Rising Democrat presidential contender Pete Buttigieg today announced his plan to significantly expand Social Security benefits, create a long-term-care entitlement and require employers to provide a 3% match to employees who opt into his new 401(k) style plan.

The 38-year old South Bend, Ind., mayor, who has soared to a leading position in polling among Democratic presidential candidates in Iowa, said he will pay for his plan by raising taxes on the wealthy.

“I am determined to usher in a new era for older Americans that upholds the unshakable promise that every American should be able to maintain a decent standard of living when they retire,” Buttigieg said in a statement announcing the plan.

While a long-term-care benefit is at the center of his new plan, Buttigieg is also proposing increased Social Security benefits, Social Security fund solvency measures and a new caregiver benefit. The total cost of the plan is unclear, but would be paid for by “greater tax enforcement on the wealthy,” the Buttigieg campaign said.

Buttigieg’s plan is “asking more from the most fortunate” by raising the Social Security payroll tax cap. Currently, only income up to $132,900 is taxed to pay for Social Security.

Buttigieg’s plan would create a gap where income between $132,900 and $250,000 is not taxed, but where individual income above $250,000 would be taxed.

The plan also notes that 11.3 million people who are currently over 65 would receive benefits from the Buttigieg program at some point in their life.

At the center of the plan is “a historic and free" long-term-care program to protect people over age 65, called Long-Term Care America, that amounts to an addition to the social safety net, the campaign said.

The plan works like this: Every retiree who needs help “with two or more activities of daily living” would get $90 a day to defray the costs of long-term care after some waiting periods based on income. The benefit could be used for things like hiring a home health aide or paying for a nursing home.

Buttigieg includes a range of inducements to encourage seniors to stay at home for care, as opposed to the growing default for many older Americans, which is to spend down assets, go on Medicaid and go into an institution. 

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