The challenge of preventing the coming debt crisis and ensuring the long-term viability of our safety net is not just an abstract concept for me. While I was still in college, I lost both my parents. My mother passed away after a fight with cancer, and her medical bills wiped us out. I helped raise my 13 year-old sister with the help of my aunt and uncle, and we depended on Social Security survivor benefits to get by. I know from experience how important it is to preserve our safety net so that those in need can continue to rely on it. However, these essential programs are currently on the road to bankruptcy. Social Security and Medicare will become insolvent by the end of the next decade. Disability Insurance will reach insolvency by 2017. Our major entitlement programs have unfunded liabilities of more than $75 trillion, an almost unfathomably large number that dwarfs our entire economy and our current debt.
I have a comprehensive plan to address this growing problem head on. First, I will make common-sense changes to our entitlement programs. This includes raising the retirement age for future retirees because we are living longer and asking wealthy retirees to give up some money in benefits. Second, I will implement pro-work reforms, like eliminating the payroll tax for those who reach the early retirement age and expanding rehabilitation and work opportunities for those on disability.