Howard Dean

said Wednesday that he misspoke when he told the AFL-CIO he never favored raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits to age 70.

Dean acknowledged that he had called for such an increase when the country was faced with a deficit in 1995, but said he no longer thinks it is necessary. He said former President Clinton set an example of balancing the budget without raising the retirement age.

“Clinton proved that if you run a decent economy and have a budget surplus and some jobs, then you don’t need to raise the age to extend the life of Social Security,” Dean said in a telephone interview after The Associated Press questioned conflicting statements he has made on the issue.

Absent other evidence, I’ll gladly take his word that he simply forgot that he’d changed his mind.

The rest of this is just baffling, though. We were faced with a deficit in 1995; we’re faced with a deficit now.

And how did Clinton prove anything about Social Security?! Aside from the fact that nobody–not even the president–runs the economy, what does that have to do with the demographic time bomb that is Social Security? Did the Baby Boom generation all retire when Clinton was in office? No, they didn’t.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kevin Drum says:

    Ah, the demographic time bomb….

    If we gradually raise the cap on SS taxes from the current $80K to about $300K over the next 30 years, SS would be fully funded.

    If we gradually raise the Medicare tax from the current 1.45% to about 5%, it’s fully funded too.

    This is no fun, of course, but those two measures would hardly bankrupt the country and would raise taxes on the working class by only a few percentage points. The oft heard time bomb is more like a wet firecracker.

    (Now Europe and Japan, on the other hand, have real problems. Europe really is facing a time bomb, and Japan, as near as I can tell, is facing a nuclear meltdown.)

  2. James Joyner says:


    I don’t necessarily have any problem with either of those measures, especially raising the cap. The main advantage we have on Europe and Japan here is immigration, which helps make up for having fewer children.

    But 65/7 is awfully young to retire these days.

  3. Paul says:


    What happened to all the Dems from last week saying lying was so important???

    Where are they today?

    Things that make you say “hhhhhhypocrisy.”

  4. John Cole says:

    He didn’t just ‘change his mind.’ He changed his mind, then lied in front of the AFL-CIO while in full pander mode, hoping he would get away with it. Why do I say he lied, rather than simply mis-speaking? Because 6 weeks ago, on June 22nd, he tried to lie about it on Meet The Press and got caught:

    Russert: …calling for that, and this is what Howard Dean said. “The way to balance the budget, [Gov. Howard] Dean said, is for Congress to cut Social Security, move the retirement age to 70, cut defense, Medicare and veterans pensions, while the states cut almost everything else. ‘It would be tough but we could do it,’ he said.”

    Dean: Well, we fortunately don’t have to do that now.

    Russert: We have a $500 billion deficit.

    Dean: But you don’t have to cut Social Security to do that.

    Russert: But why did you have to do it back then?

    Dean: Well, because that was the middle of—I mean, I don’t recall saying that, but I’m sure I did, if you have it on your show, because I know your researchers are very good.

    Russert: Well, Miles Benson is a very good reporter for the Newhouse News.

    Dean: Yes, he is. No, no, no. I’m sure I did. I’m not denying I said that. I have…

    Russert: But you would no longer cut Social Security?

    Dean: But you don’t—no. I’m not ever going to cut Social Security benefits.

    He may have mis-spoken on Meet The Press, but this second time, he was flat out LYING and hoped no one would catch him. Quit letting the left spin this away as a ‘mistake’ or a ‘flip-flop.’

    Here are all the details: