Mike Huckabee on Social Security

Former Republican AR Governor; possible draft candidate


White-collar workers ok to work until 70 but not blue-collar

Q: You have laid forward no plan to reform entitlements. How can you say you're going to pay down our country's debt without cutting Social Security or Medicare?

HUCKABEE: For the government to say, "it is fault of working people that we have a Social Security problem," no. It is the fault of a government that used those people's money for something other than protecting those people's accounts. So let's not blame them and punish them. I sometimes hear Republicans say "well, we're going to have to cut this and extend the age." You know what I think a lot of times when I hear people say, "well, let's make people work to their 70." That sounds great for white-collar people who sat at a desk most of their lives. You ever talk to somebody that stood on concrete floor for the first 40 years of their working life? Do you think they can stand another five years or 10 years, many of them will retired virtually crippled because they worked hard. And we're going to punish them some more? I don't think so.

Source: Fox Business 2016 Republican Undercard debate , Jan 14, 2016

Eliminate payroll tax, which taxes people for working hard

The reason people are having a hard time getting ahead is the tax system punishes them. If you work hard and start moving up the economic ladder, you get bumped into a different tax bracket. The government thinks it deserves more of your hard work than you do. No matter how many different reforms you have, you're taxing everything that produces something. It's time for something big. No payroll tax deducted from checks.
Source: Fox Business 2016 Republican Undercard debate , Jan 14, 2016

Entitlements are earned benefits, not welfare

Q: You have characterized entitlement reform as both political and economic suicide.

HUCKABEE: Well, Sandra, first of all, let me mention the fact that I think there's a big difference between welfare programs and what some people call entitlements. Namely, Social Security and Medicare. I just want to remind everybody out there who has ever had a paycheck, the government didn't ask you if you wanted them to take money out of your check for Social Security and Medicare. They did that involuntarily. Those are not entitlements and that's not welfare. That's an earned benefit. And by gosh, you paid for it. And if the government screwed it up, you shouldn't have to pay the penalty because of an incompetent government. That's different than the social programs that we've spent $2 trillion on since the War on Poverty began exactly 50 years ago this year.

Source: 2015 Fox Business/WSJ Second Tier GOP debate , Nov 10, 2015

Don't use Social Security Trust Fund to borrow more money

Q [to Gov. Christie]: You said that we need to raise the retirement age for Social Security; and that we need to cut benefits for people who make over $80,000. Gov. Huckabee said that your policies would rob seniors of the benefits that they've earned.

HUCKABEE: Yes, we've lied to the American people. But you know what we're not telling them? It's their money. This is not entitlement; it's not welfare. This is money that people have confiscated out of their paychecks. Today Congress decided to take another $150 billion away from Social Security so they can borrow more money. they're always going to say, "well, we're going to fix this one day." No, they're not. This is a matter not of math; this is a matter of morality. If this country does not keep its promise to seniors, then what promise can this country hope to be trusted to keep?

Source: GOP `Your Money/Your Vote` 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Means-testing lets government decide what you deserve

Let's keep in mind that for one-third of the 60 million Americans on Social Security represents 90% of their income. When I hear people talking about means testing, let's just remember what that means. If we means-test Social Security, it means that the government decides whether or not I deserve it. If a person lives in a seven-room house, does the government get to say you don't need seven rooms, we're going to take two of them away?

Folks, the government has no business stealing even more from the people who have paid this in. I just want to remind you: People paid their money; they expect to have it. And if this government doesn't pay it, then tell me what's different between the government and Bernie Madoff, who sits in prison today, for doing less than what the government has done to the people on Social Security and Medicare in this country.

Source: GOP `Your Money/Your Vote` 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Feds reached into your pocket for 51 years

Q [to Gov. Christie]: You say that to save the system that you have to cut benefits for Social Security and Medicare, and you say that some of the candidates here on the stage are lying. Governor Huckabee says he can maintain benefits; is he lying?

CHRISTIE: No, he's not lying, he's just wrong. Yes, we'd raise the retirement age two years, and we would needs-test Social Security.

HUCKABEE: Nobody in this country is on Social Security because they made the decision when they were starting work at 14 that they wanted to trust some of their money with the government. The government took it out of their check whether they wanted them to or not. And, if a person goes to 65, they're going to spend 51 years with the government reaching into their pocket at every paycheck. Now, here's the point, whose fault is it that the system is screwed up? Is it the recipients, or is it the government? I just think it's fundamentally lying to people and stealing from them, and we shouldn't be doing it.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Top Ten First Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

Opposes increases the eligibility age for social security

Q: Government trustees say, without any changes, for instance Medicare's hospital insurance fund will run out of money by 2030, and the Social Security trust fund will run out of money by 2033. Governor, don't we have to find some way either raising the eligibility age or cutting perhaps for the wealthier people to try to keep these programs solvent? I'm not saying for current retirees, but for people, a lot of reformers say, 55 and younger.

HUCKABEE: The problem with people even 55 and younger, they've been paying in for 40 years. This was not a voluntary extraction from their paycheck. It was involuntarily lifted from them, under the guise that the government would then provide for them their money back in that Social Security or Medicare fund. One of the reasons that I'm for the FairTax is that it means that everybody will help fund Social Security and Medicare. If everybody was under a consumption tax, which is what the FairTax does, all Americans would be contributing.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 24, 2015

Consider raising retirement age for new workers

Huckabee advocates a balanced federal budget and frequently points to his record of balancing budgets as governor of Arkansas. On Medicare and Social Security, in April he indicated he would consider raising the retirement age for young people just entering the workforce and keep benefits and eligibility intact for those closer to retirement.
Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , May 5, 2015

Will try to fix Social Security with FairTax

We’re in trouble is because we have a smaller group of people paying into the Social Security system, fewer wage earners, more Americans getting their wealth from dividends and from investments. I’m a strong supporter of the Fair Tax is that you suddenly have a different funding stream for Social Security. It comes out of the general fund. So you now have a more reliable, a more stable and a much broader funding system that will supply Social Security.
Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

Personalization of retirement funds, not privatization

Q: What’s your Social Security plan?

A: The president had the right idea, but he used the wrong word. When he used the word privatization, it scared the daylights out of a lot of people.

Q: Well, he didn’t. He used the word private accounts.

A: Well, but it scared the daylights out of people because they’re thinking Enron and WorldCom, and that that’s where their money would go. The right word is personalization. Empower individuals to have a greater say over their money. And that’s what it is. Keep the government from robbing the trust funds, which is something that, if it was done in the private sector, would get a guy in jail. One thing, when people reach retirement age, if they really have enough retirement benefits, they don’t need Social Security for the long term, give them the option of one-time buyout, or the opportunity to purchase an annuity, with their funds, tax-free, that frees up the long-term obligation of the government.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida , Oct 21, 2007

Personal retirement accounts allow investing in one’s future

Q: Current estimates for the unfunded liabilities of our Social Security system are as high as $10 trillion. Would you revive Pres. Bush’s attempt to introduce personal retirement accounts as a way to reform Social Security, thus allowing all Americans, particularly low-wage workers & the self-employed, an investment in their future & ownership in the inheritance they pass on?
Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Replace payroll tax & fund Social Security with FairTax

I’d like you to join me at the best “Going Out of Business” sale I can imagine--one held by the Internal Revenue Service. Am I running for president to shut down the federal government? Not exactly. But I am running to completely eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. And do I mean all--personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment. All our hours filling out forms, all our payments for help with those forms, all our shopping bags filled with disorganized receipts, all our headaches and heartburn from tax stress will vanish. Instead we will have the FairTax, a simple tax based on wealth. When the FairTax becomes law, it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness.
Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website mikehuckabee.com “Issues” , Sep 1, 2007

No Congressional pensions; give them same deal as citizens

It is imperative that Congress learn that they have not been elected to be “princes of privilege”, but servants of the people. Congressional pensions should be eliminated altogether. Congressmen should be subject to the Social Security system and to the same kind of Independent Retirement Accounts that other Americans have to experience. There are people in this nation who have worked 45 years and will earn a fraction of what the incumbent will receive after 18 years of Federal service as a Senator.
Source: Associated Press Questionnaire for AR Senate Debate , Nov 1, 1992

Maintain long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Huckabee 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.

NGA’s Position

NGA opposes reductions from current discretionary spending levels or changes that could risk the long-term solvency of the nation’s 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

Maintain federal funding of Social Services Block Grants.

Huckabee adopted a letter to Senate leaders from 4 Governors:

We are writing in strong opposition to the cuts to the Title XX/Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program as included in the fiscal 2000 appropriations bill.

Over the past few years, SSBG has taken more than its share of cuts in federal funding. As part of the 1996 welfare reform deal, Congress made a commitment to Governors that SSBG would be level funded at $2.38 billion each year. In fact, Governors reluctantly accepted a 15% cut in SSBG funds at that time in exchange for the commitment for stable funding in the future. However, repeated cuts in SSBG have been enacted regardless of that commitment. For fiscal 2000, SSBG is funded at $1.05 billion, which is over a 50% cut from its mandatory authorized level. Such a drastic reduction in funding for SSBG will result in cuts to vital human services for our most vulnerable citizens.

SSBG provides services to needy populations, including low-income children and families, the elderly, and the disabled. While SSBG does have a strong connection with welfare reform efforts in states by providing valuable resources for child care and transportation, it also provides services to many individuals who are not considered welfare recipients. For example, in many states, SSBG funding is used to provide foster care assistance, meals on wheels for the elderly, and independent living services for the disabled -- programs which are not allowable uses of welfare funds such as TANF.

In addition, as Congress finalizes this bill, we reiterate our adamant opposition to cutting funding for other vital health and human services programs which would adversely affect millions of Americans -- with the greatest impact on children and the elderly in the greatest need. The Governors are not seeking increased federal funding; we are simply requesting that you fulfill your commitments and reject cuts in programs such as SSBG that would jeopardize our strong state-federal partnership.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 99-NGA23 on Sep 29, 1999

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016