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Marco Rubio on Social Security


Benefits have to be less generous to save Social Security

At a 2010 debate, [the moderator] asked me whether I would change the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security. I had answered him honestly, saying that "all these issues have to be on the table," including "the way we index increases in the cost of living." The Florida press said I had handed Crist his next line of attack. In retiree-rich Florida, talking about changes to Social Security was political suicide, they insisted.

Some Republicans had gotten into trouble in the past by questioning the necessity of Social Security and Medicare. That debate was over. Americans had paid into the entitlement programs all their working lives, and they expected a return on their investment when they retired. We need to focus on saving Social Security and Medicare, both of which are headed for bankruptcy. I didn't want to abolish Social Security. I wanted to save it. But to do that, I had to accept that my Social Security benefits would be less generous than my parents' benefits.

Source: An American Son, by Marco Rubio, p.233-234 , Jun 19, 2012

Raise retirement age for those now under 55

On Social Security reform, Rubio said that he favored raising the age only for people younger than 55, meaning current beneficiaries would not be affected. He agrees with a sweeping entitlement reform plan advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would raise the age for full benefits to 70 by 2098, with the gradual climb beginning in 2018. The plan, which has gained notice beyond Washington, also includes changing an indexing formula under which benefits are adjusted. In the debate, Rubio said he's open to rejiggering the cost of living adjustment. Like Ryan, Rubio does not go as far as some policymakers would, including increasing payroll taxes or lifting the income ceiling for taxable income, now $106,800.

Asked what he would do, Crist said that raising the age "really flies in the face of an awful lot of my fellow Floridians" and said he would root out waste and fraud instead.

Source: St. Petersburg Times on 2010 Florida Senate debate , Apr 7, 2010

Tough choices include raising retirement age & reducing COLA

Crist's and Rubio's answers regarding how to fix Social Security said a lot to me about the relative virtues of the candidates.

Rubio pointed out the problems facing the Social Security program and stated that we're going to have to look at the tough choices, which include raising the retirement age for younger Americans, possibly reducing Cost of Living Adjustments, and other changes to benefits. If you don't want to raise taxes--which both Crist and Rubio say they oppose--then these are pretty much your only options.

Crist replied that he opposes either a retirement age increase or changes to annual COLAs. Instead, he would focus on attacking "waste and fraud" in the system.

Rubio was willing to be upfront about the hard choices awaiting us on Social Security. This may be due to the dawning on Americans that the clock is truly ticking in terms of getting our fiscal house in order. Rubio brought up the problem of Greece's debt crisis & related it to what America may be looking at in the future.

Source: Andrew Biggs in The American, on 2010 Florida Senate debate , Mar 29, 2010

Hard choices for people under 40, to avoid runaway growth

Q: You say you would freeze federal discretionary spending except for security spending, on homeland security and the Pentagon. But that's the same spending freeze that Pres. Obama supports, which covers 13% of the federal budget.

RUBIO: The freeze is not enough. We can freeze the non-military discretionary spending and it's a good step forward. But ultimately, tackling the issue of the federal debt is going to require significant entitlement reforms. That means programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid have to be reformed if we hope to save them so that they exist for my generation. That means we are going to call upon people my age--I turn 39 in May--and people that are far from retirement to make difficult but important and necessary choices to ensure that the runaway growth in entitlement programs and federal spending does not diminish our future or bankrupt America.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2010 Florida primary Senate debate , Mar 28, 2010

Keep raising the retirement age on the table

Q: In the Wall Street Journal two weeks ago, you wrote: "Privatization of the accounts has come and gone. There are other alternatives such as raising the retirement age, etc." Are you saying that you will consider such benefit cuts as raising the retirement age?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think a great starting point for this conversation is the Ryan roadmap.

Q: This is Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

RUBIO: Correct. I think it's a great starting point. He does include individual accounts as part of his plan.

Q: I'm asking you about your plan.

RUBIO: On the individual accounts come and gone, that debate happened a few years ago and every year that goes by, it becomes more difficult to accomplish that. But certainly, I think if you're 55 years of age or older, this is off the table.

Q: So, would you raise the retirement age?

RUBIO: I think that has to be on the table. That's got to be part of the solution, the retirement age gradually increases for people of my generation.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2010 Florida primary Senate debate , Mar 28, 2010

Keep cost-of-living adjustment on the table

Q: [to Rubio]: Would you change cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security?

RUBIO: I think all of that has to be on the table, including the way we index increases in cost of living. All of these issues have to be on the table [including raising the retirement age]. They are options that I would be open to.

Q: Gov. Crist, we looked all over your campaign Web site. Frankly, we couldn't find a word about Social Security reform.

CRIST: Well, I think it's important that we understand Social Security must be saved. It must be protected. The idea of having a higher age for people to be able to be eligible for Social Security really flies in the face of an awful lot of my fellow Floridians and it's something that I would not advocate. I think we need t take the fraud out of Social Security, the waste, in Medicare as well.

Q: You're saying that even for people under the age of 55 you would not raise the retirement age or you wouldn't change the cost-of-living adjustment?

CRIST: No, I would not.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2010 Florida primary Senate debate , Mar 28, 2010

Rated 7% by ARA, indicating a pro-privatization stance.

Rubio scores 7% Alliance for Retired Americans

Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (supports privatization and other market-based reforms) to 100% (supports keeping federal control over Trust Fund and Social Security system).

About ARA (from their website,

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a nationwide organization, founded in May 2001, with now over 4.2 million members working together to make their voices heard in the laws, policies, politics, and institutions that shape our lives. The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security.

Source: ARA lifetime rating on incumbents of 113th Congress 14_ARA on Jan 1, 2013

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Page last updated: Jan 24, 2015