Senator Mark Pryor is making entitlements an issue in the Arkansas Senate race. Both Pryor and his Democratic allies are hitting Republican nominee and House member Tom Cotton over his support for a budget proposal that would have, starting in 2022, gradually raised the retirement age for receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Pryor spokesman Erik Dorey said last month that "Congressman Cotton will need to answer for why he recklessly voted to undermine Arkansas seniors’ hard-earned retirement and make them wait for Medicare and Social Security until they’re 70."
Meanwhile, the Democrat-affiliated Senate Majority PAC has a new ad that says Cotton voted to "deny Social Security to seniors until they're 70." Watch the ad below:
What the ad and the criticism from the Pryor campaign fail to note is that the Republican Study Committee budget proposal supported by Cotton would not have implemented raising the age of retirement until 2022. Furthermore, the plan would have only begun raising the retirement age by two months each year, meaning it would have only been in 2052 that the retirement age would reach 70. By then the "seniors" Cotton voted to "deny" benefits until age 70 would have been born in 1982.
Is it an extreme position to raise the retirement age for future generations in order to keep entitlement programs solvent? Maybe, but it's a position Pryor has held before. In 2011, Pryor touted raising the retirement age for those not yet on the program as a good fix to Social Security's insolvency. Speaking with local broadcaster KTSS in June 2011, Pryor said Social Security is "very, very fixable" and changes ought to be implemented sooner rather than later.
"We could fix Social Security next week, if we wanted to. It's not that hard to do," Pryor said. "Probably the biggest change would be, you would take my kids' generation, teenagers today, and life expectancy's longer, et cetera, and probably say that they couldn't get Social Security until they turn 68 or 69. If you just did that one change, you fix about 80 percent of it right there." Watch the video below (the exchange begins at 1:43):