Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chris Christie touches the 'third rail' of American politics

In a speech in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Christie spoke about a topic that most presidential candidates avoid-curbing social security spending. He proposed to raise the retirement age from 67 69, reduce benefits for those retirees earning greater than $80,000, and eliminating the benefit entirely for those retirees who earn more than $200,000 in retirement income. This speech was notable for it is rare for a likely presidential candidate to adopt such an unpopular policy position. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, explains how this move changes the presidential race: "Mr. Christie is playing a leadership role that will force other people to say how they would fix it if they don’t like his approach.” As it relates to our focus on the media, Governor Christie may have increased the salience of social security spending as a campaign issue. Look for the media to ask presidential candidates about their reactions to Governor Christie's speech.

Will this move help or hurt Christie's chances for a presidential bid? I have always been told that social security spending is the 'third rail' in American politics that can kill a candidate's chances of winning any election if he/she speaks about it to the media? Some are saying that it could actually help him though. Terry Holt, a campaign strategist who worked on Bush's 2004 campaign said, "He has to distinguish himself from the rest of the field and tackling a tough issue helps to do that." What do you guys think? Good move or bad move?

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