In a press conference on Capitol Hill today, House Democrats in the Ohio delegation vigorously attacked House Minority Leader John Boehner for his recent suggestion -- among other things -- to raise the qualification to receive Social Security benefits.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Boehner put forth the idea of raising the Social Security age to 70 for those who are more than 20 years away from receiving a Social Security check. Boehner went on to say, “We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we're broke.” More: “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you're retired, why are we paying you at a time when we're broke? We just need to be honest with people.”
Ohio Democrats -- many in extremely competitive districts -- slammed Boehner for these comments, calling him "out of touch" and accusing him of being an elitist.
Rep. Steve Driehaus referenced Boehner’s love of golf, saying: “Mr. Boehner’s comments are outrageous, and again it shows how out of touch Mr. Boehner is with the average Ohioan. You know when your point of reference is the manicured greens of country clubs, I can understand how he might not understand the suffering going on of average Ohioans across the state.”
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, another Ohio Democrat at risk of losing her seat in November, added: “It seems to me that John Boehner, who doesn’t have to rely on Social Security for his retirement, fails to appreciate how vital Social Security it is, what a lifeline it is for hard working people in the district.”
And Rep. Tim Ryan poured it on, saying: “People who work for a living with their hands, who don’t wear ties and suits and nice dresses and jewelry and play golf and hang out don’t have the luxury of an additional five to ten years of back breaking work -- it’s not going to happen.”
In response to these Democrats, Boehner’s office pointed out that the minority leader's statements were similar to what House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recent said. “On the spending side, we could and should consider a higher retirement age, or one pegged to lifespan; more progressive Social Security and Medicare benefits,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer’s office has said Hoyer meant that all options must be on the table in regards to the long term health and future of Social Security.
*** UPDATE *** Boehner spokesman Michael Steel emails: “Last week, in a widely reported speech, Majority Leader Hoyer endorsed raising the Social Security retirement age. Does Rep. Kaptur believe Hoyer is ‘callous, outrageous, and un-American’? Does Rep. Ryan object to Rep. Hoyer wearing a suit and tie? Does Rep. Dreihaus believe his Majority Leader is out of touch? Does Rep. Space believe that Hoyer wants the elderly to clean toilets, stock shelves, or serve French fries?”