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Jeb Bush seeks to ‘encourage private saving,’ ease later retirement in Social Security reform plan

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting on Sept. 21 in Mason City, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush unveiled a plan to reform Social Security and Medicare on Tuesday, including proposals to "encourage private saving to reduce dependency on the government" and ease later retirement.

"While access to private retirement accounts is at an all-time high, more can be done to help workers in small businesses," Bush wrote on his campaign Web site. "Under my plan, small businesses who cannot afford to contribute toward workers’ retirement plans can set up 'starter 401(K)s' for their workers, and businesses would have the ability to pool together to access a single retirement savings plan, which will save administrative costs and reduce complexity." He also says he would take on regulations that "add unnecessary costs and make it difficult for individuals to save."

The plan, which comes a day ahead of the third televised GOP primary debate, would "very gradually change" Social Security eligibility ages "by a month every year starting in 2022." It would also incentivize retiring later in life by further reducing check amounts for those who retire as soon as they qualify for Social Security benefits and further boosting benefits for those who choose to wait. He also wants to eliminate the payroll tax for Americans 67 or older.

"We need to recognize that Americans are living longer, healthier lives, and we should make it easier for those who choose to work longer," he writes.

The former Florida governor also calls for reshaping Medicare by increasing means-testing for premiums to further reduce "the level of government subsidies for wealthier seniors," and by allowing enrollees to participate in tax-advantaged health savings accounts. 

Bush mentions the need for "bipartisan" solutions three times in his post, he credits Rep. Paul Ryan's work on Medicare and he warns, "If we do not have an honest conversation about what it will take to protect Medicare and Social Security, we fail seniors and we will fail the next generation of Americans."