Government

Rita Hart: Raising the federal retirement age a 'deal breaker'

Union photo by Ashley Duong

Rita Hart, who is a candidate running in the second congressional district in Iowa, address
Union photo by Ashley Duong Rita Hart, who is a candidate running in the second congressional district in Iowa, addressed local democrats at the 2019 Henry County Harvest Rally. In her speech, she said she believed people in Washington were not putting enough effort to listen to voices of people like those who live in Iowa.

Raising the retirement age for Social Security is a “deal breaker,” said Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart.

Hart on Wednesday received the endorsement of the Alliance for Retired Americans for her commitment to protecting and strengthening Medicare and Social Security. The alliance represents more than 4.3 million retirees and community activists nationwide, including more than 30,000 members in Iowa.

Hart was joined via video conference by leaders from the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“We’re going to welcome your leadership, because we know through your work we are going to help to expand Social Security coverage and Medicare,” said Mike McCarthy, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Hart on Wednesday spoke of the need to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security for Iowa’s seniors.

“We need to make sure that we are honoring the commitment that we have to seniors for the earned benefits that they are counting on receiving, and that we are going to create a system that is sustainable that will be there for our children and our grandchildren,” Hart said.

She is running for the 2nd District seat now held by retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack. She will face Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, of Ottumwa.

Hart and others on the call criticized Miller-Meeks’ support for raising the retirement age.

Miller-Meeks, an eye surgeon and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, in a prior run for the seat in 2014, said for the U.S. to prevent sharp breaks in the benefit or tax levels faced by succeeding generations, solutions could include the possibility of raising the federal retirement age of 65.

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Hart said raising the retirement age is a “deal breaker,” and that there are “much better solutions out there” to support entitlement funding. Hart did not elaborate, other than mentioning her plan to lower prescription drug costs by allowing Medicaid to directly negotiate lower drug prices with drug companies.

“Not all professions are the same,” Hart said of raising the retirement age. “As we get older, farming doesn’t get easier. And so when you’re 65 that’s a much heavier lift than when you’re 30 or 40 years old. And so we need to protect the working-class people and make sure that there are other ways we can go about looking at the security of this system. We don’t need to raise the age in order to do that.”

Miller-Meeks’ campaign said she will fight to strengthen and protect Social Security and Medicare.

“Rita Hart is using the same old, tired scare tactic about Social Security and Medicare that we hear from Democrats every election year,” campaign spokesman Eric Woolson said in an emailed statement. “Mariannette Miller-Meeks knows what it’s like to grow up in a poor family that struggles to make ends meet. She knows that Social Security is a safety net and a lifeline for millions of Americans, including members of her own family and many friends. She is not going to support any legislation that will jeopardize their financial security.”

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