Former Senator Sam Nunn has a new gig. He's a Steering Committee memberfor the "Campaign to Fix The Debt," which is advocating for economy-killing austerity.
This week he appeared on CNBC's Squawk Box as a guest host. He was joined by fellow Campaign to Fix The Debt committee member David Cote, a billionaire CEO who has said he wants a zero percent corporate tax rate. Nunn laid out his case for cutting Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age:
COTE: When you recommend something like that you raise the retirement age by a year 75 years from now when my grandchildren will already be retired -- and the outcry begins -- say this is ridiculous [...]
NUNN: When we passed Social Security and we passed Medicare the life expectancy was somewhere in the mid-60's. Today the life expectancy is somewhere betwen 78 and 82, somewhere in that range. We basically haven't made the adjustment. You can't live with that!
Cote then heartily agreed. Watch Cote and Nunn's remarks (they begin at around 11:50):
The problem with Cote and Nunn's justification for raising the retirement age -- the idea that we're all living longer -- is that it simply isn't true. Life expectancy has shot up -- but only for white collar workers like lawyers. Life expectancy for blue collar workers has stayed fairly constant over the past few decades. Here's a chart from the Center for Economic and Policy Research demonstrating this inequality in life expectancy:
So if we were to raise the retirement age, we'd essentially be making janitors retire later because lawyers are living longer.
But why raise the retirement age at all, anyway? Social Security is completely unrelated to the debt, and the best way to preserve it for decades to come is to simply lift the payroll tax cap.