- Presidential candidate Chris Christie said that U.S. leaders "need to deal with Social Security," floating means testing and raising the retirement age.
- The former New Jersey governor delved into his campaign policy platform in between attacks on ex-President Donald Trump.
- Trump has vowed not to cut the programs, and his nearest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has backed off his prior support for entitlement reforms.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that U.S. leaders "need to deal with Social Security" and vowed not to shy away from entitlement reform if he becomes the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
"We have to look at things like means testing for the very wealthy [who] don't need to get Social Security," Christie said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
"And secondly, for people in their 30s and 40s we need to consider, you know, raising the retirement age," he said.
Christie, one of the latest entrants in the primary race, delved into his campaign policy platform in between attacks on former President Donald Trump, the clear Republican frontrunner. He slammed Trump as a "paper tiger" who has yet to be challenged by the rest of the field, bashed him for ballooning the U.S. deficit and sounded off on Trump's recent remarks about his criminal classified documents case.
"You see some of this crazy stuff he said last night," Christie said on CNBC, referring to Trump's latest interview on Fox News, when he said he didn't immediately respond to a subpoena for the documents in part because he was "very busy."
"How many rounds of golf has he played in the two and a half years since he left office?" Christie said.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 counts including willfully retaining national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice. His federal criminal case has been tentatively set to go to trial on Aug. 14, though it's likely to be delayed.
Pivoting to the economy, Christie said "excessive government spending" was the root cause of recent inflation woes. "We've got to bring spending under control, we've got to reform out entitlement programs," he said.
Christie also rejected the possibility of raising taxes as a way to address the debt. "You have to revitalize the economy to bring more growth, and secondly you have to reduce spending," Christie said.
And "we need to deal with Social Security," Christie said, noting that the program is scheduled to be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2034.
Politicians are often reluctant to discuss proposals to restructure Social Security and Medicare, two highly popular government programs upon which tens of millions of U.S. seniors rely. Strong majorities of U.S. adults across the political spectrum consistently say they oppose cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Trump has vowed not to cut the programs, and his nearest competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has backed off his prior support for entitlement reforms.
But Christie said he "of course" will talk about those issues if he becomes the nominee. "I'm talking about them right now," he said.
Christie, 60, faces a steep uphill climb if he hopes to overtake Trump in the primary. National polls of the GOP field regularly give the former president large double-digit leads over DeSantis, his top rival. Christie has tended to score in the low-to-mid single digits, and some surveys have shown his favorability ratings underwater among Republican voters.
"Those numbers are national numbers, and no one's run a campaign against him yet," Christie said when asked about Trump's polling lead.