BLANKFEIN: You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations — the entitlements and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to — they’re not going to get it.
PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?
BLANKFEIN: You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.
PELLEY: Because we can’t afford them going forward?
BLANKFEIN: Because we can’t afford them.
Maybe working until a later age is fine for a Wall Street CEO whose net worth is $450 million. But it’s simply nonsense to assert that the retirement age needs to go up because Social Security is no longer affordable.
For starters, Social Security can pay full benefits for decades without any changes at all. (Imagine the accolades that would received if any other federal program had guaranteed funding for that stretch of time.) One simple change, raising the cap on the payroll tax, can guarantee that the program will pay nearly full benefits for three-quarters of a century. In the meantime, Social Security is statutorily barred from adding one dime to the federal deficit, so cutting it doesn’t change the nation’s deficit or debt picture.
Raising the retirement age, meanwhile, adversely impacts those workers most in need of a robust social safety net. While a year or two of extra work may not seem like much to a Wall Street CEO with his cushy corner office, for a factory worker or janitor, it can mean real problems. Life expectancy is only increasing for wealthier workers in non-physical jobs. Poorer workers doing physical labor have not seen the same gains. Overall, raising the retirement age to 70 would “cut benefits for the average retiree by 19 percent.”