Marco Rubio Calls for Opening Federal Retirement Plan to All Americans

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 14, 2014 3:55 AM
Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered a plan opening the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a retirement program that federal employees and members of Congress have access to, to all Americans. Rubio, who is a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, also called for more private-sector options for Americans looking to save for their retirements.

“The TSP, which is similar to a traditional employer-sponsored 401-k, allows federal employees to save pretax money for retirement,” Rubio said. “And it is one of the most efficient savings plans in America. It charges fees which are a fraction of those in most private defined-contribution plans, allowing beneficiaries to save more. So the twisted irony is that members of Congress – who are employees of the citizens of the United States – have access to a superior savings plan, while many of their employers – the American people – are often left with access to no plan at all.

“That is why I propose we give Americans who do not have access to an employer-sponsored plan the option of enrolling in the federal Thrift Savings Plan,” Rubio continued. “Opening Congress’s 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.”

Pointing toward his parents’ experiences, Rubio said the recent economic problems are hurting Americans efforts to save for their retirement, calling it a “real and looming crisis” for most generations.

“I believe the American dream my parents lived is still possible,” Rubio said. “But among too many of our people, there is now a nagging sense that achieving it has become more difficult than ever. Financial security has faded for millions of Americans – and with it the hope of a stable and secure retirement.

“The troubles of the last few years have forced millions to put retirement on hold indefinitely. It has even forced some to cut their retirement short and re-enter the workforce,” Rubio added. “Each of the three legs of our traditional retirement stool – personal savings, pensions and Social Security – is wobbling. And if we do nothing, each of the three will likely cease to exist as we know them well before my generation enters retirement. The instability of each is caused by a variety of factors, yet they all share one common cause of decay: the lack of sustained economic growth.”

While insisting current retirees would not be impacted by his proposal, including nothing his mother currently relies on, which is both Medicare and Social Security, Rubio called for the elimination of the Social Security payroll tax for retirees and ending the retirement earnings test for seniors who still work. Rubio also backed allowing seniors more options to buy insurance from private companies or from Medicare, insisting this was “saving Medicare” which, he noted, will face bankruptcy in 12 years.

“There was once a time when talking about Medicare reform was a third rail of American politics,” Rubio said. “But as we get closer to impending doom, it seems more people are at least willing to discuss serious ideas about how to save Medicare. And any serious effort to save Medicare needs to first take a hard look at what recent reform efforts tell us about what works and what does not.”

Rubio also insisted President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law has hurt Medicare as well as the economy as a whole.

“Obamacare turned 4 last month,” Rubio said. It raises the iconic question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? The answer is an unequivocal ‘no.’ Jobs have been lost. Hours have been cut. Employers have been forced to drop coverage. Premiums have skyrocketed. Millions have lost coverage they were happy with.

“Obamacare has even hurt Medicare recipients by cutting about $156 billion out of Medicare Advantage,” Rubio added. “This cut was a grave miscalculation. Medicare Advantage is a shining success story that millions of seniors, like my mom, rely upon. In short, it allows you to receive coverage from a private provider using funding from Medicare. This has encouraged providers to compete for business by tacking on all sorts of value-added services for seniors. For example, one of the reasons my mom picked her current provider is because, in addition to good doctors, they pick her up and drive her to appointments.”

Rubio said the increased options from private companies helped seniors.

“This sort of competition in the marketplace invariably leads to two very good things: a decrease in prices and an increase in choices,” Rubio said. “Choice and competition are also at the heart of another Medicare success story: Medicare Part D. Through this market-based program, seniors have at least 28 different prescription drug coverage plans to choose from, and competition has worked as a powerful cost-control mechanism.”

Rubio closed with a call to action from both parties and expressed optimism that there would be bipartisan support on his proposals.

“The responsibility to save these programs belongs to all who are elected to serve,” Rubio said. “Yet many seem to have forgotten that we are here to pass policy, not posture politically. They forget that issues such as these are the ‘why’ of politics, not merely optional dirty work. 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,” Rubio said. “And should we fail to address it, history will point its finger at all who stood aside or stood in the way. Today, I have presented an agenda for addressing this crisis head-on. I am eager to work with anyone – Republican or Democrat – who will work in good faith on these reforms. Ultimately, I believe we will solve the retirement challenge before it is too late.”

With Rubio offering praise to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., plans for Medicare reform, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) looked to link Rubio to the losing Republican presidential ticket back in 2012.

“This afternoon Sen. Rubio renewed the GOP’s commitment to ending Medicare as we know it, forcing future seniors to spend more out of pocket on medical care when they need it most," said Michael Czin, a spokesman for the DNC. “In 2012, the Romney-Ryan ticket ran on that plan and it was soundly rejected by the voters. 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.

“Simply put – Rubio’s position is backward, but what else should we expect from someone who has attracted brutal headlines in the last few days for valuing partisan ideology more than science?” Czin added.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (10)

party differences is all smoke and mirrors
8:02AM MAY 15TH 2014
The so called two party system is all smoke and mirrors. They are like entertainment tonight for those idiots who don't talk about religion and politics!

The ELITE will install whom ever they want too for president, senate, congress and so on right down to your city "so called leaders" and city managers.Notice how they have all recently acquired the status of untouchable and afforded protection at all cost? And when they accidentally anoint uncontrollable people they will dispose of them post haste, i what ever manner is necessary.

Do you see where that don't talk about religion and politics got us? Government control of our Christian faith and our tongues as well when the truths dare come out of them.

Don't blame it all on Obama like the so called conservative right want's you to do. This country has headed to hell in a hand basket long before "this messiah" appeared on the scene. He was just brought in to stoke the fires of "diversity" and assure everyone in the USA is provided a cause for which to hate everyone else!
9:50PM MAY 14TH 2014
These a holes will give it to the democrats if they run either one.
6:43PM MAY 14TH 2014
Wake me when the AARP supports all these plans . . . . and Rubio actually starts to believe in facts (you know, like science), not hallucinations like a 6,000 year-old earth, his parents fleeing Castro 3 years before Castro, creationism, and the shrill nonsense that we're simply experiencing a natural fluctuation in climate while attacking the President as not being a meteorologist (despite the AMS's clear position that this is being caused by human impacts, a position I've previously quoted on this site) . . . . . until then . . . we just have to consider Rubio as not ready for prime time . . . . and demonstrably . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
7:49PM MAY 14TH 2014
The earth is estimated to be over 4 1/2 billion years old. Over the course of its long history, science shows it has experienced many "climate changes". None of those were "caused" by humans, if we're at the beginning of another one, we're not likely to be the cause of that either. (I don't care what the AMS says.)
8:59AM MAY 18TH 2014
Of course you don't care what actual scientists say (not even when no major scientific organization sides with you, not just the AMS when you make idiotic truthiness statements about what meteorologists think about climate change) . . . . .

No, you'd rather believe in your own climate change feelings and beliefs (whatever their non-scientific source) . . . with no accepted science or research of your own to back up those personal "beliefs" . . . . . . sigh, at least you're not an earth age denier . . . . like Rubio . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
12:56PM MAY 14TH 2014
I would think twice before any of my private savings were given to a plan controlled by the Federal Government. Social Security was supposed to be funded and invested, instead the Congress changed the law and spent the money thus bankrupting our government pension fund. Now the burden is on the younger workers to provide the funds to pay older retirees an amount that most cannot survive on. It is the Ponzi scheme to end all Ponzi schemes and Rubio wants us to create another.
7:53PM MAY 14TH 2014
Good point. It's similar to big corporations, where, in theory, the shareholders should "regulate" CEO salaries, but that doesn't seem to happen; and, in theory, "we the people" are supposed to be watching what Congress does, but that doesn't seem to happen - maybe because we're busy living our lives, or we just don't like "politics". It's a problem.
Shaw Eberhardt
9:52AM MAY 14TH 2014
I wish I had a job where after 6 years I am given my same salary and benefits for life.
3:06PM MAY 14TH 2014
Shaw Eberhardt, that is not true. Since 1982 members of Congress have been elgible for the same set of retirement plan options as most Federal employee's. It is based on years in office and contrary to a false screed circulating on the internet now for years the leaders get no netter deal than other members. Right now the average is around 50k per year.
Now the big deal with Rubio's proposal other than it killing him with the Republican base is how do those who make less than 24k a year, around thirty percent of the workforce and those who make less than 50k a year family income, about half the workforce have the time and resources to actually save for retirement .
8:12AM MAY 14TH 2014
What's the big deal? One can reproduce the TSP easily with a number of companies. This advocation is just political grandstanding.

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