Kennedy reignites entitlements debate, says Congress should 'talk about' extending retirement age

Hill Republicans talking about Social Security and Medicare reform in a presidential election cycle has been criticized by Democrats as well as GOP leadership.
John Kennedy, Washington, D.C., March 21, 2022
John Kennedy, Washington, D.C., March 21, 2022

Republican Sen. John Kennedy said Congress should "talk about" changing the retirement age for federal entitlements, in part because of longer life expectancy. 

"Of course, we ought to talk about it," the Louisiana senator said on "Fox News Sunday" on the question of whether there "needs to be conversations" about Medicare or Social Security reform. 

"The life expectancy of the average American right now is about 77 years old," Kennedy continued. "For people who are in their 20s, their life expectancy will probably be 85 to 90. Does it really make sense to allow someone who's in their 20s today to retire at 62? Those are the kind of things that we should talk about."

He also said President Biden will call Republicans "mean" and "bad" if they discuss reforming Social Security or Medicare.

"Biden has taken that issue totally off the table," he said.

The president in his State of the Union address last month said "some Republicans want Social Security and Medicare to sunset."

GOP congressional leaders insists they have so such plans, at least as part of their discussions with the White House on the debt limit. But some members of their conference have floated the idea of entitlement reform.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget President Maya MacGuineas said last week the Social Security trust fund is projected to be insolvent within the next dozen years.

"If we do nothing, Social Security will have an over 20% across-the-board benefit cut," she said.

The Social Security fund could be exhausted even sooner. In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected the fund could be insolvent by 2033.