Carson: Raise Retirement Age For Those Under 55, I ‘Would Love’ Voluntary Opt-Outs

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson argued that it “will be necessary” to raise the retirement age for people under 55, and he “would love” if people who “really don’t need it” opted out of Social Security on Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead.”

Carson was asked if he would raise the retirement age and cut benefits as Italy has. He said, “I think the solutions here might be different, because the problems are a little bit different. But the key was, you know, Italy was on the same trajectory as Greece, heading off the fiscal cliff, and they had the courage to make some changes. They had a large fiscal gap, and now they’ve set themselves on the pathway to long-term prosperity. Greece has not. And the longer one waits to correct that kind of situation, the more draconian measures have to be. We also have an extremely large fiscal gap, which is getting larger. And unless we begin to react to it soon, we will be in a great deal of trouble.”

After being asked if he meant this required raising the retirement age, Carson stated, “It requires the courage to do what is better for us now. One of the things that will be necessary, is gradually raising the retirement age for people who are under the age of 55. But we’re looking at a number of different ways, obviously, to save Social Security, right now scheduled to run out of money in 2033. We really don’t want that to happen.”

Regarding whether he would cut benefits for people with large incomes, Carson said that he “would love for people to voluntarily opt out of it.” He added, “If people have earned something, I’m a little reticent to just take it from them. I would prefer that they would, as a contribution to their nation, if they really don’t need it, make a sacrifice for someone else. I think there’s plenty of precedence for that type of an attitude in America.”

When asked if he would do the same thing and call on other candidates to do the same, Carson answered, “Not only would I be delighted to give it back, but for many, many years, I have been giving a lot of money, trying to better our country, trying to give scholarships to children, putting in reading rooms, trying to change the trajectory of their lives, and I will continue to do that.”

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