GOP Super Committee Member Pledges Not To ‘Chop’ Entitlement Benefits Or Raise The Retirement Age

Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) surprised many when he appointed a Republican widely perceived as a moderate, Rep. Fred Upton (MI), to serve as one of six GOP members on the congressional “super committee” tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit savings by November. Conservatives are worried that Upton will not toe the GOP’s hardline stance against taxes because he’s expressed a willingness to raise revenues by eliminating tax loopholes.

Yesterday at a public forum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Upton gave another glimmer of hope that he would be willing to divorce himself from Tea Party dogma to do what’s right. Upton came out as a strong defender of entitlement programs, and vowed to protect current beneficiaries in the super committee’s deliberations:

UPTON: It’s critical…for people that are benefiting today from Medicare and Social Security, that they do not see benefit reductions. It’s awfully hard to tell someone…who might be 82 that they’ve got to go back to work because their benefits are going to be chopped. That’s not going to happen. We’re not going to let that happen.

Watch it:

In response to audience questions, he also said he doesn’t support raising the retirement age for Social Security over 67 (where it is for workers born after 1960). Upton’s unequivocal support for preserving entitlement programs, at least for today’s seniors, is encouraging when contrasted with the statements of his fellow GOP committee members who have called entitlements “cruel Ponzi schemes.” Like his fellow Republicans, however, Upton did not rule out cuts for future beneficiaries.

Upton also reiterated his support for ending corporate tax dodging by reforming the tax code. “I’m not afraid of looking at tax loopholes,” he said. “I don’t think anybody was happy to see that GE didn’t pay any taxes.”

Some liberals have voiced their concern that Upton is nothing but a conservative in moderate’s clothing who will ultimately go along with his party’s anti-entitlement agenda on the committee. Michigan constituents — and Americans across the country — should certainly keep a close eye on Upton to see if he keeps his promise to them to protect entitlements.