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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. Dryden

    I paid life insurance premiums all my life, never collected. No complaints there, either.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  2. DW

    As a nation, it is high time that we face some hard truths. One is that the social security system cannot continue as is indefinitely. The sooner we realize this and make the necessary tough changes to the system like those offered by Mr. Huntsman, the more likely social security will be around for younger generations of Americans.

    I find it problematic that the very generations of people that are largely responsible for running up large deficits thus substantially increasing the national debt, are fiercely opposed to any proposal that alters their benefits for the greater good of this nation's fiscal health and the younger generations.

    Baby Boomers may come to regret their hard stance when large numbers of younger generations leave the U.S. for better opportunities overseas, due to oppressive tax burdens and high unemployment State-side. This is already happening in Portugal, Italy, and other fledgling European economies. Should that occur, there will not be enough workers per retiree to support the older generations.

    Anyhoo, if Huntsman can't win the Republican nomination, go independent. You've got my vote.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  3. theteachingdoc

    Wow! Finally a candidate with some guts to make some bold but true statements about how we can shore up SS! I really can't understand why this guy isn't a front-runner among the GOP given he's one of the more rational candidates!

    September 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  4. jnpa

    I think not! Not until Congress totally revamps their salary, pension and benefits.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  5. Sandy

    Bye bye Huntsman. Raising the retirement age is fine for people like legislators because they have easy jobs, but us regular folk don't all have easy jobs that we can do in our 70's and companies are constantly pushing the elders out for younger employees. Who is going to employ all these 68-70 year olds? And then giving them less money to boot? Like I said, bye bye Hiuntsman!

    September 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  6. Geezer

    People are living longer – but – their health problems are not being deferred. Medical technology is keeping us alive longer but does not delay the age at which these problems begin. The retirement age in China currently is 60 for men and 50 for female workers – shouldn't we also be moving ours backwards instead of forward? If we are going to collect Social Security longer, then we must put more money into it during our working years: raise the 6.5% contribution and the cap on the income being taxed to do it. This issue doesn't affect Huntsman personally or any of the other wealthy contenders for the Presidency. They just don't give a damn about the majority needs of the rest of this country.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  7. NoTags

    Suppose a person pays into SS for 50 years and are nearing retirement age when they inherit a large amount of money. Should they be denied what they paid into for 50 years just because they become wealthy near the end of their life?

    All these wealthy politicians don't care about SS since they will never have to live of the small amount a person gets each month. Here's my proposal for Huntsman. Go back to China and stay.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  8. CaliforniaBC

    Yep that's gutsy.... I do agree with raising the retirement age. It just makes sense given we're all living longer.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Independent Joe

    The more I hear from Huntsman the more impressive he becomes. We don't need radical zealots, from either side of the political spectrum. Huntsman comes across as pragmatic, intelligent, and experienced as a governor and a diplomat. Certainly better credentialed than most of those running. Too bad primaries tend to swing to the outer fringes to elect candidates.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  10. Laura Akers

    Wow! I actually agree with two of the three proposals he makes (not for changing the cost-of-living thing). Now if he'd just lift the income cap on SS taxes to $250,000 or so, we'd have the problem fixed pretty much permanently.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  11. J Mann

    Jeez, I sorta liked this guy until I read this. So, even though I paid into it my whole working life, I can "do otherwise"? Payments can be cut? Sure, if you wanna give seniors coupons for the extra dog food they will be eating. Hey, you know what, just give me back the money I put into SS, along with simple interest for 45 + years, and I will shut up. Huntsman is done. Next?

    September 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  12. glm

    Hang in there Jon. You've got what it takes. It's a crime that we continure to subsidize our elderly at the expense of our children, their education, young families, and ulitmatley, our country's future. I am 55 yrs. old and think it is a disgrace that our young people have to take out huge loans to go to college. Loans that they wil spend much of the rest of their life paying back. The lack of concern for affordable, top notch education for our youth frightens me more than anthing.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  13. Everything in Moderation

    Huntsman is the ONLY and I repeat that ONLY chance the Republican party has at swaying the average American. He has actually served this country internationally with one of our most important relationships. He represents a moderate viewpoint in direct opposition to the extremities of the modern Republican party. The Amurica! candidate won't work anymore. If the American people decide we need a Republican as president, we need a measured and tactful leader to pull us out of this mess.

    September 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  14. fabrice new york

    The key of this article is to combine with the other article about a proposal to increase the age of retirement for congress members
    Right now they can retire at 50 yo

    Also they collect a nice pension while some already retiree never pay a dime towards it...

    Also what the article does not mention are the position of chairman on various boards usually offered by big corporatIon...

    If congress want to touch social security they should first look at their own situation..

    September 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  15. andrew douglas

    Huntsman should run as an independent. At the very least his proposals would play out more in the general election and prevent either side from entrenching themselves in their partisan ideologies.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  16. Jim

    “Maybe take it out to the 85th percentile of the average length of life,” he said...

    Whoa, math from a Republican? I might like this guy...

    September 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  17. Dale

    I would seriously consider voting for Huntsman not just because of the SS stance but because of some others. I do have my disagreements with him, but it won't matter. He can't get the nomination over Perry or Romney.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  18. Rev. B

    The wealthy and uber-wealthy want both more tax cuts AND to keep their to-them measly Social Security checks. As if they don't have enough already! Be fun to watch them knocking their knuckles bare on Heaven's door with the No-Vacancy-for-the-Tight-Wealthy sign on in plain sight. Though Hell's door is wide open and waiting for them.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  19. Outsider

    Guess good proposals don't attract comments. I think Huntsman is the only one with concrete proposals and pragmatic ideas .Unfortunate that US citizens live in the fantasy world than reality of the situation.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Rick

    Huntsman is the ONLY Republican in the field that I would consider voting for. He has a brain and does not pander to the far Christian right. You know... the creationists. He is not afraid to give science it's due. That alone speaks volumes. It tells me he is his own man and is interested in putting his country first. I am a hard core liberal on social issues and this is a conservative I could get behind.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  21. augustwashington

    This is the only Republican candidate I would even consider voting for.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  22. manny oliver

    I like remain Mr Huntsmen that the social security citizen have not had a cost living increase in a long time, congress vote itself raise and do nothing for it, but senior have paid for their social security it.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  23. Travis

    I like this guy. Too bad he'll never get elected. Heck, he won't even get the GOP nomination. One half of the party is dominated by irrational and hateful people who would see this country go down the toilet if it meant making Obama look bad, and the other half is controlled by established, business-as-usual career politicians who will never make any kind of positive changes. Huntsman isn't angry enough for the Tea Party, nor does he kowtow the party line, so he'll never get his party's nomination. I voted for Obama three years ago, but if by some miracle Huntsman were to run against him, I would have no problem calling myself a Republican. Alas, it's all wishful thinking.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  24. tony

    unfortunate Huntsman can't get rolling. the most common sensical and moderate of the candidates. much the centrist. unfortunately for the future of our country, the noisy somewhat extremists have the edge.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  25. Commeric

    Mr. Huntsman made three very good proposals, and I respect him for having the courage to speak plainly. This is a topic we need to discuss as a nation, and we need to do it in a rational, clear-headed way. I am approaching retirement age, and I would categorize myself as slightly left of center; I tip my hat to Mr. Huntsman for his comments.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  26. John

    I like it. I agree. Look at people's assests.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  27. David D.

    Great ideas. The big ones are reducing the annual cost of living adjustment (progressively if possible), raising the retirement age, removing the cap on the payroll tax (currently the first $106,800 in income is taxed but not above that for Social Security), means testing, etc. The CBO did a comprehensive report on the program about a year ago called "Social Security Policy Options" I think that indicated exactly how much of the 1.3% GDP gap is closed by about two dozen alternatives.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  28. 776brock

    Forget it.Everybody working on the books pays into it.If you want to fix it,1) stop borrowing from it 2) take out more money which is less painful than what you propose

    September 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  29. RickInVA

    They play well with me! I am 45 and agree with all of those ideas. Lets implement them now!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  30. ruby gumshoe

    I'm a Democrat, 61 years old and making ~$40K/yr. and, still, I can support these three changes. I just wish the other politicians had enough hair on their asses to propose something like this. Go Huntsman!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  31. Benjamin

    Such proposals are certainly easier to take seriously than demands to adapt the Chilean model.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  32. Mr. Reasonable

    That's why he can't win. He's practical.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  33. Carlos Enrique Quezo aka Chuck E. Cheese

    Wolf, it is easier to propose "gutsy" changes to SS when you're not in office. Of course, anyone can come in suggest radical new ideas, the problem is, these ideas are difficult to implement because, as you suggest "older Americans vote in much higher percentages than younger Americans."

    September 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  34. Gordon

    Huntsman is the most logical of the GOP. Those that are wealthy that don't need the social security check should at least get Medicare. I know that people put into social security but when you look at what you have put in over the years and what you will take out for SSI income and medicare you usually don't put in anywhere near what you take out. Also, a topic that no one will ever tackle is the number of seniors that have never worked but are receiving a check and medicare.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  35. JennyTX

    How about charging social security tax on more than just the first $107,000 of people's salaries?

    September 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  36. Spock500

    Whoa, hold on there just a moment, Mr. Blitzer. Please, let's not get carried away here. I mean, you are taking about awarding credit to a politician on the campaign trail, are you?

    In fairness to Mr. Huntsman, it is indeed refreshing to hear a politician during campaign mode make ANY specific recommendations regarding SS reform. For the past few election cycles, it seems that all we've been hearing from candidates is, "I'm going to fix SS", but nothing else.

    The reason Mr. Huntsman has "the guts" to make any concrete proposal here is that he is far behind in the polls, and he has nothing to lose.

    Hmm, I wonder if Mr. Huntsman would be making this same "gutsy" proposal if he were ahead in the polls. Would the leading candidate in any national political race have the courage to acknowledge that any meaningful SS reform would inevitably require curtailing benefits? Of course not. And if he or she did, then (in my humble opinion), then it would be appropriate to use the word "gutsy".

    September 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  37. Not fooled

    I like President Obama's plan better to leave it off the table.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  38. Don

    This guy has got to be the best GOP candidate. Unfortunately he is too intelligent, honest and truthful for the general GOP. He should run as an independent candidate! As an independent voter, I would vote for this guy. He was the best govenor Utah ever had. The other GOP candidates are way too scary for me!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  39. GOP = Greed Over People

    I am certainly glad this sane RINO picked 2012 to run for the nomination.

    It is a good thing the GOP is not interested in sane candidates this election cycle or Huntsman might have been a threat!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  40. dustin

    he's effectively ruined his bid for nomination – telling the upper income people that they probably don't even need social security (which they won't) and shouldn't get it – that's killing two birds with one stone. how about something along the lines of if you make more you can pay less into it since you probably wont use it but it will still be their in the form of a smaller than average stipend, especially if your retiring with 6 figures in the bank. could use some work but ..

    September 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  41. PolWatcher

    Unbelievable! It's unfortunate that any politician would give voice to this. So what does he think will happen to the individuals who are on the brink with social security as their only financial recourse? Does he care? A suggestion for all politicians....put yourselves in the place of the people who might be affected by your comments...would you really then want it to happen to you?

    September 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  42. Chuckwally

    The one fix no one is talking about is eliminating the cap.
    For decades surplus revenues collected from payroll taxes have been added to the General Fund to pay for things other than what the money was levied for. Part of an accounting process called the Unified Budget that Washington uses to make the balance sheet look better and mask the true size of federal spending. It has been the prime gateway drug fueling Congress's deficit addiction and has been going on for so long now that payroll taxes have essentially morphed into a 'general-use' tax. That means the money is now targeted to help pay for unfunded programs, huge defense budgets, cover tax revenue losses from loopholes, subsidies, etc.
    And general-use taxes (like the individual income tax) should be targeted at a broad base, shouldered across all income ranges. Not just on the backs of the first so many dollars earned. As to fairness, it is a 'flat tax' rate affecting all wages/incomes equally. Eliminate the cap.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  43. monolith

    IIf wealthier Americans aren't going to "qualify" to receive SS benefits, then there should be some level where they no longer have to contribute to it.....

    September 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  44. Michael from Seattle

    I like it. There's no point in trying to fix a program while keeping everybody happy, you won't do either one successfully. Better to just do the fiscally responsible thing and put social security back on track.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  45. Seattle Dan

    Okay...while it is nice that someone is being honest about what needs to happen to Social Security I have a problem with only one of his 3 ideas.
    We do need to raise the age. That is obvious to me. Reducing the monthly payouts. Another good idea.
    However, how can he possibly suggest that people that have paid into the system their whole lives should be able to afford to get nothing out? That is simply redistribution of wealth and isn't right at all.
    How about instead of that idea, we replace it with the idea that people that have never put any money into the system should get nothing out of the system? Doesn't that make it better?
    Otherwise, just let me opt out and handle my own business.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  46. Ira

    That 85th percentile idea is incredibly smart. That would mean most Americans would never live long enough to see Social Security, which is exactly how the system worked when it was implemented (the average lifespan then was 58).

    September 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  47. Kris

    I wish he would become an advisor to Obama....I think he has some good ideas and he is being drowned out by the crazies.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  48. Mike in SA

    Taking benefits away from people who have paid into the program their whole life just because those people were successful? Hey why not tax 99% of the income of 2% of the nation and hand that money out to the other 98%!

    That's not "gutsy".

    September 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  49. conoclast

    Wow, a thinking republican! The man actually says the rich, as regards medicare, 'can afford to do otherwise' - now that's downright revolutionary! Of course the tea-baggers will bare their teeth and scream "socialism" 'til they're blue in the face- but good luck anyway Gov. Huntsman! Nice to know reasonable republicans really do exist.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  50. Mike

    I like the ideas. There's one problem: If "rich" people are not to get social security. How do you define "rich"? Will "rich" people stop saving money for retirement so they become "poor"?
    This is what happens when the nanny state starts something. It's hard to stop.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  51. Greg, Ontario

    It's all talk Wolf. He is just trying to get you talking about him. Hey look! It worked. Just like That liar Bachman . The more you talk about them the better they do, because the average American voter doesn't have the IQ or interest to realize what's important.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  52. Alex

    As a 31 year old independent (social liberal and fiscal conservative), I find this guy has the most sound ideas among currently running republicans. Sadly, reason and the truth can't cut it among republicans. We saw how Ron Paul was booed for stating facts at the last tea-party debate. You have to be extreme to win the republican ticket today!

    September 16, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  53. Bob Jenkins

    Huntsman is correct, the age for normal retirement benefits should be raised. When SS was started only a few people could expect to live to 80, not it is not unusual to live to 90. Raising the age, slowly, to 70, would not be that great a hardship for most people, but yes, it would be a disappointment. Having a income cut off for benefits would also be fair, do millionaires need it, but of course, they would complain. Perhaps they would qualify for a refund of the amount they had paid in, and obviously any benefit from not having to pay them every month would not show any real benefits for a long time.
    Would the politicians be willing to face the anger of voters? Even if it benefited the nation?

    September 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  54. Joshua Wertheim

    I sort-of agree with Huntsman's three ideas with some modifications. From a social security standpoint, retirement should no longer be based upon age, it should be based upon a person's ability to work along with his or her ability to maintain at least a minimum quality of life. Therefore, the SS payout should be on a scale based upon those critieria. Extremely wealthy people should not get the full amount, but extremely poor or lower-middle-class should be guaranteed the full amount, with a scale for those in-between. Just my thoughts.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  55. Lisa

    He seems to be the only moderate conservative trying to nab the nominee. Which means he won't, of course.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  56. Bob

    It's all good except for the part about giving less money to the people already receiving SS...

    September 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  57. Debbie

    Huntsman...the other white meat. Boring. No on any ideas to change Social Security. Stop raiding the fund and cut defense. Restore taxes due from the rich. Bush promised in his jobs bill in 2001 and 2003 that giving the weathy/corporations tax cuts they would be "job creators." 10 years down the road...didn't happen. 2009 GOP promised if voted in they would create jobs. 9 mo down the road...didn't happen.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  58. Tom

    The more I hear about Huntsman, the more I like. I'm 60 and think it's time to face reality. Older Americans should realize that SS needs to be revamped such as Huntsman is saying, otherwise our children and grandchildren will pay the price. Most parents and grandparents will do anything for their kids. It's time to step up. I hope Huntsman stays in the race. He appears to be a man of character.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  59. Missouri Hank

    I like Huntsman – he has rational ideas that are within reach of compromise with Democrats and most independent voters. Unfortunately, like marrying an attractive person with a crazy family, I would also be saddling myself with the wingnuts and ideologues currently driving the bus of the Republican party. That's why I won't vote for him – or any Republican – there is simply too much crazy on that side of the aisle. He'd be steamrolled by them. When the moderate wing of the Republican party decides to emerge again, I'll be happy to consider Republican candidates. Sorry Jon – it must be lonely being a rational adult in today's GOP.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  60. QS

    How about a proposal that includes some kind of mechanism to completely prevent government from raiding the SS funds for other uses?

    I could probably get onboard with raising the age a few years; but cutting the amount in benefits by changing the cost of living formula, when cost of living has tended to only go up and never down...can't say I think that's a good idea!

    September 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  61. aaron from MN

    OMG, do we have a sane republican contendor???? He believes in global warming! He believes the rich have it to easy! Finally a republican that sees the poverty level in this country and wants to do something about it? But then again republicans have a tendency to run on a platform and then do the exact opposit once in office. I konw ya'll remember jobs, jobs, jobs in 2010 by republicans. but instead, gay rights, abortion, social issue, social issue, social issue. How about we put aside the social issues and focus on economics and the state of the planet???

    September 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  62. Mike.

    A republican candidate who's intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, and honest...

    He does't have a chance!

    September 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  63. Danny I

    Why is it fair to take social security money from people who paid their whole lives? That's not even something myself as a liberal would support.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  64. Rob Littell

    Huntsman is the best of the lot in the GOP right now....I'd vote for him way before any of the others....

    September 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  65. PatSJ

    I'm am independent voter and have been watching and reading about him for quite a while. i don't agree with him on some issues but am very impressed by many of his his thoughts and actions. If he were to win the Republican primary, I would still probably not vote for him but it would be a difficult choice.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  66. Andy

    Only #3 is realistic; tell me Wolf, how many people statistically can be productive in most competitive workplaces at 70? Why would raising the age help the economy at all – could it just make people have to try harder to hang on when maybe that is not in anyone's best interest?

    September 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  67. joesmith

    gutsy position, or simply a way for AIPAC, and the rest of the social types to cast negative dark shadows against Mr. Huntsman, by using cnn to encourage Mr. Huntsman to open up on a subject that people want to remain untouchable..nice move cnn..

    September 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  68. Effelbee

    Social is solvent through 2036, according to the CBO, then covered at 75% of current benefits until 2085.. We should be talking about Medicare right now, though adjustments to Social Security would be simple if Congress had any guts and brains.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  69. oussu

    Herein lies the current problem with our politicians and media. The obvious changes that need to be made in order to keep social security at all are labeled "gutsy". Not a pleasant commentary on the current strength of the average politicians spine or the knowledge of the average American.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  70. RB

    Amid the cacophony of the loud, the ignorant, and the obnoxious this gentleman is beginning to look more and more interesting. I believe he deserves a closer look. Wouldn't it be somehting if we nominated a candidate for his sound policies, steadfast principles and intelligence rather than for his ability to scream the loudest and scare us the most?

    September 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  71. USN-Ret

    I am in favor of Jon Huntsman's ideas. I'm 63 years old and I chose to retire at 62. I'd like to see my Children and Grandchildren have a Retirement Fund available to them. If it would help the country, you can even have a piece of my Military Retirement as well. 🙂

    May GOD continue to Bless our Country, no matter how bad we try to mess it up.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  72. Bob Lee

    Does Governor Huntsman know that Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living adjusrtment (COLA) for the past 3 years? The current formula is ZERO increase. So how does he get something from nothing?

    September 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  73. left Coast

    Tweak the cost of living formula? Hmmm, there's an idea, but only if you include the costs that older people incur like out of pocket medical expenses and such. You can reduce other items from the market basket. After all, older folks rarely have to be up to the second with the latest electronic gizmo, though they do replace things when they wear out. (What a concept!) As to raising the retirement age, I see the point, except life span often time depends on the job you did. There are some physical jobs where people wear out early. Why must they wait because the whole population lives so much longer? There needs to be some flexibility. As to having a "claw back" for wealthy people? Yep, great idea. Canada does this, and it makes sense. Oh, and we could take the wage cap off of the Social Security tax. Another way for those at the top to help look after the society that has been so good to them.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  74. Annie Rand

    People who work at physically demanding jobs, such as construction workers, house cleaning, warehousing, mining, fishing, steel workers, assembly line and janitorial shouldn't be able to collect Social Security until they are in their seventies. This will almost guarantee there will be fewer left leaching off the system for those who live long enough to qualify. However the cost savings will likely be offset by injuries and job-related disabilities, so the age for Medicare eligibility would need to be raised as well.

    September 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  75. Jeremy

    Huntsman is one of the few Republican candidates I (or most other independent voters I know) would even consider voting for.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  76. Bill

    It's certainly an interesting position. I'm not a Huntsman supporter, but I do think that we Americans should reserve judgment until we get some hard numbers about what the implications of those changes would be. I'm glad someone put forward an actual position on Social Security, at least.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  77. old11706

    Means test for social security???? Better be awfully high. Most company pensions assume social security.
    Sounds like a tax increase to me.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  78. Candy Taylor

    How is screwing old people "gutsy"? Please, you want to show some courage? How about taking on lobbyists and their huge contributions? Or corporate tax breaks? What is wrong with this country when picking on the most vulnerable is "gutsy"?

    September 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  79. Greg

    What he didn't mention was raising the income level on what the SS payroll tax is paid from the current $106K to a higher level such as $150K.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  80. Chipster

    Gutsy position? What's so gutsy about recommending a plan to tax some of the most vulnerable members of our society to cover the cost of tax cuts for the wealthiest. Seniors have paid into Social Security for decades so, YES, the ARE ENTITLED to receive their benefits. Many of them are struggling to keep their homes but Huntsman is a hero for saying "Oh, lets tinker with the COLA formula (just like they did with the CPI/CPE ) to reduce their benefits even more! What's so courageous about kicking gramma to the curb so that the Koch brothers can afford huge bonuses for their top executives and another home in Aspen for themselves? Thanks, but NO THANKS!

    Someone needs to explain why seniors and working class people would ever vote for Republicans.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  81. mca

    Here's a better idea. How about the US Govt pay back all the money they owe the SS fund? No one ever wants to talk about that as a real possibility. mostly people just ignore that statement but it's a fact that the Social Security funds owns the highest percentage of our national debt. They have borrowed and borrowed from it till there is almost nothing left. then they blame the little guy who is trying live on 700.00 a month by threatening to take it away.The average American citizen has lost all respect for this Govt of ours. They have stolen our money, squandered it away, and then turn the tables trying to blame us for it? When will we wake up and demand our money be put back into this fund? Im thinking the republicans could just about run Mickey Mouse on the presidential tkt and he may win.... but this guy won't.....

    September 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  82. Michael Sheridan

    Why is it that whenever the "people are living longer" argument is raised, nobody asks WHY they're living longer? Perhaps not starving because of Social Security and not dying of treatable illnesses because of Medicare might have a little something to do with it. And there is nothing "gutsy" about a Republican proposing that the less well-off suffer some more pain in order to keep taxes low on the uber-rich.

    You guys in the media need to stop with all this crushing on Huntsman and join the real world. Huntsman will NEVER win another nomination for any office in a party that has become controlled by the Teahadists.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  83. Nancy

    I'm not sure that I agree with all of the changes in Social Security that he mentioned, but I believe with all of my heart that Jon Huntsman is the only one of the 8 candidates that has the knowledge and experience to bring our country relief from the horrible things that are happening. He has a good jobs score as governor and a good knowledge about the foreign market.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  84. gavin

    What needs fixing is not Social security. It is the Congress and their uncontrollable spending that has always threatened the Social Security program. We really need a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget.For years Congress has borrowed money from the Social Security fund to pay for other programs and has not paid back that borrowed money. Social Security would be solvent for future generations if Congress did not take money from it to pay for other programs. It is now time to change the system and put all Social security funds in a lock box. How difficult is it to set up an account for every new person who opts into the system. The banks do this everyday and the government can get them to do it for them. If you started this process today, there would be more than enough money for future retirees. I am tired of people referrring to Social Security as an entitlement program. This is money the government takes out of your paycheck every pay period to pay for a future benefit. It is money each person has contributed toward their retirement. Huntsman's ideas are the same old hogwash politicians have been pushing for years. His only new idea is that rich people do not need social security. Good luck with that one John because rich people like youself have been enjoying low taxes for the past ten years. Those same people are adamantly opposed to ending the Bush tax cuts. Can you imagine their reaction when you tell them they will now not be eligible for Social Security. I think you just lost their votes.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  85. The Shephard

    When are one of these politicians going to suggest that Congress can't borrow from it anymore and it only goes to people who have participated in the program. Why are we not hearing that? Oh yea, that would make sense.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  86. jane

    They should just leave soc sec alone for now until we get out of this recession. medicaid and medicare needs some adjusting due to fraud and the cost of medical care. they are scaring folks needlessly over soc security. it needs stopped. Jane

    September 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  87. Kurt

    'Shared sacrifice': Should Congress cut its pay, benefits? Go after this sacred cow before you touch my Social Security benefits.

    September 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  88. Drogo, who bit the dust

    Huntsman knows he has little chance of gaining the GOP nomination. He may as well throw a few bombs on the way out. Being a billionaires son makes it easy for him to not worry about a check from the Treasury. It would be nice to know who he considers rich.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  89. Stooo

    As a Brit looking in, I have to say that I like Huntsman. He seems like the most sane of the Republican candidates. However, I suspect that he doesn't have a scooby of getting anywhere near the nomination...

    September 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  90. Henry Miller

    Yeah, indexing cost-of-living increases and adjusting retirement ages, sure. But robbing people who have been forced, whether they like it or not, to pay into the Social Ponzi Scheme for their entire working lives, no way. That's just theft.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  91. lgny

    "Maybe take it out to the 85th percentile of the average length of life" OK, what age is that?

    If the median life span is about 76, then the 85th percentile may be as high as 83, but I've seen no firm actuarial data to confirm this.

    While it makes good sense to raise the retirement age, raising it to the 80's may be too high.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  92. FactCheck

    A Republican candidate with a plan? Quick, label him a RINO or a quack before the sheep start listening. Wouldn't want guys like him or Ron Paul to take away from the three ring circus that is Rick Perry.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  93. pduke

    I've voted mainly Democratic since my first votes in 1960. I actually consider voting for Huntsman because I agree with what he has done as governor and he seems unafraid of the Tea Party, speaking more truthfully regarding his views on the issues. I feel he is the only one who would have areal chance of beating Pres. Obama.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  94. EddyL

    Rich recipients like John McCain?

    September 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  95. Katherine

    the fix is so easy and obvious – take the salary cap off – instead of limiting the contributions to salaries up to somewhere over $100,000 – take the cap off – everybody who earns should pay into the system for their entire paycheck – there would be no funding issues. and I agree with Huntsman, the rich don't need SS, but I sure as heck do!

    September 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  96. Dan K

    At leasst this guy has the guts to suggest as you say! But, just what will be the cutoff to determine who is "Rich enough" to do without! On the making less, I depend on this S/S check to make sure I have enogh to pay the food and power bill every month withour digging into my retirement funds! I paid in for 45 yrs to this fund to have to give much of it up! I'll never get out of it what I've paud in + interest over 45 yrs!!!!
    All the politicians are wealthy enough and don't have to worry about that though!!!

    September 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  97. Knucklehead

    I like the idea of not everyone getting Social Security. It was never intended to be a retirement program. It should be thought of as a safety net. If you have managed to attain a decent pension above a certain amount, you shouldn't get anything. Also, they need to tax wages beyond the 108,000 (or whatever it is) up to 150k at least. That would solve alot of these problems.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  98. Patsy

    I would think he was really, really gutsy if he suggested ways to fund this very necessary retirement program for ordinary Americans. Suggestions like those Bernie Sanders is putting forth, eliminating the cap on the social security income base, and for which Blitzer has not, so far as I know, called Senator Sanders gutsy. Guess continuing to steal the worker's share of profits he produces is morally acceptable today.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  99. Jonathan Bricklin

    Bravo for common sense!

    September 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  100. Zach

    He would make a fine president. Too bad he doesn't have a chance of winning.

    September 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
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