- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Monday released a plan aimed at bolstering health care and retirement savings options for seniors that includes changes to Social Security taxes for high-income earners and a new “public” 401(k) option.

His plan would not affect Social Security benefits for current recipients, but it would change the program by increasing the wage level subject to Social Security taxes from about $133,000 to any level above $250,000.

It would also create a new “special minimum benefit” of 125% of the federal poverty line for any senior who has worked at least 30 years.

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The plan says Mr. Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would work with Congress to enshrine a process of “automatically adjusting high earners’ contributions” to keep Social Security solvent.

His campaign cited an estimate from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, that said Mr. Buttigieg’s plan would extend the solvency of the program to 2051 and reduce cumulative deficits over the next 10 years by $1.2 trillion.

The plan also includes a “public option 401(k)” that would start at larger employers. Companies would be exempt from employer contributions if they offer a defined benefit pension, a 401(k), or a similar retirement savings account.

Mr. Buttigieg would also create a special long-term care program for people over 65 who need special help for at least two activities of “daily living,” like bathing or eating, with benefits worth $90 per day.

He would expand opportunities for caregivers and increase the asset and income limits for long-term services and support through Medicaid.

The plan would also implement and enforce minimum staffing ratios at long-term facilities.

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