This will make balancing the budget that much harder.WASHINGTON (AP) Democratic presidential candidate 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.
The current retirement age for receiving full program benefits is 65 years and two months. The retirement age will gradually rise to 67 over the next two decades.
Dean's false statement came Tuesday night during an appearance at the AFL-CIO's Democratic presidential candidate forum.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who favors taking it back to age 65, criticized Dean for saying he'd raise to 68 or 70. Dean responded, ''I have never favored a Social Security retirement age of 70 nor do I favor one of 68.''
But that contradicted a 1995 article in which Dean said he wanted to raise it to age 70 to help balance the budget. It also contradicted a television appearance in June in which Dean said he would consider raising the age to 68.