Fiscal realities and the way we work have changed the way Washington looks at retirement
When the congressional supercommittee charged with cutting trillions from the U.S. budget prepares meets this fall, all areas of the federal budget will be on the table. A thing like defense spending, which was once considered sacrosanct, is now on the chopping block.
Only some Americans -- members of the military and those who work in the defense industry -- will feel the pinch when defense spending is cut. However, there is one proposal on the table that will affect all Americans, not just now, but for generations: an increase in the retirement age.
Changing the retirement age -- currently 66 years -- once ranked along with defense spending as the untouchable third rail of American politics. Changing the way that people retire could mean steep losses at the poll booth.
But the fiscal reality of the last decade changed the way
"My sons are 21 and 22; neither of them thinks
Last summer, House Majority Leader
On this one issue, politicians are on the same page.
A reflection of America's changing economy. An increase in the retirement age is also a reflection of the way Americans work. Most consider the U.S. retirement age 66, but workers can start collecting benefits at 62.
The retirement age of 66 was set because of the way Americans worked over the 20th century. The American economy was built on the backs of blue-collar workers, whose bodies wouldn't allow continued strenuous work as they lived into their 60s. Age 65 was chosen in the 1930s based on actuarial studies of sustainablity and the historical precedent of state retirement programs.
"There are certain jobs that don't lend themselves into their late 60s," said
However, the way Americans work has changed. Many of the manufacturing jobs that used to reside in
Because of this, Americans are living longer. According to a
Changes to retirement age gradual but steady.Under proposals being considered in
The most popular plan with politicians for raising the retirement age is one drafted by former
And it's not like
According to MacGuineas, these increases are imperative if
"Retirement age has to be on the table. It will either get incorporated into law in this round of fiscal reforms or in the near future," she said. "There's no way we can support people as they live longer. And it's an issue that is becoming less politically charged."
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