Chris Christie on Social Security
CHRISTIE: Let me be honest with the people who are watching at home. The government has lied to you, and they have stolen from you. They told you that your Social Security money is in a trust fund. All that's in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs from money they spent on something else a long time ago. And they stole it from you because now they know they cannot pay these benefits, and Social Security is going to be insolvent in seven to eight years
HUCKABEE: Yes, we've stolen. Yes, we've lied to the American people. But you know what we're not telling them? It's their money. This is money that people have confiscated out of their paychecks.
TRUMP: I'm OK with it. I would be willing to say I will not get Social Security. As a policy, I would leave it up to the people.
CHRISTIE: Social Security's going to go insolvent in seven to eight years. We need to save this program for people who have paid into the system and need it. If that means making sure that folks like Donald and many of us on the stage don't get it, that's the right thing to do. This government doesn't need more money to make Social Security solvent. We need to be not paying benefits to people who don't really need it. We need to protect the people who Social Security means the difference between picking between heat and rent and food.
CHRISTIE: They're not telling the truth. I guess the alternative could be, that they want a massive tax increase on the American people. If they want, that's fine. Here's my attitude about it, you have two choices--either get rid of some benefits for the very wealthiest in America who don't need a Social Security check, or you can give the government that's already lied to us and stolen from the trust fund more of your money. I don't want to give the government more of our money so they can lie more to us and steal more from us.
CHRISTIE: Yes, we'd raise the retirement age two years, and phase it in over 25 years, that means we'd raise it one month a year for 25 years when we're all living longer, and living better lives. Secondly, we would needs-test Social Security for those who are making over $200,000 dollars a year in retirement income, and have $4 to $5 million dollars in liquid assets saved. They don't need that Social Security check. Social Security is meant to be--to make sure that no one who's worked hard, and played by the rules, and paid into the system grows old in poverty in America. If we don't deal with this problem, it will bankrupt our country, or lead to massive tax increases, neither one that we want in this country.
CHRISTIE: He's complaining about the lying and stealing. The lying and stealing has already occurred. The trust fund is filled with IOU's. We can't fix the problem just by ending Congress' retirement, that's worth about, "this" much [gesturing a small amount]. I don't disagree with ending Congress' retirement program, [but] we need to go at the fundamental problem, and the fundamental problem is that this system is broken. It has been stolen from. We have been lied to, and we need a strong leader to tell the truth and fix it.
But the pension fund's problem is a long-term one. Right now the $90 billion unfunded liability for pensions and health benefits is three times the size of the annual state budget. Think of this way--in order to close the current shortfall in just the pension system alone every family in New Jersey would have to write a check for $12,000.
That is the nature of long-term entitlements which grow faster than the economy, and in that regard our problem here in New Jersey is not that different from Washington's entitlement problem. Last summer I appointed a pension and health benefits task force--to think outside the box, and they are hard at work.
In total, the pension and health benefits reform package that you passed will save taxpayers over $120 billion over the next 30 years. Just as importantly, it will help make sure the pension is actually there when our public employees and school teachers retire. Other states have noticed: this reform is becoming a model for America.
When we combine this needed discipline on spending and taxes, with responsibility in addressing our long-term liabilities, with pro-growth actions on the regulatory side, we have made New Jersey a better place to do business.
A: Greed. And because no one wanted to tell anybody the truth. The truth was you can't continue to spend the kind of money our spending on all these entitlement programs. I think we need more people in public life who are willing to say no, we can't afford certain things, no we can't do certain things, we've got to wind up being honest with people. I think we got ourselves in this mess because some people in the financial industry became incredibly short-sighted and greedy and we had government officials who refused to say no.
Bloomberg News follow-up: Gov. Christie said the state may not be able to make a required pension payment. The state treasurer planned to make a $512 million contribution to the pension system in fiscal 2012, its first in four years. Christie said, "We'll make that contribution if the state is in a position to make that contribution." The governor skipped a $3 billion payment into the $67 billion fund in his first budget as he coped with a record $11 billion deficit. The fund had a deficit of $46 billion.
Legislative record:Bill Passed Assembly, 62-9-9; Passed Senate, 34-2-4, March 22, 2010. Sen. Lesniak voted YEA.
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