WASHINGTON — 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.
Rubio is working to build his policy credentials after a bipartisan immigration plan he helped push through the Senate stalled in the House and caused a backlash from conservatives.
Trying to shake that sting and looking ahead to an expected 2016 campaign, Rubio has turned to policy proposals on poverty, higher education and economic growth in recent speeches.