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Rubio’s Right on Social Security

The funny thing about third rails in politics is that there are many of them. Senator Marco Rubio seized two important ones on Tuesday. If the quality of his ideas this week are any indication, we believe he’ll live to do so again.

His comprehensive speech addressed how the federal government ought to support the elderly, laying out a plan to shore up Social Security and explaining and endorsing Paul Ryan’s approach to Medicare reform.

The two key planks to Rubio’s Social Security proposal are a gradual increase in the retirement age, tied to increases in American life expectancy, and a change to the growth of benefits. He wants middle- and high-income Americans to see their benefits grow more slowly and the poor to see their benefits grow more quickly. He also would eliminate payroll taxes for workers over the age of 65 and eliminate an antiquated reduction in benefits for beneficiaries who opt into the program early but keep working.

Undergirding these ideas is a positive conservative vision for Social Security. Explaining that it has served his family well, Rubio argued Social Security ought to be a strong, reliable safety net that encourages, not discourages, work and economic prosperity. And with millions of seniors still living in poverty, the system ought to be more generous for those who are still slipping through the cracks.

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