Marco Rubio on Social Security
Sen. Rand PAUL: He's talking about giving people money they didn't pay. It's a welfare transfer payment. Is it conservative to have $1 trillion in transfer payments--a new welfare program that's a refundable tax credit?
RUBIO: First of all, this is their money. They do pay. It is refundable, not just against the taxes they pay on their federal income tax, but also it's refundable against the payroll tax. Everyone pays payroll tax. This is their money. This is not our money. And here's what I don't understand--if you invest that money in a piece of equipment, if you invest that money in a business, you get to write it off your taxes. But if you invest it in your children, in the future of America and strengthening your family, we're not going to recognize that in our tax code? The family is the most important institution in society.
PAUL: Nevertheless, it's not very conservative, Marco.
PAUL: The [eligibility] age will have to gradually rise. It's the only way you fix Medicare, the only way you fix Social Security. You will also have to means-test the benefits.
CHRISTIE: We're living longer. We have to increase the retirement age to reflect that blessing.
CARSON: The plan gives people the option of opting out of Medicare.
RUBIO: We are talking about reforms for future generations. Q Nothing has to change for current beneficiaries. My mother is on Medicare and Social Security. I'm against anything that's bad for my mother. We're talking about reform for people like me who are years away from retirement and have a way to plan for these changes. It's not too much to ask of our generation after everything our parents and our grandparents did for us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, www.RetiredAmericans.org):
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.
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