(CN) – Hours before the first Democratic presidential candidate debate with a whittled-down field of 10, Senator Elizabeth Warren released a new plan to increase social security benefits by $200 per person per month, financed by the richest 2% of American families.
“It’s getting harder to save enough for a decent retirement,” Warren wrote in a Medium post Thursday, her preferred method for sharing her plans.
“A generation of stagnant wages and rising costs for basics like housing, health care, education, and child care have squeezed family budgets,” Warren said in the post. “Millions of families have had to sacrifice saving for retirement just to make ends meet. At the same time, fewer people have access to the kind of pensions that used to help fund a comfortable retirement.”
True to her economic professor roots, Warren sprinkled statistics generously throughout the plan, noting that the numbers are often worse for nonwhite senior citizens and for women.
Warren is polling well entering the debate, by some measures neck and neck with frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
About half of married seniors in the U.S. and 70% of unmarried seniors rely on Social Security for at least half of their income, Warren noted. Fourteen percent of seniors live in poverty.
Decades of wage stagnation have resulted in smaller contributions to Social Security benefits, and Congress has not increased those benefits in almost 50 years, she said, citing research from the Congressional Research Service.
“For someone who worked their entire adult life at an average wage and retired this year at the age of 66, Social Security will replace just 41% of what they used to make. That’s well short of the 70% many financial advisers recommend for a decent retirement,” Warren wrote, adding those numbers only stand to get worse if the government does not act.
Gen Z-ers and Millennials will face tremendous financial struggles as they age if the system does not change, Warren said – two-thirds of working Millennials have no retirement savings.
Warren’s plan would also switch the index that calculates cost-of-living increases to a system called CPI-E, which she said would better reflect the costs faced by Social Security beneficiaries. It would also provide Social Security credits to caregivers of children under 6, disabled dependents, and elderly relatives, as well as guarantee pensions to public sector workers.
“We need to get our priorities straight,” Warren wrote. “We should be increasing Social Security benefits and asking the richest Americans to contribute their fair share to the program.”