Jeb Bush: Social Security Means-Testing 'Ought to Be Considered'

By Susan Jones | June 1, 2015 | 12:19pm EDT

Jeb Bush favors means-testing for Social Security retirement benefits as well as immigration reform that would make millions of former illegal aliens eligible for those benefits. (AP File Photo)

( - Jeb Bush says he would considering pushing back the Social Security retirement age by as many as five years and scaling back benefits for Americans who paid into the system but who also have accumulated wealth.

"We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from (age) 65 to 68 or 70. And that by itself will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40," Bush, a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination, told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Bush also wants to phase out benefits for higher earners, who have paid into the system for their entire working lives.

"What about means testing?" Bob Schieffer asked Bush.

"I think it ought to be considered, for sure," Bush replied.

As conceived by the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Social Security was intended to be a retirement insurance program for all working Americans regardless of income, funded by mandatory payroll taxes.

Means-testing would turn Social Security into a wealth transfer program, diverting payroll contributions from those who earn more to those who earn less.

And if Jeb Bush has his way on immigration, some of those lower-income workers would be people who came to the United States illegally.

In April, in a speech to the National Christian Hispanic Leadership Conference, Bush said the nation must "fix" its broken immigration system, including "dealing with the 11 million undocumented workers that are here in this country -- 11 million people that should come out from the shadows and receive earned legal status, where they pay a fine, where they work...provide for their families, not receive government assistance, and over a period of time, be able to receive earned legal status."

President Obama also wants to bring millions of illegal aliens out of the shadows, and he's trying to do it on a temporary basis by executive action because Congress refuses to go along with his plan.

Obama's DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) programs aimed to give temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, but a federal court recently blocked both DAPA and expanded DACA, prompting an appeal from the Obama administration.

In its May 26 ruling on Obama's executive amnesty program, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that being "lawfully present" in the United States "makes aliens who were not otherwise qualified for most federal public benefits eligible for “social security retirement benefits, social security disability benefits, [and] health insurance under Part A of the Medicare program.”

The three-judge panel refused to lift the lower-court injunction on Obama's executive amnesty.

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