Christie's entitlement fix is broken: Democrat

Tackling politic's 3rd rail: Entitlements
Tackling politic's 3rd rail: Entitlements

Democratic economist Jared Bernstein praised Gov. Chris Christie for trying to fix the nation's broken entitlement system but said Friday the plan by the possible GOP presidential candidate falls short because it would mostly hurt the people who need the assistance.

"I give Christie credit for bringing entitlements to the table, but I think it matters what you do when you get to the table," the former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "I actually think if we want to get into the weeds, [you see] that changes are much less well-designed and helpful to people who really depend on these programs than they should be."

Christie presented his plan during a speech Tuesday in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary election. He proposed gradually raising the retirement age to 69 and cutting Social Security benefits to those earning at least $200,000.

"Where Christie actually gets traction, in terms of saving money for entitlements, is not at all from this means test … It's from raising the retirement age, which hits everybody. [That's] actually a 7 percent reduction of benefits across the board," said Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. "Two-thirds of Social Security recipients, for them, Social Security is half of their income."

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Bernstein said Christie's proposal "does virtually nothing" to make the program solvent. "Do you know the amount of people this means-testing [plan] hits? It's 2 percent," he said.