Chris Christie will propose broad-based reforms to Social Security today in New Hampshire, he said in an interview with Yahoo News Tuesday.
The New Jersey governor's proposal, submitted as he prepares a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination, is meant to build off of his record in addressing pension reform in his home state.
By suggesting cuts to Social Security, Christie will go beyond even the boldest plans for entitlement reform offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and offer conservatives concerned about the federal debt a reason to support him.
Christie will propose raising the normal retirement age for Social Security from 67 to 69, and the early retirement age from 62 to 64.
He will also introduce significant means-testing into the program, phasing out retirement benefits starting for seniors earnings above $80,000 and zeroing them out for those earnings more than $200,000 annually.
The changes would affect future retirees rather than current beneficiaries, and Christie would not raise payroll taxes on high earners. He would also seek to address the fiscal problems with the Social Security disability program.
Christie's plan is sure to prompt fierce criticism from Social Security advocates who view it essential to the program's political viability that it work as a retirement program for all, not a social insurance program for low-income earners.
Even on the right, Social Security cuts are politically risky. Republicans such as Ryan, who authored years of House GOP budgets, have advanced reforms to entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid in recent years, but have avoided spelling out Social Security spending reductions.
"I think the grandmothers and grandfathers of this country care about the lives their grandchildren are going to have," Christie told Yahoo News in arguing for reforming Social Security. "And they want these programs to exist for their grandchildren."
The last major push for Social Security reform was during the George W. Bush administration. President Obama and congressional Republicans also negotiated over smaller changes to the program during his tenure, but momentum for such a deal has waned as deficits have shrunk in recent years.