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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio calls for 'gradually' increasing Social Security retirement age, other reforms

WASHINGTON (AP) — Younger workers would face higher retirement ages and wealthier Americans would see their Social Security paychecks trail their less-affluent neighbors under a plan proposed Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The Florida Republican, outlining a policy agenda as he weighs a presidential bid, also proposed allowing all Americans to join the federal retirement program that Congress uses. He vowed to protect benefits for older Americans but he added that changes were needed if the system is to survive.

"The Social Security trust fund is drying up," Rubio said, referring to money collected to pay certain benefits. He said the safety net for retirees will run into debt in 2033 if changes are not made. "This is not a scare tactic. . . . It is a mathematical certainty if things remain unchanged."

Democrats said the Rubio proposal is similar to what Republican Mitt Romney proposed when he unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012.

"Sen. Rubio's plan is just the latest example of the Republican Party's out-of-touch policies that benefit a few instead of extending opportunity for all," Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin said.

On retirement security in the 21st century:

“Partisan politics in America has always been contentious. But throughout our history, on issues of generational importance, our leaders have agreed to put aside politics for the sake of our people. If ever there was an issue worthy of this solidarity, preserving a secure retirement for 21st century seniors is that issue.”

On making it easier to invest for retirement:

“I propose we give Americans who do not have access to an employer sponsored plan the option of enrolling in the federal Thrift Saving’s Plan. Opening Congress’ retirement plan to the American people will allow us to bring the prospect of a secure, comfortable and independent retirement into reach of millions of people.”

On saving Social Security for future generations:

“My answer is to build this outdated system into something that’s worthy of the 21st century, and that’s designed to sustain all seniors and last for generations. This requires taking into account modern realities. ... The answer is to gradually increase the retirement age for future retirees to account for the rise in life expectancy. And if we act soon, we can do this without changing the retirement age for people who are currently over the age of 55.”

On reforming Medicare:

“When it comes to a broad and comprehensive Medicare reform plan, let’s learn from the mistakes of ObamaCare and the successes of programs such as Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D.  Let’s dramatically expand health care choices for seniors, spur competition in the marketplace and extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund – all while making sure traditional Medicare remains an option.”

On removing penalties on seniors who work:

“In order to remove this disincentive to work, we should eliminate the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax for all individuals aged 65 and older. These seniors have already paid their fair share, and we shouldn’t punish them for choosing to keep working rather than immediately cashing in.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:20pm]

    

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