WASHINGTON — Mike Huckabee, getting ready to run again for president, says Chris Christie’s proposed changes to the country’s entitlement system is an “insult” to Americans.
The Daily Caller asked Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, about the New Jersey governor’s plan during a coffee with reporters on Friday morning. In a speech this week, Christie proposed eventually raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of payments to wealthy seniors through means testing.
“I don’t know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don’t understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is,” Huckabee said when asked about Christie’s proposal. “My entire life, as it is with every American, it was never an option for me to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.”
“That’s been taken out of my pay before I ever got the money,” Huckabee continued. “It wasn’t like I said, ‘You know what, I want to contribute to that fund. Because I when I get older, by gosh, I want there to be a Social Security program. I want there to be a Medicare program.’ I didn’t get the option. It was taken out of my check before I ever saw the money.”
Huckabee then said of the proposed changes: “I would say it’s not just no. It’s you-know-what no. That we’re going to rip this rug out from under people who have dutifully paid in their entire lives to a system.”
“I’m not being just specifically critical of Christie,” Huckabee added. “But that’s not a reform. That’s not some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace. Because what we’re really embracing at that point, you’re embracing a government that lied to its people. That took money from its people under one pretense, and then took it away from them at the time they started wanting to actually get what they paid for all these years.”
During his speech, Christie, also mulling a 2016 bid, prefaced his calls to raise the eligibility age for these programs by saying the changes would not affect those currently collecting these benefits but would be implemented to “save these programs for your grandchildren.”
Christie’s plan would gradually raise the retirement for Social Security to 69 starting in 2022. For Medicare, Christie said the age should be slowly raised until it reaches 69 in 2064.
Christie also argued that gradually raising the eligibility age makes sense because when Medicare was enacted, life expectancy in the United States was 67 years old for a man, and 73 for a woman. “Today, life expectancy in this country is 79 for a man and 82 for a woman,” he said.
Huckabee told reporters he’s actively preparing for a possible presidential run, and will provide new details on plans for an announcement while appearing on Special Report with Bret Baier on Fox News on Friday.
“Well, I’ll give you a little tip,” Huckabee said when asked when he will announce. “If you will watch Bret Baier tonight, there will be an indication of maybe when an announcement will be forthcoming.”