Sunday, January 2, 2011

Graham: Reduce benefits for wealthy seniors

Senator takes his "hard decisions" message to Meet the Press

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Seniors should be older before the receive Social Security and wealthy Americans should receive less benefits across the board, says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

He made the argument in an interview on Sunday's Meet the Press, but it's a position Graham has advocated for on the stump in South Carolina, including a 2009 stop at The Citadel with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"What I'm going to do is challenge this country to make some hard decisions," Graham said at the time, telling the crowd of cadets, Tea Partiers, and Graham supporters that they shouldn't give Congress a pass on the tough stuff.

The tough stuff was the highlight of Graham's 20-minute interview, as he argued a point you're not likely going to here from other Republicans, even those to the right of the relatively moderate senator. Graham's pitch was that the age eligibility would need to be increased and benefits for the wealth would have to be means tested. To support his position, Graham pointed to tough recommendations recently recommended by the nonpartisan debt commission.

The Social Security Administration should sit down with individuals under 55 and discuss their needs so they can prepare for a retirement with fewer benefits, Graham said. Asked about prescription coverage under Medicare, Graham proved even that wasn't a sacred cow. He told MTP host David Gregory that people in their tax bracket can afford prescriptions, so the government shouldn't be footing the bill.

It was evident that Graham was out on a limb when his interview was followed by a panel that included Sen.-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Graham praised Toomey's support for entitlement reform, but the incoming Senator said he didn't want to focus on "sacrifices," instead dusting off the idea of riskier accounts for younger Americans.

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