hard decisions we need. I am retired and from my perspective I think seniors are sometimes driven by their own self interests rather than the good of the country. SS was not well thought out and needs urgent changes to make it sustainable. It should not replace personal responsibility for retirement savings and Medicare should be decoupled so everyone can use Health Savings Accounts throughout their lives. Savings should be strongly encouraged in America.

    September 17, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  39. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Those Americans who are considered well off enough to forgo the Social Security they paid into, are not the same Rich Americans the Republicans don't want to tax. They are your regular moms and pops who will be screwed out of the money the US government took away from them, while the rich a free from taxes and get social security. After all the Repuglicans have to pander to the rich because most of them have gotten rich from supporting the rich.

    September 17, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  40. john f

    As a loyal democrat, Huntsman is really the only Republican that I could possibly see myself voting for. The man has some good ideas and sadly appears to have no chance of getting the Repub nomination.

    September 17, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  41. jeb

    Huntsman at least has some reasonable ideas to start the dialog. Perry doesn't have a clue and Romney flip-flops so much you can't trust where he'll be at any given moment.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  42. Jon Davis

    I am not a Republican, nor am I a teapartyer, but of all the actors on the stage, he is the only one who isn't crazy. I could see my way to vote for him.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  43. Dan in Albuquerque

    No question that Huntsman is the most intelligent of the GOP candidates, but being a Democrat, I would not vote for him against Obama. He is still GOP on other issues I do not agree with at all. However, his Social Security idea is a start and mgiht be worth discussing with the people across the aislem if anyone is willing to take the risk to be the first one. I am on Social Security and we have not had a raise in the past 2 years, so I would be interested in the formula. I certainly can't live on any less money each month, but if the cost of living is static, I would be willing to forego a raise every now and then. , But with no change in the obstructionism of the rest of the GOP, it is proably useless to discuss it as a single issue until compromise on spending cuts AND revnue are included.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  44. Aaron

    It probably won't hurt him since so many oldsters have went off the deep end, supporting the teabaggers who view social security receipients as freeloaders.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  45. Jim Honolulu

    All they need to do is raise the cap on deductions. Simple, fixed. There is no crisis.

    September 17, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  46. Vigla

    Not well, unless the cap on payroll taxes is raised, no deal.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  47. polite centrist

    He seems to be the only Republican who could actually attract Centrists!
    I would like to see him mount a Third-Party campaign after the Hard Right chase off the 'RINO'.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  48. Catca

    I agree that a slight increase in the retirement for future generations as well as means testing may be in order. Social security is not the ponzi scheme Gov. Perry makes it out to be, but rather a system that only needs small changes to remain solvent. Having said that, while people may be living longer, you also have a lot of people living a long time with dementia and other disabilities in their golden years and can't keep working. While you can tweak the retirement age slighter higher, I don't think you can go much higher because you need to be cognizant of people's actual ability to work. Tying it to a percentage of average lifespan seems like a bad methodology. I also think changes in the cost of living index are not a good idea. Seniors haven't had increases in the cost of living index for years now and probably won't for at least a few more years. To take stagnant income and reduce it would be disastrous for seniors.

    September 16, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  49. KB

    The only serious candidate for President. everybody else is just fluff, and ideological right-wingers. Huntsman is serious about fixing the economy, and stabilizing the debt problem. He has a a rock solid record as governor of Utah, and as a 3-time ambassador. He's the man America needs.

    HUNTSMAN 2012

    September 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  50. Bob F

    What? An actual sensible attempt at fixing a problem? He doesn't stand a chance.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  51. Joe

    If Huntsman continues to insist on making sense and injecting reason into the conversation, he will never get the Republican nomination.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  52. moderatejoe

    Governor Huntsman is the only candidate who has been willing to discuss the issues while the others play politics. Huntsman had the first Job/Economic Plan and its on his website. He openly points out the foolishness of some of the candidates positions that make them unelectable because independents will decide, just like they did in 2008. Now he's offering real SS reform.

    This country needs a real pragmatic to govern from the right of center. Huntsman is a fiscal conservative look at his two terms as Utah governor, but he's a social moderate; for civil unions (not marriage because he's a traditionalist but it's all about rights) and he is strongly pro-life.

    So he's a successful businessman, very successful governor and a US Ambassador to China who also speaksfluent mandarin. He can negotiate with our Chinese bankers in their own language and he's the real deal.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  53. Larry L

    I didn't notice a mention of removing the cap on income and requiring people to pay Social Security taxes on all of their income and not just the first $106,000. This would go a very long way in solving the problem.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  54. Philojazz

    I never thought I would be saying this, but if, and that is a very big "if", Mr Huntsman is the Republican nominee for President, I will seriously consider voting for him. This is coming from a voter who has never voted for a Republican for, well, let's just say, for anything. Mr Huntsman has brains, courage, and an ability to actually make sense when he speaks. This makes him stand far above the current crowd of all those running for President. Now, all this is most likely moot, as there is, I fear, no way in hell that Mr Huntsman will be the Republican nominee, for the reasons listed above. Still, it's nice to dream, isn't it?

    September 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  55. Matt

    As a 20-something liberal I am 100% for Obama if the GOP nomination is anyone else besides Huntsman in which case I'd say I'd then only be about 60/40 for Obama and would give Huntsman a genuine chance because he's the only one of the GOP candidates who seems honestly moderate and doesn't say stupid, untrue things–actually memorably and bravely (only for a republican) saying to his fellow nominees to stop running away from science. And being an ambassador to China helps since they're going to be one of the biggest economic rivals in the coming decades so someone who is familiar with them and understands them would be a plus.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  56. w l jones

    well well a governor spend four years in that office and received retirement the rest of theirs life. Give the senior ears a break!

    September 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  57. Gary Newman

    Finally someone not afraid to propose real solutions to a problem. These three solutions have been talked about by thousands of people who have common sense for years. But until now we have never had a politician from either side with the guts to say it. Making it solvent is far better than calling it a ponzi scheme and cheating the unrich in our country out of a chance of any retirement at all.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  58. jmyer

    There hasn't been a cost of living increase in at least the last three years. Medicare Advantage keeps increasing premiums, cost of co-pays, increase in cost of drugs every year – as one on Social Security as my primary income, it doesn't leave much to live on. If people are given the choice to pay in to the system, or put that money away privately, that would be a disaster. I don't think Increasing the age for Social Security would work because right now employers get rid of "older" employees and want younger people, so they certainly wouldn't be interested in keeping employees who are even older. Somehow the employers know how to get the older employees out – I know!

    What about increasing the income level where Social Security is taken out of a paycheck? That would certainly bring in more money. I think the government needs to take the Social Security money they collect from us and put it is a safe savings account instead of borrowing from it and using it for other things. That money should be exempt from that practice.
    I really like Huntsman and think he is the best of the bunch., I hope he can just hang in there while the rest destroy each other.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  59. Jeetu

    The changes proposed by this republican candidate are not new and have been proposed before. However, Congress has not accepted them. Increasing retirement age makes sense; however, it has to be gradual and people should be allowed to retire with somewhat decreased benfits.

    Reducing beenfits of retired folks by changing the formula is a gimmick and should not be allowed.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  60. MikeinMN

    The "gutsy" thing to propose is that the Social Security Trust Fund be put off limits to anything other than it's intended use! No more "borrowing" from it by Congress to pay for things that they don't have money to pay for!

    September 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Ruby

      The article is iedned both very well written and informative. However putting those suggestion and tips into practices requires lots of work and still whether it will be successful or not will be another problem. Thanks for the post Mr.Cow. It is very helpful sunduvans last blog post..

      October 13, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  61. jdoe

    This confirms it. Huntsman will never win the GOP nomination with his last proposal.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  62. neil bezaire

    I believe everyone should pay for social security without a cap of $108,800. Why should someone earning millions of dollars a year stop contributing after $108,800. Helping retired workers avoid pitiless poverty in their old age should be the nations goal and we all should contribute the full share.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  63. RNelson

    I agree completely. It's time for some new ideas and a bold person to push them forward. Nothing should be sacred in this economy, particularly SS, government pensions, welfare, and other "entitlement" situations that are rife with abuse and create a huge drag on the economy. Also, anyone who can speak Chinese and who understands the Chinese culture as Huntsman does, is well equipped for what is coming in the future. A great alternative to who we have in office now.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  64. SkyKing

    He's right.
    We need to raise the eligibility age. Probably not to 85th percentile, though. Unfortunately, even though we're living longer, we still become unable to function well enough to support ourselves. We lose our hearing and our sight, our thinking slows down, we are weaker, and physically inflexible. Unfortunately we llive longer, but in that condition. So maybe 70 or 72 is a practical maximum. Right now we can go from 65 to say 68 or 69.
    We need to raise the FICA tax. Not much, maybe a dollar or two per thousand of income. Hardly noticeable to employees or employers. Same with Medicare. The percentage of older people unable to support themselves is rising, it is just a fact we have to account for.
    Remember, Social Security is NOT retirement. If you want to retire, save your money. Social Security is not an investment, it was never intended to be. We don't pay in to get something out. It is a Program, in which a small amount is taken from the income of those able to work to provide a BASIC SAFETY NET for those who can't work. That includes not only aged, but also children without family support, physically and mentally disabled. It provides bare bones amounts for food and shelter and basic necessities. That's all.
    Raise the eligibility age a few years and increase the payroll deduction slightly, and the problem is solved. People will always whine, but the solution is actually pretty simple and painless. We just need a real leader. Surprise, this guy may be such a person. I'd like to hear more.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  65. PaulG

    Actually reserving some portion of the contributions working folks make in a "trust fund" instead of putting it in the general treasury would help...jus' sayin'...

    September 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  66. Pat

    Don't kid yourselves, folks......this guy is just another wingnut who believes in gravity.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  67. Leopold Snipzig

    My, my, how distracted we have become over the economy. Social Security did not cause this current economic collapse, as a matter of fact it's fully funded for the next twenty years and a it's an economic stabilizer of our current situation. An unregulated economic industry is what has caused this mess, how did social security get dragged
    into this ?
    From an investor who has become distrusful of wall street.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  68. Charles R Barbour

    Even though I would love to see the rich go without, it's unconstitutional to be taxed without benefit or representation.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  69. porterjac

    Social Security is not the problem, people drawing from Social Security before 62 are the problem. No one who is not a retiree should be able to draw benifits ever.

    September 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  70. JCQueipo

    I'm a Democrat, but If you pay into the system you should get something in return no matter how rich you are!!
    this guy is a liberal for sure, I like the way he think though, he also believes in science ( the only republican) . Now we should be taxing the rich mega more

    September 16, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  71. Alan

    The GOP have neither the courage to admit they got us into this mess nor the courage to admit they have no clue as to how to get us out. The political system is only as good as its citizens and it's clear we here in the US lack an educated public that has the ability to see beyond their own shortsighted selfish desires. The US is fast becoming a banana republic, an oligarchy where the ultra wealthy rule untouched and pay for whatever brand of politics suit their tastes....we have become a shameful nation; the wealthiest nation for decades yet we let people suffer with medical conditions easily treated, we watch year after year as more slip into poverty, we under-fund our schools, our social safety nets and our elderly programs to provide tax breaks for billionaires. we let the most profitable industries in the world pay no tax and give them billions in subsidies. And most sadly, we lack the will to change it.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  72. Independent Voter

    Huntsmann seems the most sensible and credible in terms of both domestic reform and foreign affairs. I would be proud to call him my president. I think if he can beat out the other GOP candidates, he will be a tough challenge to Obama.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  73. timsaxm

    Huntsman is the on Republican I can see voting for. He's got guts and he is not far right. I don't agree with the SS proposal. But at least he is putting something on the table. He also seems willing to listen and compromise..

    September 16, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  74. P

    I have to say that I'm a pretty liberal Democrat. Having said that, the more I read about Huntsman, the more I like about him. He seems more concerned with the issues at hand rather than grabbing the deadline right after the latest debate or in sparring with his fellow candidates. He seems level headed and well spoken and detailed and he has some pretty good ideas so far. I am undecided as to who I will vote for in 2012...but if it comes down to Obama and Hunstman, it's going to be a tough choice...or maybe, the easiest one of all.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
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