Richard Shelby came out yesterday and said that we should raise the retirement age “every several years,” which is a great way to eliminate both Social Security and people who have to work into their 70s and 80s. I know that in Shelby’s mind we’re all days away from becoming cyborgs who can resist any threat to mortality with a set of wires and a microchip, but somehow I think that’s about as likely as jet packs. So bad, bad Shelby! Rand Paul will introduce his own plan soon, and the retirement age will surely be part of that as well. Bad, bad Rand Paul!

That’s what Democratic press releases tell me, anyway. They don’t say much about this guy:

In a speech last summer about entitlements and deficits, (Minority Whip Steny) Hoyer said, “We should consider a higher retirement age or one pegged to lifespan.”

At his weekly press availability on Wednesday, I asked him if he still stood by his previous comments, or if, like Boehner, he’d rather keep his powder dry.

“Unlike Boehner [who supported raising the retirement age outright], what I said is it ought to be on the table,” Hoyer said. “We ought to consider all options, including raising the age, but there are a lot of other options also that can be considered and I also indicated that whatever we do needs to be done prospectively. And I think all parties agree with that.”

It’s completely different to support raising the retirement age, which is mainly a benefit cut and an attack on workers in menial labor jobs who cannot hold out the way someone sitting at a desk can, than it is to “consider all options, including raising the age,” according to Hoyer. I’m not sure it’s so different, really. If you have a series of options, some of which are unpalatable to Republicans and others unpalatable to Democrats, you’re going to wind up with whatever is left “on the table.” And that would be increasing the retirement age again. That’s basically Hoyer’s position.

This is why Harry Reid is basically the only ally for those who don’t want to see Social Security benefits slashed in the next year or two.