Florida Sen. Marco Rubio cracked a joke on Tuesday about all those elderly lawmakers in Congress.
“Many now choose to work well past the age of retirement,” Rubio said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington about Social Security and Medicare. “If you have any doubts, I encourage you to come see the United State Senate at work!”
The Republican lawmaker — and potential 2016 presidential candidate — made the comments as part of a policy push of new retirement security reforms.
When it comes to Social Security, Rubio is proposing to “gradually increase the retirement age for future retirees to account for the rise in life expectancy.
“And if we act soon, we can do this without changing the retirement age for people who are currently over the age of 55,” Rubio said.
He suggested helping Americans who do not have access to an employer sponsored 401(k) plan by giving them the option of enrolling in the federal Thrift Savings Plan — the retirement plan for members of Congress.
“Opening Congress’ 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,” Rubio said.
The Florida Republican is also calling for the elimination of the 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax for people who have reached retirement age. This, he said, would remove the disincentive for seniors to work and help them save money and decrease their dependency on federal assistance programs.
During the speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Rubio began his remarks by acknowledging how Medicare has helped his family.
“My father passed away just a few weeks before my election,” Rubio said. “In the last months of his life, Medicare allowed him to receive the palliative care he needed to die with dignity surrounded by the people who loved him.”
Likewise, Rubio said of his mother: “In recent years her health has declined as well. Medicare pays for the care she now receives that has not only extended her life but also preserved its quality.”
The audience asked Rubio about a potential presidential campaign. Rubio suggested that he will either decide to run for the White House or to re-election to the Senate in 2016 — and not attempt both in case a presidential campaign didn’t work out. Asked about friend and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Rubio called him a “formidable” candidate for president.