Finance

Rubio: Offer all workers federal retirement plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — Younger voters would face higher retirement ages but all Americans could join federal retirement accounts in a plan proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio, the latest in his series of national policy prescriptions.

Rubio, a first-term Republican senator from Florida who is weighing a presidential bid, is set to deliver a speech Tuesday about retirement programs. He is proposing an overhaul of federal programs to help younger workers save for their retirement, as well as protect programs for older voters who had assumed those programs would be there after they ended their careers.

Rubio, who previously addressed poverty, higher education and economic growth in policy speeches, is working to build his policy credentials ahead of an expected 2016 campaign. The prescriptions come just days after he had a private audience with the Republican National Committee in Memphis, Tennessee, and made his first trip to early-nominating New Hampshire.

Rubio's speech, excerpts of which The Associated Press obtained in advance, promises that partisanship would not affect older Americans, who are nervous as they approach retirement. With so many retirees and those near retirement as constituents in senior-rich Florida, Rubio is mindful that he represents their interests as he prepares for the national political stage. Should he bypass a 2016 presidential run, Rubio's policy proposals would not hurt his chances at Senate re-election in 2016.

In his speech, Rubio proposes making the federal retirement program that Congress uses available beyond government employees. His proposal would make it easier for workers whose employers don't offer retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and other investment plans. Rubio's system would make it easier for lower- and middle-class voters to plan for their older years.

But Rubio's plan also would raise the retirement age for younger workers while protecting those age 55 and over. Older workers could still expect to retire at age 62 or older, depending on their plans.

But for younger workers, who are expected to live longer than their elders, the retirement age in federal programs would go up. To offset their concerns, those younger workers could have access to the same retirement plans used by Congress.

Rubio's plan also would suspend the payroll taxes on those age 65 or older who continue to work. That move could help him appeal to older workers of all types who choose to stay on the job after they are eligible to receive retirement benefits.

Rubio has been bulking up his political team and working to help candidates on the ballots in 2014, including those in Iowa, which hosts the leadoff presidential caucuses.

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